By Rick Dandes
The Daily Item
SUNBURY — A former top New Jersey government official, who met Margaret Thatcher almost 17 years ago at her London home, recalled that even though she had left office, she was politically astute and a strong friend of America.
“I was in London on a trade mission,” said Carlos Kearns, of Beavertown, who was director of international trade during the administration of New Jersey Gov. Christine Whitman.
“Gov. Whitman met with Lady Thatcher at her home in Eaton Square, and I went along,” Kearns said. “This was about six years after she was prime minister. Lady Thatcher was very capable and gave the governor great advice. I remember she was an inspiration to Christine Whitman, and to many other women. She talked to us about politics, with a focus on women in leadership positions.”
Thatcher was a great fan of the United States, Kearns recalled. “She was close to Ronald Reagan and advised George H. Bush when he became president. She was very aware of what was happening in American politics.”
Kearns was a student in Great Britain during the Thatcher years, he said. “And she was certainly controversial,” he said. “Reviled and despised at the same time she helped move the country out of difficult economic times.”
Combative and determined to get her way, Margaret Thatcher, who was known as the “Iron Lady,” divided opinion down the middle in life — and in death.
“She was extremely influential but also extremely divisive, and her legacy continues to divide Britain, the gracious comments coming from various leaders today notwithstanding,” said Andrea Stevenson Sanjian, associate professor and chairwoman of the Department of Political Science at Bucknell University and director of the Bucknell in London program. “Thatcher freed the financial sector from many regulations and helped bring about huge growth in this sector. On the other hand, she also oversaw the de-industrialization of Britain, and there are parts of the country that have still not recovered and that remain bitterly opposed to all she represents.”