Margaret Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher
Born: Oct 13, 1925 in Grantham, England
Died: April 8, 2013 (at age 87) in London, England
Nationality: English
Famous For: Prime Minister of the UK from 1979 to 1990
Awards: Presidential Medal of Freedom

Margaret Hilda Thatcher was a British politician, leader of the Conservative and the United Kindgom’s Prime Minister for several years. She was the longest continuously serving prime minister since 1827, winning three consecutive terms, and actually the first female prime minister. She was known to be the most divisive Prime Minister of the 20th century (she was often called the “Iron Lady of Politics), gaining great reverence as well as deep hatred.

Thatcher’s Early Life

Margaret Thatcher was born in Grantham on October 13, 1925. Her father, Alfred Roberts, was a lay preacher, a grocer, and a local mayor. As a result, Margaret’s interest in politics was developed very early and she even held the position of president of the Oxford Conservative Association while studying chemistry at the institution.

After graduating in 1946, Margaret took a job as a research chemist which she held for four years. During those years, she studied law and in 1954, she became a barrister.

Leadership in Politics

Margaret won her first election in 1959, but her first appearance in parliament was in 1950. After winning the Finchley seat in London in 1959, she focused on rising within the ranks. In 1967, she entered the Shadow cabinet and became the Minister for Education in 1970.

While at this office, she strongly advocated for the increase of funds allocation in the education sector as well as the creation of more comprehensive educational institutions. Margaret rose to public prominence when she cancelled the free school milk program, earning the nickname “Thatcher the Milk Snatcher.”

Leadership as Prime Minister

Margaret Thatcher became the leader of the Conservative Party in 1974 after defeating Edward Heath by 11 votes. She then led the opposition party to winning the Prime Minister’s position in 1979. When Thatcher assumed office, the state of Britain’s economy was poor.

This led her to adopt an economic theory called Monetarism, accompanied by several decisions such as scraping government regulations on businesses and subsidies.

However, this led to the failure of many businesses, high unemployment, and double inflation. She countered this situation with high taxation and changes in money supply leading to a fall in inflation. This, however, earned her opposition from economists and the general public.

Thatcherism

Margaret’s critics have accused her of lacking unified sets of policies during her time in office. However, some ideals and practice have been identified with her as well as her government. These policies are referred to as Thatcherism. Her government saw the privatization of several industries, including the electricity and water industries. Her government also clamped down on trade unions, passing laws that were designed to limit strikes.

The most recognized event that happened during her term in office is the Miners Strike in 1984. Britain’s miners took to the streets protesting the government’s move to close “uneconomic” pits. She managed to organize Britain around the protesting miners, forcing them to go back to work without concessions.

Other aspects of her style included reducing social service expenses, placing limits of print money and selling council houses to tenants. Margaret Thatcher also lowered taxes. She had a fierce combative approach and a strong individualism, personal aspects that can be identified with her politics and governance.

Third Office and Defeat

Margaret narrowly survived the IRA bombing in 1984. This earned her sympathy and she won the General Election in 1987. Her third term in office was characterized by two major friction points – Community Charge, also known as Poll Tax, and a strong opposition to the European Union.

The economic situation worsened in 1989 and 1990 with a recession and high levels of unemployment. During the campaign for her fourth term, she left the parliament and became a Baroness of Kestevan in the House of Lords. She also started talking publicly around the world. Margaret retired from public speaking in 2002 after a series of strokes. She died on April 8, 2013, after suffering a stroke.