Not only the British but the whole world is mourning for the passing of Margaret Thatcher, dubbed the Iron Lady.
Stroke claimed her on April 8, 2013 at age 87.
She was born as Margaret Hilda Roberts on October 13, 1925, in Grantham, Lincolnshire, England to Alfred and Beatrice Roberts
Her family lived in an apartment and down below it her father who was a businessman operates a grocery store. He was also a respected town leader, serving as lay leader with their church, city-alderman and then as mayor. He taught Margaret never to do things because other people are doing them; to do what she thinks is right and to persuade others to follow her.
She was educated at Grantham Girls’ High School, and attended from 1943 to 1947 Somerville College, Oxford University and earned a degree in Chemistry. While at Oxford University, Thatcher became president of the university’s Conservative Association.
She married Denis Thatcher in December 1951 and they had twin children, Mark Thatcher and Carol Thatcher.
In the 1950 and 1951 general elections, she was the Conservative candidate for the safe Labour seat of Dartford. She lost in both elections to Norman Dodds
In 1959, she won an elective post Member of Parliament for Finchley. She was one of the youngest and the only female member of the House of Commons.
After holding a number of junior posts, she was appointed Secretary of Education by Prime Minister Edward Heath in 1970. As Education Secretary, Thatcher was dubbed Thatcher the Milk Snatcher by those who opposed her move of stopping free milk to schools
In February 11, 1975, she accomplished a remarkable feat in an election for the leadership of the Conservative Party by winning the seat, defeating Edward Health.
On 19 January 1976 Thatcher, while delivering a speech in Kensington Town Hall, made a scathing attack on the Soviet Union. The Soviet Defence Ministry responded through its newspapaer Krasnaya Zvezda (Red Star) by calling her the “Iron Lady”, a tag she gladly adopted.
In May 1979, Thatcher captured the Prime Minister elective post with the strong backing of her party. Her election victories were repeated in 1983 and 1987. Her time as Prime Minister dovetailed with a time when the Labour Party, her main political enemy, was spilt over policies.
As Prime Minister, she ordered the Task Force to reclaim the Falklands. Her sterling and decisive leadership shown during the Falklands War in 1982 was instrumental in uniting the country behind her. The British people saw in her the epitome of the so-called Falkland Spirit.
As Great Britain’s Prime Minister, Thatcher ushered in revolutionary change to the country’s economic and foreign policy. After World War II, Britain shifted towards the left in implementing a vast welfare program and national healthcare. Industries became owned by the state and work hours were increasingly cut.
However the British economy became sluggish, followed by a long state of economic recession. In the 1980s, the Conservative government under Thatcher implemented conservative policies, the reverse of previous policies, to address the problem of economic decay and recession. Companies were privatized, taxes were lowered, monetary supply to prevent inflation were restricted, spending on welfare programs were cut, and limits on labor union rights were imposed.
Thatcher was a great warrior. She manifested it in her decision-making which is a far cry from the predictions of her opposition and the members of her own party as well
Thatcher advocated a stronger role for Britain in international politics. She was decisive in her victory in the Falklands War against Argentina. She helped the American campaigns in Grenada and other operations. She strongly pushed President George H.W. Bush to intervene in the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.
In November 1990, Thatcher’s Foreign Secretary, Sir Geoffrey Howe, resigned from the cabinet. He disliked Thatcher’s attitude towards Europe. His resignation speech in the House of Commons set in motion a series of events that saw the party turn against her.
Michael Heseltine stood against her for party leader. Heseltine lost the contest but he polled 152 seats – a number that clearly showed that Margaret Thatcher was no longer held in total esteem by all the party; she polled 204 votes. She was made to quit in the second ballot for party leader and her position was taken by John Major.
Margaret Thatcher left the House of Commons in 1992. She remained a formidable figure within the Conservative Party and the highlight at party conferences for a number of years. .
Now in the House of Lords, Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven left her mark on the 1980’s like few other politicians have ever done. The ‘Iron Lady’ was Prime Minister for 11 years and 209 days – a figure not likely to be broken in future years. In 1995, she became the first non-royal Lady Companion of the Order of the Garter.
Women leaders worldwide saw in her as a good role model. Thatcher has faced and survived many struggles in the male-dominated world of politics. Undaunted, she pursued plans, measures and policies for the common good even if faced with difficulties. She became a powerful leader of Britain during harsh economic times. Her strong demeanor allowed her to prove her critics wrong about being a female leader. You can either loved or hate her, but her legacy lives strong as a brilliant political mastermind and a fearless prime minister.
• Height: 5’ – 5 ½”
• Spouse: Married Dennis Thatcher on December 13, 1951; he died on June 26, 2003
• She served as the United Kingdom’s first and to date only female Prime Minister from May 4, 1979 to November 28, 1990.
• Raised to the peerage in 1992, thereafter known as Baroness Thatcher
• Targeted for assassination by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in 1984, she escaped unharmed while working on her speech when a bomb exploded at the Grand Hotel in Brighton where she was staying for the annual Tory Conference. But the bomb which was meant for her, kill instead one Conservative MP, one Conservative politician and 4 female attendees, including members of her government who sustained injuries like Norman Tebbit and John Wakeham .
• Was a tax lawyer
• Is Britain’s only 20th-century PM to serve three consecutive terms.
• Was a research chemist.
• Before entering politics, she was a scientist, at one time working on the chemistry of ice cream.
• Voted the 3rd worst Briton in Channel Four’s poll of the 100 Worst Britons.
• In August 2008 daughter Carol Thatcher revealed that her mother had been displaying symptoms of dementia for the past seven years.
• During her time as British Prime Minister, she cut income tax on the country’s top earners by more than half. When she was elected in 1979, the top rate of income tax had stood at 83% since 1974. She immediately reduced it to 60% and in 1988 her government reduced it again, this time to 40%.
Quotes that serve her beacon light:
• Capitalism only works by spreading to more of the population what used to be the privileges of the few.
• Free choice is ultimately what life is about.
• I would never be prepared to give up our own currency.
• Our party is the party of equality of opportunity.
• I do not know anyone who has got to the top without hard work. That is the recipe. It will not always get you to the top, but should get you pretty near.
• [On proposed British integration into the European Union] No, no, no and never
• I firmly believe in law and order and in standing up for authority, otherwise we should have no free society.
• The Russians said that I was an iron lady. They were right. Britain needs an iron lady.
• Free choice is ultimately what life is about.
• I am profoundly concerned about unemployment. Human dignity and self-respect are undermined when men and women are condemned to idleness.
• To those waiting with bated breath for that favourite media catchphrase, the U- turn, I have only one thing to say: You turn if you want to. The lady’s not for turning.