Published on April 10th, 2013 |
by Anna Welsh
Image © quixotic54 2008
Margaret Thatcher: 1925-2013
Margaret Thatcher, the first female Prime Minister of Great Britain has died aged 87. Born Margaret Hilda Roberts in Grantham, Lincolnshire, she would grow up to be the longest serving Prime Minister of the 20th century.
Margaret Thatcher’s interest in politics came from her father, Alfred Roberts who was heavily involved in the local council. In 1959, Margaret Thatcher became Member of Parliament for Finchley. In 1970, Prime Minister Edward Heath appointed her as Secretary of State for Education and Science. In 1975, Margaret Thatcher was voted as the leader of the Conservative party.
The iron lady, as she would become known, won the 1979 general election by a landslide and became Prime Minister of Great Britain on 4th May 1979. When entering her new residence as Prime Minister, she famously quoted the prayer of St. Frances Along with the Conservative party, Margaret Thatcher would win another two general elections. Throughout her eleven years in 10 Downing Street, Great Britain went through many changes. The Miner’s strike, riots, the IRA and her resignation in November 1990.
Throughout her reign, the United Kingdom was terrorised by the IRA. Margaret Thatcher and her cabinet were targeted by the IRA at the Conservative party conference in Brighton on 12th October 1984. The Grand Hotel was the victim of a time bomb which claimed the lives of five people. Margaret Thatcher carried on with the conference despite the tragedy and showed defiance in the face of the terrorists, showing the nation why she was known as the iron lady. Years earlier in 1979, Airey Neave, a fellow Conservative was killed as a bomb planted in his car exploded as he was driving out of the Palace of Westminster car park.
In 1982, Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands and Margaret Thatcher dispatched the British military to gain control of the islands. After 74 days, Argentina surrendered which gave Great Britain control of the islands once again. Hundreds of soldiers lost their lives during the battle and they will never be forgotten. In some people’s opinions, this victory helped secure the next election.
Margaret Thatcher also contended with the Miner’s strike, which occurred after the announcement that coal mines were to be closed resulting in the loss of thousands of jobs. Margaret Thatcher’s attitude towards the miner’s strike established her as a figure of hatred for left-wingers and unions and some people view that she was responsible for tearing apart communities. Margaret Thatcher’s iron strength again paid off and the strike ended in March 1985.
Discontent within the conservative party arose in the late eighties mainly due to the fact that the party was trailing behind labour in the polls. The discontent was fuelled by the resignation of Geoffrey Howe, one of the original cabinet members from the 1979 general election win. The party began showing support for Michael Heseltine to become leader. Margaret Thatcher felt that the party had betrayed her. Shortly afterwards, John Major became Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative party, claiming another victory for the Conservatives in 1992.
Presently, comparisons have been made between the reign of Margaret Thatcher and the reign of David Cameron. Austerity is again in the air and George Osborne’s 2013 budget shadowed Margaret Thatcher’s economic ideology in many people’s eyes.
Within the Conservative party today, Margaret Thatcher is often seen as an icon. It is not hard to see why, especially in the challenging times we are in, knowing how she coped when Great Britain faced similar challenges thirty years ago and that she had strong leadership skills.
Margaret Thatcher was a tough, controversial Prime Minister, ultimately unique with a will of iron. Leaders like that only occur once in a lifetime.
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