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April 15, 2013

I would rank Thatcher alongside Attlee

Writing about web page http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/knowledge

Photograph of Baroness Lady Thatcher at the University of Warwick
The First Lady: Lady Thatcher with Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya at WMG in 1990

As the nation debates the legacy of Baroness Margaret Thatcher, several academics from the University of Warwick have offered their perspectives based on their research and expertise.

Baroness Thatcher was no stranger to the University; she visited Warwick on several occasions. In 1988 she looked in on what is now the Warwick Crop Centre and in 1990, the Baroness opened the Advanced Technology Centre. During the latter visit she was given a tour of WMG by Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya, WMG’s chairman and founder (see photo above). Lord Bhattacharyya paid tribute to Lady Thatcher in the House of Lords on 10 April 2013.

This Wednesday (17 April 2013), to mark Lady Thatcher’s funeral, Dr Martin Priceand Dr Anton Popovwill have a Knowledge Centre feature looking at the responses of the under 25s to Lady Thatcher’s death.

Price and Popov are not alone in offering a reflective analysis on the Iron Lady’s political career, with several academics writing blogs about Margaret Thatcher.

In ‘Margaret Thatcher and me’, Professor Mark Harrison addresses the personal passion she roused in others (on both sides of the debate) and, in a less personal analysis, looks at her economic legacy.

“In my heart, at the time, I was enraged by what Margaret Thatcher did. But now she belongs to history. In my head, looking back as an economic historian, I have to acknowledge the necessity of it.”

Good night's sleep
With Margaret Thatcher’s night time habits being a famous part of her routine, Dr Michelle Miller, from the Division of Mental Health and Wellbeing at the Warwick Medical School, has been discussing this and the importance of a good night’s sleep.

“Margaret Thatcher reportedly only slept for four hours per night. Our studies indicate that short duration of sleep is associated with a variety of chronic conditions and poor health outcomes, detectable across the entire lifespan. Sufficient sleep is necessary for optimal daytime performance and well-being.

“Accumulating evidence suggests that a good night’s sleep equates to at least six hours of continuous sleep per night but, within a population, there is a large difference in how much sleep people report, ranging from less than six to greater than nine hours per night.

“Long-term sustained sleep deprivation also exerts sustained and long-term effects on performance and cognitive functions beyond those of acute deprivation and poor sleep is a feature of dementia. However, although dementia is thought to affect around 800,000 people in the UK, prospectively, very few studies have addressed the question of whether disturbances of quality and quantity of sleep precede and can be predictors of subsequent cognitive impairment. We are hoping to explore these and similar questions in our recently funded ESRC study.”

Solution to the problems
Writing on the economics blog Vox, Professor Nicholas Crafts puts Margaret Thatcher’s political career into some perspective; explaining the economy she inherited through to the one that she left John Major and Tony Blair.

“Thatcherism was a partial solution to the problems which had led to earlier underperformance, in particular, those that had arisen from weak competition.”

And finally, discussing her political legacy, Professor Wyn Grant, Politics and International Studies, said:

“Of the 20th century peacetime prime ministers, I would rank Thatcher alongside Attlee in terms of making a difference.”


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