The only female prime minister of Great Britain.
Birth date: October 13, 1925
Birth place: Grantham, Lincolnshire, England
Birth name: Margaret Hilda Roberts
Father: Alfred Roberts, grocer
Mother: Beatrice Ethel (Stephenson) Roberts, grocer
Marriage: Sir Denis Thatcher (December 13, 1951- June 26, 2003, his death)
Children: Mark and Carol (twins), August 15, 1953
Education: Somerville College at Oxford College, Chemistry, 1943-1947; Passed the bar, 1953
The only female prime minister of Great Britain.
Called the Iron Lady, for personal and political toughness.
Only British prime minister of the 20th century to win three consecutive terms. (Former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s first of three terms began in the 20th, but ended in the 21st.)
During her time as prime minister, she emphasized the rights of the individual versus that of the state, moral absolutism and nationalism.
In her first term, Thatcher reduced or eliminated many government subsidies to business, a move that lead to a sharp rise in unemployment. By 1986, unemployment had reached 3 million.
Enjoyed a close friendship and working relationship with US President Ronald Reagan, with whom she shared similar conservative views.
Margaret Thatcher, the Iron Lady, was the greatest British premier of modern times and a leader in the world politics that steered her country out of crises and directed it toward development in the real sense. She was the longest-serving British Prime Minister of the 20th century (1976-1990) and is the first-ever, and the only woman till today, to have held the office. She was a research chemist, patent solicitor, politician and leader of the Conservative Party from 1975-1990. She convincingly broke class, gender and education barriers. The ‘Iron Lady’ entered the world of active politics after the World War II and went on to prove herself the most powerful and dominating political figure of her time.
With her election as the Prime Minister, Ms Thatcher brought power back to the Conservative Party after a lapse of more than five years during which the Labour Party ruled. Being fully aware of the crises faced by her country, she outrightly set out to work on the revival of the pride and vigour of the nation and also took radical steps to eliminate the traditional bureaucratic hegemony. On the steps of 10 Downing Street, she said, “Where there is discord,
may we bring harmony. Where there is error, may we bring truth. Where there is doubt, may we bring faith. And where there is despair, may we bring hope.”
The policies, she introduced, came to be known as Thatcherism. The ideas of ‘Thatcherism’ were based on freedom. She held the view that nations could become great only if individuals were set free. Margaret brought substantial changes not only to the Conservative politics but to the whole of the British politics. Her ardour and fervency for privatization gave birth to global revolution that helped to bring an end to the USSR.
Charles Moore authorized biographer of Ms Thatcher wrote in Telegraph on 11th April, 2013 that the British, to her, were brave and unique. When the war leadership was pressurizing her during the Falklands crisis, she quoted Shakespeare: Nothing shall make us rue if England to itself do rest but true. ‘She dreamed of England as a nation true to itself.
Mrs Thatcher realized in 1974 that her nation was falling as trade union power, bureaucratic setup, high taxes and inflation were bad omens. She believed by now that men in charge had not put things right and couldn’t handle right anymore, but a she could do it. Her ambitious ideas added essence to her patriotic thoughts. She won elections in 1979 because she was not only a decisive political figure but her campaign also left an indelible mark on the minds of the British citizenry. She talked of proper rewards for hard work and gave realistic hopes of good governance.
She succeeded in installing cruise missiles in Europe despite massive opposition. She also won along Ronald Reagan in containing Soviet expansionism. In 1976, the SU bestowed upon her the title of ‘Iron Lady’, after she had spoken against the policy of ‘d’tente’ that was tearing the defence fabric of the West apart. She had the unique quality of rejoicing in her foes, whether they were Soviets, or General Galtieri of Argentina, or Arthur Scargill.
After successfully containing the Soviet expansionism, she later proved to be the first to recognise the potentials of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. She, despite intermittent warnings from America, declared Gorbachev as the only person ‘she could business with’.
Hugo Young, Thatcher’s another biographer, cited that Thatcher will be remembered for her achievements. She became a self-confident ruler who dominated for all her 11 years in power. Her greatest virtue was in the fact that she cared little if people liked her. She needed followers who could manage to go along with her unpopular policies.
Some Brits would remember her as the legend that saved their nation. A British Labour Party politician, Peter Mandelson, said about her, ‘We are all Thatcherites now’. Those who believe in socialism in Britain would always complain that Thatcher’s belief in free markets and individual wealth creation had damaged the social fabric of the community as it encouraged selfishness and inequality.
Kimberly Gomoll described Thatcher as a woman who had transformed the British policy for more socioeconomic reforms. She made Britain a better place to live for workers, women, children and the disadvantaged.
As we absorb the tragic loss of one of history’s most impressive figures, it is most suitable to conclude in the word of the incumbent British Premier, David Cameron. He said:
“As our first woman prime minister, Margaret Thatcher succeeded against all the odds, and the real thing about Margaret Thatcher is that she didn’t just lead our country, she saved our country, and I believe she will go down as the greatest British peacetime prime minister.’