One of the most controversial British heads of state since King Charles I, Margaret Thatcher was 64 when she became Prime Minister, and had been in Parliament for twenty years. She rapidly became known for the strength of her convictions – which unfortunately included more than a few she’d developed after drinking the free market kool aid.
Margaret Thatcher would serve as Prime Minister until 1990, presiding over the privatisation of many government services and Britain’s successful prosecution of the Falklands War in 1982. Few world leaders have ever been as hated by the left, or as good at unintentionally recruiting for it.
Aneurin ‘Nye’ Bevan was a Welshman from Tredegar who rose through the union ranks to become Minister of Health in Clement Attlee’s 1945 government. In this role, he became the primary architect of the National Health Service, Britain’s public health care system. It was inspired by the Tredegar Medical Aid Society in Bevan’s hometown, but operated at a much larger scale. At its launch by Bevan on 5 July 1948 it had at its heart three core principles: That it meet the needs of everyone, that it be free at the point of delivery, and that it be based on clinical need, not ability to pay.
In the years since then, it has treated millions of people, saving the lives of many, and become one of the most beloved institutions in the country – to the lasting frustration of assorted conservative governments, who are always attempting to make it go away.