Lady Thatcher Biography

PHOTO: Lady Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher was the grocer's daughter who went on to become Britain's first female prime minister.

Margaret Thatcher was the daughter of a businessman and mayor of Grantham, educated at the local grammar school and at Oxford, where she obtained a degree in chemistry and was president of the Conservative Association.

Upon graduation Margaret worked for four years as a research chemist. She then qualified as a barrister, specialising in taxation law, in 1954.

As Miss Margaret Roberts, she stood twice in parliamentary elections for the Conservative Party, before being elected (after her marriage to Denis Thatcher) to the House of Commons, in 1959 as Member for Finchley.

Mrs Thatcher's first ministerial appointment came in 1961, and she quickly became a front-bench spokesman for her party and member of the Shadow Cabinet.

When the Conservatives were returned to office in June 1970, she was appointed secretary of state for education and science, becoming famous as "Thatcher, Thatcher, milk snatcher" after her abolition of the universal free school milk scheme.

After the Conservatives lost power in 1974, she was appointed to the Shadow Cabinet and was elected leader of the Conservative Party in 1975.

In May 1979 she became Britain's first female prime minister, after the Conservatives regained power from Labour.

In power she was best known for her destruction of Britain’s traditional industries, through her attacks on labour organisations such as the miner’s union and for the massive privatisation of social housing and public transport. Mrs Thatcher was also famous for her right-wing, pro-corporate alliance with US President Regan.

In 1982 Mrs Thatcher and her government took the UK to war with Argentina over the invasion of the Falkland Islands. The British victory that followed has been cited as a contributory factor to the Conservatives gaining a second term in government in the 1983 general election.

She resigned on 28 November 1990, after her disastrous attempt to implement a fixed rate local tax (Poll Tax) and to disenfranchise those who did not pay it. This led to huge popular protest, and disapproval from within her party.

In 1992, she was appointed to the House of Lords, as Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven.

After leaving government she was occupied by writing and lucrative speaking engagements. Most recently her increasingly poor health and memory loss meant that she was forced to withdraw from public life.

In 2011 Meryl Streep starred as Lady Thatcher in the movie The Iron Lady, a role for which she won an Academy Award.

Lady Thatcher died peacefully in her sleep aged 87, following a stroke, on 8 April 2013.

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