Ten years ago this week an election swept Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to power, and she continues to prevail over a divided opposition despite a recent poll indicating a lot of voters are fed up with her.
There was no word from No. 10 Downing St. of any special events to mark the anniversary, which television, radio, newspapers and magazines have marked with numerous programs and articles in recent weeks.Thatcher, 63, is the century's longest continuously serving British prime minister, and the headquarters of her Conservative Party has printed a glossy booklet called "The First 10 Years" glowing with praise for her.
She is now midway through her third term following Conservative victories in the 1983 and 1987 general elections. Despite indications of growing dislike among many voters of her strong-willed personality and right-wing policies, she has said she plans to try for a fourth term.
A series of polls released this week indicate most Britons want Thatcher to step down soon, and they think her right-wing revolution has gone too far.
But while they said they don't like her, the likelihood is they will go on voting for her because they respect the woman who has always led what The Economist weekly calls a "reluctant nation."
The Economist noted, for example, that virtually throughout Thatcher's tenure, Gallup soundings have never registered more than 24 percent support for a basic Thatcher doctrine: tax cuts rather than increased state spending, particularly on welfare.
The soundings published Sunday and Tuesday are part of a nationwide assessment of "Thatcherism" prompted by the anniversary of the Conservative Party's 1979 election triumph over Prime Minister James Callaghan's Labor Party government.
Thatcher took office the following day, May 4. Europe's first woman prime minister had been elected by a nation weary of strikes and inflation and yearning for strong government to reverse national decline.
In the opinion polls, she scored high for qualities such as determination and courage. Her most popular policies, the polls showed, are curbing the trade unions and allowing public housing tenants to buy their homes.
Britons see their country as having gained respect abroad, while becoming a more aggressive, violent and selfish society.
A leader who set out to wipe out socialism from Britain, Thatcher also appears in most soundings to be presiding over a nation that has not taken her message to its heart.
A Market and Opinion Research International poll published this week in a London daily showed only 30 percent support for the notion that "private interests and a free market economy should dominate."
According to a Harris poll in London's liberal Observer newspaper, 58 percent think 10 years of Thatcher is enough. And 66 percent agreed with the statement, "Mrs. Thatcher has gone too far in her policies."
But just 7 percent of the 1,040 voters questioned by Harris actually expected Thatcher to resign within the next few years.
The soundings also showed a generally subdued reckoning by voters of the Thatcher revolution.