Life of Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Thatcher was the first female prime minister of England, elected in 1979.
Politician and former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher was born as Margaret Roberts on October 13, 1925 in Grantham, England. Nicknamed the "Iron Lady," Thatcher served as the prime minister of England from 1979 to 1990. A good student, Thatcher was accepted to Oxford University, where she studied chemistry at Somerville College. Politically active, Thatcher served as president of the Conservative Association at the university. Early Foray into Politics
|Margaret Thatcher: "Europe was created by history. America was created by philosophy."|
Only two years after graduating college, Thatcher made her first bid for public office. She ran as the conservative candidate for a Dartford parliamentary seat in the 1950 elections. Defeated, Thatcher remained undaunted. Two months after her loss, she married Denis Thatcher.
In 1952, Thatcher put politics aside for a time to study law. After completing her training, Thatcher qualified as a barrister, a type of lawyer, in 1953. Thatcher won a seat in the House of Commons in 1959, representing Finchley.
Clearly a woman on the rise, Thatcher was appointed parliamentary under secretary for pensions and national insurance in 1961. When the Labour Party assumed control of the government, she became a member of what is called the Shadow Cabinet, which is a group of political leaders who would hold cabinet level posts if their party was in power.
Britain's First Female Premier
When the Conservatives returned to office in June 1970, Thatcher was appointed secretary of state for education and science, becoming famous as "Thatcher, milk snatcher," after her abolition of the universal free school milk scheme. Seemingly disenchanted on the future of women in politics, Thatcher was quoted as saying "I don't think there will be a woman prime minister in my lifetime," during a 1973 television appearance.
Thatcher soon proved herself wrong. While the Conservative Party lost power in 1974, Thatcher became a dominant force in her political party. She was elected leader of the Conservative Party in 1975, beating out Heath for the position. With this victory, Thatcher became the first woman to serve as the opposition leader in the House of Commons. England was in a time of economic and political turmoil with the government nearly bankrupt, employment on the rise, and conflicts with the labor unions. This instability helped return the Conservatives to power in 1979. As the party leader, Thatcher made history in May of 1979, when she was appointed as Britain's first female prime minister.
As prime minister, Thatcher battled the country's recession by initially raising interest rates to control inflation. The two shared similar right-wing, pro-corporate political philosophies.
Thatcher faced a military challenge during her first term. In April 1982, Argentina invaded the Falkland islands. Taking swift action, Thatcher sent British troops to the territory to retake the islands in what became known as the Falklands War. Argentina surrendered in June 1982.
In her second term, from 1983 to 1987, Thatcher handled a number of conflicts and crises. As for foreign policy, Thatcher met with Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet leader, in 1984. Publicly, Thatcher voiced her support for Ronald Reagan’s air raids on Libya in 1986 and allowed the U.S. forces to use British bases to help carry out the attack.
Returning for a third term in 1987, Thatcher sought to implement a standard educational curriculum across the nation and make changes to the country's socialized medical system. Hugely unpopular, this policy led to public protests and caused dissention within her party. Thatcher initially pressed on for fight for party leadership in 1990, but she eventually yielded to pressure from party members and announced her intentions to resign on November 22, 1990. On November 28, 1990, Thatcher left office, departing from 10 Downing Street, the prime minister's official residence, for the last time.
Life After Politics
Not long after leaving office, Thatcher was appointed to the House of Lords, as Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven, in 1992. In 2002, Thatcher's book, Statecraft, was published and offered her views on international politics.
Around this time, Thatcher had a series of small strokes. In 2005, Thatcher celebrated her eightieth birthday. Thatcher's health has the subject of much concern in recent years. In 2011, Thatcher sat out such major events as the wedding of Prince William in April, and the unveiling of the Ronald Reagan sculpture in London in July.
Also in July 2011, Thatcher's office in the House of Lords was permanently closed. Thatcher, battling memory problems
Thatcher's policies and actions are still debated by detractors and supporters alike, illustrating the indelible impression that she has left on Britain and nations worldwide.