The Baroness Thatcher
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (1983)
|Prime Minister of the United Kingdom|
4 May 1979 – 28 November 1990
|Deputy||Sir Geoffrey Howe (1989–90)|
|Preceded by||James Callaghan|
|Succeeded by||John Major|
|Leader of the Opposition|
11 February 1975 – 4 May 1979
|Preceded by||Edward Heath|
|Succeeded by||James Callaghan|
|Leader of the Conservative Party|
11 February 1975 – 28 November 1990
|Deputy||The Viscount Whitelaw|
|Preceded by||Edward Heath|
|Succeeded by||John Major|
Margaret Hilda Roberts
13 October 1925
Grantham, Lincolnshire, England
|Died||8 April 2013 (aged 87)|
Westminster, London, England
(m. 1951; died 2003)
Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher LG OM DStJ PC FRS (13 October 1925 – 8 April 2013) was a British stateswoman. She served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (UK) from 1979 to 1990, longer than any other British prime minister in the 20th century. She led the UK's Conservative Party from 1975 to 1990. Thatcher was the first female British prime minister and was often known by the nickname "The Iron Lady", given to her by a journalist from the Soviet Union. Her birth name was Margaret Hilda Roberts.
Thatcher studied chemistry at Somerville College, Oxford, and worked briefly as a research chemist, before becoming a barrister. She was elected Member of Parliament (MP) for Finchley in 1959. Edward Heath made her a Secretary of State in his government of 1970 to 1974. In 1975, she beat Heath in the Conservative Party leadership election to become Leader of the Opposition and the first woman to lead a major British political party. In 1979, she was elected Prime Minister, and won a landslide re-election in 1983 after victory in the 1982 Falklands War and the recovering economy brought a revival of support.
Thatcher was re-elected for a third term with another landslide in 1987, but her following support for the Community Charge ("poll tax") was very unpopular, and her more Eurosceptic views on the European Community were not shared by others in her Cabinet. She resigned as Prime Minister and party leader in November 1990, after a challenge was made by Michael Heseltine to her leadership. After retiring from the House of Commons in 1992, she was given a life peerage as Baroness Thatcher, which gave her the right to sit in the House of Lords. In 2013, she died of a stroke in London, at the age of 87.
Although a controversial figure in British political culture, Thatcher is still viewed positively in most opinion polls of British prime ministers. The debate over her neoliberal policies and legacy in the UK continues into the 21st century.
Early life[change | change source]
Margaret Roberts was born in Grantham, Lincolnshire, on 13 October 1925. Her father was Alfred Roberts, a tobacconist originally from Northamptonshire. Her mother was Beatrice Ethel Stephenson, from Lincolnshire.
Thatcher studied chemistry at Somerville College, Oxford. In her final year, she studied X-ray crystallography under Dorothy Hodgkin, who later won the Nobel Prize. She was already interested in politics, and became President of the Oxford University Conservative Association in 1946. Roberts read political works such as Friedrich von Hayek's The Road to Serfdom (1944), which said economic intervention by government was wrong, because it gave too much power to the state. After graduating, Roberts moved to Colchester in Essex to work as a research chemist for BX Plastics.
She was elected an MP in 1959. She became Education Secretary in 1970.
As Prime Minister[change | change source]
Thatcher directed British troops in 1982 to get back the Falkland Islands from Argentina. Argentina had taken the Falklands for a short time during the Falklands War. She had the second longest single prime ministerial term in history.[source?] She married Denis Thatcher; they had twins: son Mark and daughter Carol.
She suffered from strong opposition during a coal miner's strike in 1984 and 1985. The strike took away political power from the miners' union. There was also controversy when she introduced a poll tax to Britain. This caused rioting across the country.
She was forced to resign by her own party in 1990. She was replaced by John Major. In 1992, she stood down as PM. She then joined the House of Lords. From then on, she was known as "Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven".
During Thatcher's years as prime minister, unemployment rose a lot. It doubled during her first term. In 1982, 3 million people were unemployed. Unemployment started to decline again only in the mid- to late-1980s. Since the mid-1990s, Britain has consistently had lower unemployment than most of continental Europe. Thatcher's supporters claim this is the result of her reform of the labour market. This is disputed by her opponents.
She is remembered in the UK for reducing the trade union movement's power. Trade unions were much more powerful in the 1970s. Thatcher did much to reduce their influence on British industry.
Thatcher was the first woman to be Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. She was also the first woman to be Conservative Party leader.
Personal life[change | change source]
In February 1949, she met Denis Thatcher. They met at a Paint Trades Federation event in Dartford. They married on 13 December 1951, at a chapel in City Road, London; the Robertses, Margaret's parents, were Methodists. Margaret and Denis had twin children, Carol and Mark, who were born on 15 August 1953, six weeks prematurely by Caesarean section.
Later life[change | change source]
Her husband Denis died in 2003 from pancreatic cancer. She attended Ronald Reagan's funeral service in 2004. In the later years of her life, she suffered from dementia and withdrew from public engagements in 2002. In 2006, Thatcher attended the official Washington memorial service to mark the fifth anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the United States (US). She was a guest of Vice President Dick Cheney, and met Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during her visit. She would also visit several times for ceremonies that honoured Reagan.[source?]
Death[change | change source]
Thatcher died from a stroke on 8 April 2013 at her hotel room in London, aged 87. She had bladder cancer and dementia at the time of her death. In line with her wishes she received a ceremonial funeral, including full military honours, with a church service at St Paul's Cathedral on 17 April. Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip attended the funeral, only the second time in the Queen's reign that she had attended the funeral of a former prime minister.
References[change | change source]
- "Margaret Thatcher". BBC History. Retrieved 8 April 2013.
- Frei, Matt (24 October 2007). "Washington diary: Best of friends?". BBC News. Retrieved 5 September 2009.
- Beckett, Clare (2006). Margaret Thatcher. Haus. pp. 17/21. ISBN 978-1-904950-71-4.
- "Essential Margaret Thatcher". Margaret Thatcher Foundation. Retrieved 18 April 2011.
- "Book Recounts Margaret Thatcher's Decline". CBS News. 11 February 2009. Retrieved 8 April 2013.
- "Ex-Prime Minister Baroness Thatcher dies". BBC News. 8 April 2013. Retrieved 8 April 2013.
- Mason, Rowena (16 April 2013). "Margaret Thatcher described as 'retired stateswoman' on death certificate". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
Other websites[change | change source]
- Media related to Margaret Thatcher at Wikimedia Commons
- Margaret Thatcher Foundation
- Her obituary (a life story) on the BBC News website
- Margaret Thatcher in Citizendium
|Parliament of the United Kingdom (1801–present)|
| Member of Parliament for Finchley
| Secretary of State for Education and Science
| Leader of the Opposition
| Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
|Party political offices|
| Leader of the Conservative Party
| Recipient of the Ronald Reagan Freedom Award