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Facts about Margaret Thatcher

Uttara Manohar Mar 17, 2020
Margaret Thatcher was one of the most well-known Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom. "The Iron Lady", as she was popularly known, died on April 8, 2013. She was given a ceremonial funeral attended by important dignitaries including Queen Elizabeth II and former British Prime Minister David Cameron.
Margaret Thatcher, the first and so far, the only woman to become the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom died of a stroke on 8th April, 2013 in London. She was given a ceremonial funeral at St. Paul's Cathedral on April 17. Her death has provoked unprecedented debate about her legacy in Britain and around the world.
Although Margaret Thatcher was one of the towering personalities of the twentieth-century Britain, her thirteen years in office were marked by some radical economic policies, and the Falklands War with Argentina. Her death has brought into spotlight her policies and their after-effects.
People supportive of her ideology credit her for being the leader who brought Britain out of a severe economic turmoil and made it one of the financial powerhouses of the world.
Her opponents, on the other hand, have been blunt with their criticism of her, blaming her for sowing the seeds of privatization of national assets, which they claim, led to the economic recession of 2008. As we mentioned earlier, there are varied opinions as far as Thatcher's legacy is concerned, but facts about her life are bare for all to see.

Margaret Thatcher: From Grocer's Daughter to Prime Minister

Margaret Thatcher was born Margaret Hilda Roberts in Grantham, Lincolnshire, on October 13, 1925. Her father, Alfred Roberts, was a grocer and met her mother Beatrice Ethel (née Stephenson) in Finkin Street Methodist Church. Roberts was active in politics, and supported the Conservative party.
He had the distinction of becoming the alderman (1943) and the Mayor of Grantham (1945-46). It is widely believed that Alfred Roberts was a major influence on Margaret Thatcher, and imbued in her the virtues of hard work and thrift.
Talking about the influence her father had on her, Margaret Thatcher said,

"I just owe almost everything to my father and it's passionately interesting for me that the things that I learned in a small town, in a very modest home, are just the things that I believe have won the election."
Margaret Thatcher attended the Huntingtower Road Council School from 1930 to 1936. She received a scholarship to study in the Kesteven and Grantham Girls School and was the "Head Girl" from 1942-43. She completed her graduation from the Somerville College of the University of Oxford, receiving a degree in Bachelor of Science (Chemistry).
During this stint, she was active in college politics and became the president of the Oxford University Conservative Education in 1946. In her final year at Somerville College, she studied under Dorothy Hodgkin, who would later go on to win The Nobel Prize in Chemistry (1964).
After completing her education, Margaret Thatcher looked for a job and briefly worked as a research chemist for BX Plastics. She continued to be involved in politics and joined the Dartford Conservative Association. She decided to shift base to Dartford so that she could actively participate in the upcoming general elections of 1950.
While preparing for the general elections of 1950, Margaret Thatcher worked with the famous hospitality company, J. Lyons and Co. There, she was believed to have played a role in making emulsifiers for ice-creams.
Surprisingly, Margaret Thatcher was chosen as the Conservative candidate for the Dartford seat in 1949 for the general elections scheduled next year. She was at that time, the youngest woman candidate in the country. She contested against the Labour candidate Norman Dodds and polled 24,490 votes.
Although she lost the election, she was lauded for her oratory and campaigning skills. Margaret Thatcher again contested the Dartford parliamentary seat for the Conservative Party when the Labour decided to hold the general elections in 1951. She again lost to Norman Dodds, but increased her votes to 27,760, up by around 4% from the previous year.
Margaret met Denis Thatcher, a businessman, during a function in Dartford in February 1949. Denis Thatcher was divorced and had served in the army for which he had been appointed as a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE). They married on December 13, 1951 in London, and Margaret gave birth to twins, Carol and Mark, in 1953.
After her marriage to Denis Thatcher, Margaret studied to become a barrister at the Inns of Court School of Law. She completed the course in 1954, and was called to the bar at Lincoln's Inn.
Margaret Thatcher did not stand from any constituency in the 1955 general elections as she was involved in taking care of her twins, Carol and Mark. She was chosen as the candidate for Finchley in 1958, and became the Member of Parliament in 1959. She polled 29,697 votes, winning more than 50% of the votes in the election.
She won the Finchley constituency seat again in 1964, and 1966, and it was during this period that she came to be known as an exceptional Conservative leader.
She had shown her potential as a future minister and she was rewarded with a Cabinet berth as the Secretary of State for Education and Science, when the Conservative Party came to power in United Kingdom under Edward Heath.
Margaret Thatcher tried a few reforms in the education sector, not all of which were popular. She wanted to cut government spending on schools as a result of which, the system of providing free milk to children aged seven to eleven was abolished. This policy earned her the moniker, "Margaret Thatcher, Milk Snatcher."
Margaret Thatcher became the leader of the Conservative Party on February 11, 1975. She had successfully won two ballots; one against the former Prime Minister Edward Heath (who had made her a Cabinet Minister), and another against Heath's acolyte William Whitelaw.
It is believed that Heath was so dejected by his defeat and the perceived disloyalty of Thatcher to him that he held a grudge against her for the rest of his life.
Margaret Thatcher was the Prime Ministerial candidate of the Tories in the 1979 general elections. The party won the elections, making Thatcher the first woman Prime Minister of United Kingdom. After assuming office, she implemented a slew of economic policies, which were not unanimously accepted by the people of Britain.
Some of the policies that Thatcher implemented were lowering of direct taxes, cut down in government and public spending, privatization of industries, closing down mines, etc.
Margaret Thatcher's first couple of years as Prime Minister made her very unpopular with the British public. The country faced recession and widespread unemployment, and the 1981 riots further added to her unpopularity.
Margaret Thatcher decided to use force against the Argentinian invasion of the Falklands in 1982. Britain won the war, not without the death of 255 servicemen. Her victory over Argentina made her a respected leader among the masses and is believed to have contributed to her re-election as Prime Minister in 1983.
Margaret Thatcher won the general election of 1987 and became the Prime Minister of Britain for a record third time.
Her refusal to join the European Exchange Rate Mechanism made her unpopular within her own party because of which she had to step down from the leadership of the Conservative Party. In 1992, she was made Baroness of Kesteven - a subdivision of the county of Lincolnshire.
After leaving active politics, Thatcher wrote two memoirs, The Downing Street Years (1993) and The Path to Power. She also involved herself in delivering speeches around the world.
Margaret Thatcher's husband Denis Thatcher passed away in 2003. In 2005, it was revealed that Margaret Thatcher was suffering from dementia.
Margaret Thatcher passed away on the morning of 8th April, 2013, after suffering from a stroke. She was living in a hotel from several months as she had difficulty climbing the stairs at her home.

Other Interesting Facts About Margaret Thatcher

➦ Margaret Thatcher was the longest-serving British Prime Minister of the twentieth century.
➦ After becoming the first female British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher visited Japan to participate in an economic summit. Japanese wanted to make Margaret Thatcher comfortable by assigning her female karate guards in place of the usual male guards. Margaret didn't want to be treated any differently and refused the humble offer outrightly.
➦ Margaret Thatcher had bleak hopes of a lady making it big in the British politics. She once remarked, "I don't think there will be a woman prime minister in my lifetime". This was six years before she became the Prime Minister.
➦ Her handbag was her trademark. It is being said that she was rarely seen without it. In fact she once described her handbag as "the only safe place in Downing Street."
➦ Although she could have easily afforded one, Margaret Thatcher did not have a cook and during her years as the Prime Minister of Britain, she regularly cooked for her husband Denis, and other Cabinet guests.
➦ Margaret Thatcher, along with US President Ronald Reagan, were staunch opponents of Soviet Union and Communism. A Soviet captain mocked Margaret Thatcher's feminism in a magazine by calling her 'Iron Lady'. Instead of feeling offended, she took it as a compliment and the name stayed on.
➦ Thatcher took speech lessons from the National Theatre to deepen her voice. She thought her voice lacked authoritativeness.
➦ She survived an assassination attempt by the Irish Republican Army in 1984. She was seemingly undeterred by the incident and didn't soften her stand on the Irish situation. On her tough stand, some Irish activists called her the "the biggest bastard we have ever known."
➦ Margaret Thatcher delivered her most famous speech on the 10th of October 1980 at the Conservative Party Conference. When being advised to make a U-turn on her economic policies, she famously said, "You turn if you want to. The lady's not for turning."
➦ Margaret Thatcher called the African National Congress - a party led by jailed Nelson Mandela in South Africa - a "typical terrorist organization." Mandela later became the first black President of South Africa.
➦ Bob Carr, an Australian senator, accused Margaret Thatcher of being a racist. Carr said during a meeting with Thatcher, after she had retired from active politics, the former Prime Minister told him that "if we (Australia) allowed too much of it (immigration) we'd see the natives of the land, the European settlers, overtaken by migrants."
➦ Margaret Thatcher's son, Sir Mark Thatcher was given a suspended jail sentence after his involvement in a coup plot in Equatorial Guinea. Her daughter Carol Thatcher was suspended by BBC, after it was revealed that she referred to a tennis player as "golliwog."
➦Margaret Thatcher rued the fact that indulgence in politics came at the cost of losing the quality time she could have spent with her family. She reportedly said in 1995, "If I had my time again, I wouldn't go into politics because of what it does to your family."
➦ Margaret Thatcher's life was the subject of the 2011 film, "The Iron Lady." Meryl Streep portrayed the role of Thatcher in the movie and won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance.
➦ Margaret Thatcher's funeral reportedly cost around £10 million ($15 million approx.). Part of it was paid by her estate and part by the British government (read British taxpayer).