Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher may have been even more consequential than former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, according to CNN foreign policy analyst Fareed Zakaria on “Piers Morgan Live” Monday night.
Zakaria joined historian Niall Ferguson, Council on Foreign Relations President Richard Haass and historian Douglas Brinkley on Morgan’s show to discuss the legacy of Thatcher, who died in London on Monday of a stroke.
Ferguson, who was born and educated in Britain, started the panel off by arguing that Thatcher was the second greatest prime minister in British history, with only Winston Churchill ranking higher.
“Churchill was described rightly by that great historian A.J.P. Taylor as the ‘savior of his nation,'” Ferguson said.
“And I think Margaret Thatcher was also the savior of her nation. You know, the others on the panel won’t know what Britain was like in the 1970s, but you and I know, Piers, that the country was in an appalling mess. And she single handedly turned that around. So she is up there second only to Churchill in my view.”
Zakaria went further and suggested that Thatcher surpassed Churchill in consequence in some ways.
“I think in some ways — in some ways — she’s more consequential than Churchill, and I don’t mean to belittle in any way Churchill,” Zakaria said. “But Thatcher is the only British prime minister I can think of who has an ‘ism’ named after her. ‘Thatcherism. You are a Thatcherite.'”
“She began the turn to markets that was then followed in country after country,” Zakaria further explained, adding, “1979, the year Margaret Thatcher comes to power, is the beginning of the kind of return of free market economics to the world. So she is very consequential. ”
While concurring with the panel that Thatcher was hugely consequential, Brinkley pushed back against what he saw as Zakaria’s hyperbole.
“First off, look, Winston Churchill is in a category all himself as British prime minister,” he said. “I mean, warding off Nazi Germany is not the Falklands crisis.”
“But the rest of the panelists I think are right,” he went on. “By ’79, Britain was an economic mess and she came in and really inspired Great Britain to remember it had a role in the world.”