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I Grew Up in 1980s Britain - But Please Don't Call Me One of Thatcher's Children

10/04/2013 09:35 BST | Updated 10/04/2013 09:35 BST

In the early 1990s I was a young reporter working on a national newspaper. One day one of my bosses told me, quite seriously, that 'women like me owed a lot to Margaret Thatcher.'

I nearly spilt my vending machine coffee on my puffball skirt.

I was 11 when Margaret Thatcher came to power, and grew up in 1980s Britain. I remember the 1970s, of course - the strikes and the bomb scares and I know there was high inflation, so I'm not wearing rose-tinted glasses about that decade.

But this is what I remember about the Thatcher years, during which I was first a schoolgirl, and then a university student, and finally an employee.

I remember the riots, high unemployment, high interest rates, school closures and the introduction of the poll tax.

I remember the pit closures and how this impacted on the lives of mining communities across Britain (and continues to do so).

I remember genuine fear, caused by the arrival of cruise missiles on British soil. My school held - I'm not kidding - a nuclear bomb practice.

I remember the Hunger Strikes and continued Irish Troubles, the Falklands War, and Thatcher's refusal to introduce sanctions against apartheid.

And I remember that many people lost their jobs, including my father, which had devastating consequences for their families.

Rather than making me into a Tory, my experience of life in Britain under Thatcher ensured that I would never vote Conservative.

It's often said that Margaret Thatcher 'modernised Britain'. And of course there were the boom years, when some people did very well. But life was good for the minority, not the majority, and interest rates and unemployment quickly crept up again during her premiership. The red braces worn by the traders were as much as symbol of everything that was wrong with Thatcher's Britain as her ridiculously overblown hair do. She encouraged a culture of greed, and it definitely wasn't good.

Margaret Thatcher may have been the first British female prime minister (and it is utterly ridiculous that there hasn't been another since), but no one can really claim in all sincerity that she was a feminist. I have had plenty of female role models, but she is not one of them.

And I'm definitely not one of Thatcher's Children.