The Benign Iron Lady

Tony Blair is often compared to Lady Thatcher for similarities on various policy matters, including (topically) Atlanticism. However, John Kampferner, writing in the New Statesman ['Blood on his hands'], makes an interesting contrast of the death tolls resulting from their wars.

Here’s a rather blunt extract:

A record of conflict: the death toll from wars Britain has fought under three prime ministers:

Tony Blair
71,617 deaths
9 years in power

John Major
22,316 deaths
7 years in power

Margaret Thatcher
1,013 deaths
11 years in power

There’s a breakdown of the various wars to which these figures have been attributed in the article itself.

I’m not sure how accurate or representative these figures are. For instance, I don’t know if the figures for Iraqi causalities in the Gulf War are all of the Iraqi casualties or just those who are the direct result of British participation (though just you would determine such a proportion would make for an interesting essay).

The figures also do not include ‘proxy wars’ where we may have been funding/supporting one side or another, either openly or in a clandestine manner. I suspect more of that will have gone on during the Cold War era (even the Thatcher period) than today.

Nevertheless, it is still telling that whilst Lady Thatcher led Britain to wars that resulted barely 90 deaths per year, Tony Blair has managed almost 8000 per year. Blair’s lethality is a staggering 90 times greater than that of the Iron Lady – and unlike Blair she did, at least, make us feel safer!

5 Responses to “The Benign Iron Lady”


  • i dont think this is accurate. in the proxy wars of thatcher there were far more deaths than this

    did the falklands really result in those numbers?

    also the deaths in iraq/afghanistan have exceeded 100,000…. blair must be accountable for more than that surely

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  • I’m not sure how these figures are determined, but I recall reading somewhere (it may even have been the New Statesman or the Spectator) that Geoff Hoon sent more troops to war during his tenure at the MoD than any (or was it every) Defence Secretary since Churchill (1940-1945).

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  • I’m sure had Lady Thatcher been in power at the time, she would have sorted out Milosevic during the ethnic cleansing of Bosnia. Yet, somehow I imagine she would have been much more efficient (and successful) at it then either Sir John Major or Mr Blair.

    Besides Mrs T was our local MP (I live in Finchley & Golders Green) so no dissing!

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  • hmmm you should seriously read izetbegovic’s biography where he cites that the Brits under Major were responsible for enforcing the embargo against Bosnians thus leading to their massacre in Srebrenica etc

    quite a harrowing account.. it was the Americans who eventually came to their aid… hope you and TRP are well tho :)

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  • I’m well aware of Izetbegovic’s views of the Major government’s complicity in genocide (which I’m inclined to agree with). My point is that Thatcher would not have done the same. She would not have appeased Milosevic. She would have bombed Belgrade long before Clinton and Blair finally got around to doing so in 1998 (when Kosovo was being butchered). She was publically arguing not just for the arms embargo to be lifted but also for the West to actively arm the Bosnians. And she was doing so long before the concentration camps were first discovered by an ITN camera crew. Although I remember she came straight on to News at Ten that very evening not only re-iterating her call for the Bosnians to be armed but also calling for immediate air strikes against Serbia. She made a similar call in the US, writing in the New York Times and continued to criticise British policy long after the initial reaction to the ITN reports.

    (I may only have been 12 at the time but for some reason my recollection of all this is very vivid!)

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