Posh, Ginger, Scary, Baby and Sporty and the unyielding Girl Power movement embodied the rise of the ‘ladette’ culture in the UK during a time that saw empowered young women go out and get what they (really really) wanted with all the determination, force and boisterously assertiveness of their young male counterparts.
This was the mid and second half of the 1990s, also referred to as the ‘Cool Britannia’ era, a bygone time before political correctness and cancel culture. This was also a time that saw exuberant pride in the culture of the United Kingdom and the now-iconic vision that was Geri Halliwell strutting down the ramp in a tight-fitting Union Jack dress on stage at the 1997 Brit Awards that epitomised the peak of this newly found patriotism in all things British.
However, while the Spice Girls may have created the Girl Power phenomenal, it was former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher that pioneered what it was like to be a strong, courageous and ballsy woman. Decked in her signature twin-set, pearls and handbag, you could say that the Iron Lady was an unsung heroine of British feminism and her legacy gave birth to a new generation of young and determined females who just like the daughter of a local grocer in Grantham, defied all the odds that were stacked against her.
Those very same resolute and single-minded females would go on to be the biggest-selling girl band of all time and achieve worldwide fame and success while cementing their place as pop royalty. But while their critics would cite pop mogul and the Spice Girls manager Simon Fuller, who would later go on to create the hugely successful Pop Idol and American Idol as the sole reason for the success of Girl Power, the unlikely source and credit of the British pop quintet and mantra of female empowerment is, in fact, the Iron Lady herself.
It’s hard to imagine but once upon a time, those rebellious Spice Girls were massive Tories and cited the former Prime Minister as the originator of Girl Power. In 1996 the Spice Girls were interviewed for The Spectator, a weekly British magazine on culture, and current affairs about their politics, and those opinionated Spices didn’t hold back. This was the time when those in the public eye could share their views on the single currency and call John Major a “Boring pillock” as they would later go on to say in the now infamous interview without fear of facing a digital witch burning on Twitter.
“We Spice Girls are true Thatcherites. She was the first Spice Girl, the pioneer of our ideology - Girl Power” said the then 24-year-old fiercely vocal Ginger Spice. Further on in the interview, the girls further explained the origin of their now-famous V sign hand gesture which often accompanied the battle cry of Girl Power was in fact a nod to wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Liverpudlian Mel C, aka Sporty Spice, was a little more subtle than her bandmates, complimenting that then Labour Party leader, Tony Blair was “Charming” while her bandmate Ginger Spice was more suspicious, adding that he’s “just not a pair of safe hands for the economy”.
How right that prediction would turn out to be.
Posh Spice, the now Mrs Victoria Beckham and renowned global fashion designer in the headstrong interview claimed that the Spice Girls would “Never vote Labour” and added that “If we were a party there is no way we would form a government with Labour”.
But not just content with being apprehensive of Blair’s manhandling of the British economy, it seems that those savvy Spice Girls were bonafide Brexiteers, 17 years before 17.4 million Brits voted to leave the European Union during the Brexit showdown in 2016.
“The whole European federal plan is ridiculous. We are patriotic. The single currency is an outrage. We want the Queen's head - or the king's head if we have a king - on our coins” said Victoria, who would later go on to support Remain in the EU referendum.
“But the single currency is more important,' continued the former Eurosceptic Posh “The Euro-bureaucrats are destroying every bit of national identity. Those new passports are revolting, an insult to our kingdom, our independence.”
Geri added “We travel throughout Europe. All those countries look the same. Only England looks different.”
They continued their swipes at the E.U, labelling the unelected bureaucrats “Some bloke in Germany making decisions for us”.
That ‘bloke’ would later turn into the former Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, who as we all know, transformed the UK from a Union Jack flag-waving Spice World to a Calais Jungle during the height of the migrant crisis of 2015 when E.U countries received over 1.2 million asylum applications from Syrian and Afghan migrants.
Once again, those spices predicted the future, and quite frankly it was a little bit… too much!
Margaret Thatcher would go on to serve as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990 with her manicured iron grip bringing in a wave of personal reasonability and privatisation while fending off the clutches of socialism and union reps.
The Spice Girls would go on to reign supreme as the harmonious heroines of pop from 1996 until 2000 before reforming with and without anti-Brexit Posh Spice over the years, their most recent reunion in 2019 racking up $78.2 million in ticket sales.
And what of the pop and political unlikely duet between the Spice Girls and Margaret Thatcher? When the sad news broke on April 8 2013 that the former Conservative Party leader had passed away, Geri took to Twitter to pay her respects, writing: "Thinking of our 1st Lady of girl power, Margaret Thatcher, a greengrocer's daughter who taught me anything is possible…x.”
However, unlike in the mid-nineties when having an opinion was acceptable, Ginger found herself amidst an online backlash from angry leftists and Labour socialists, which promoted the Spice Girl to delete her tribute for Thatcher before issuing an apology to her social media followers.
What had happened to the unapologetic courageousness of Girl Power? It seemed that even the mighty force of the once uncompromising Ginger Spice was no match for the modern trend of cancel culture, as Halliwell retracted her previous tweet and gave in to the online mob.
“I felt compelled to tweet my thoughts for a female leader, in a world governed by men,” Halliwell later recalled in a blog post about the incident. "I was so confused and overwhelmed by some of the feedback I received that I took my tweet down and for that, I was called spineless."
“What I hated the most was that I took a tweet down. I had wavered and was full of self-doubt,” she further added.
“But now I realise that I do admire a woman, whether she is right or wrong, regardless of her opinions. She had the courage to stand by her convictions. Not like me. I look at my behaviour, which exposed how weak I was under fire, not like Margaret Thatcher. Rest in peace.”
In an interview with Swedish journalist Stina Dabrowski in 1995, Margaret Thatcher was asked does she like being a woman. “I enjoy being a woman, I haven’t tried the alternative, and I don’t want to!” barked the former Prime Minister before giving the interviewer that knowing Thatcher gaze that had intimidated both men (and women) during her time in Number 10 Downing Street.
Feminists claim that Margaret Thatcher held back women and did not support or encourage women in politics, while her female critics argue she knew nothing of female solidarity and had no interest in social equality. But whether intentional or not, the Iron Lady inspired five young women who would later go on to conquer the world in a blaze of hot pants, leopard print and… zig a zig ahs.
The lady may not have been for turning, but one thing is for sure, and that is the former greengrocer's daughter undoubtedly had Girl Power and was the original Spice Girl.