Great Britain in mourning – who was Margaret Thatcher?

Joanna Górska

Margaret Thatcher was Britain’s first female prime minister and served three consecutive terms in office. She was one of the dominant political figures of 20th century Britain, and Thatcherism continues to have a huge influence.

Margaret Hilda Roberts was born on 13 October 1925 in Grantham, Lincolnshire. She was daughter of a grocer. She studied Oxford University and then became a research chemist, retraining to become a barrister in 1954. In 1951, she married Denis Thatcher, a wealthy businessman, with whom she had two children.

Within 11 years of rule, from 1979 to 1990, Margaret Thatcher had a huge impact on both the UK and around the world. She had steadfast belief that its duty is to directtion the country towards radical change. Above all her wanted to reverse the effects of what she considered the fall of her country: UK back in the direction of socialism. Since her depart from office took more than twenty years, but Thatcher remains the dominant figure of British politics, which – irrespective of how to evaluate it – irreversibly changed the country.

In the 1980’s, the Conservative government embarked on a series of reforms to make each individual less reliant on the state. Privatisation and deregulation were the order of the day as was taking on those who wanted Britain to become more involved in what is now the European Union. Thatcher believed in the ‘economy of the house wife’ and the resulting government cuts in services led to high unemployment, especially in areas most associated with heavy industry and classic Labour strongholds. The country seemingly became divided into those who agreed and supported ‘Thatcherism’ and those who did not. There were few in the middle ground. The clash with the miners was seen by many as simply being an attack on the power of trade unions while those in the City of London, who made their fortunes out of privatisation, were the success story of the Thatcher years in office.

In November 1990, Thatcher’s Foreign Secretary, Sir Geoffrey Howe, resigned from the Cabinet over her attitude to Europe and his resignation speech in the House of Commons set in motion a train of events that saw the party turn against her. The ‘Iron Lady’ was 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




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