Margaret Hilda Roberts Thatcher (1925–2013) or Margaret Thatcher was the first female prime minister of the United Kingdom. She served as the prime minister from 1979 to 1900 and was part of the Conservative Party. She is the only prime minister who won three consecutive terms in the 20th century. Significant acts and legacies during her time in office include the privatization of particular industries, reduction of trade union influence, and the evolution of the British economy to liberalism.

Early life, education, and family

Margaret Hilda Roberts was born on 13 October 1925 in Grantham, a town in Lincolnshire, England. She was the daughter of middle-class shopkeepers and Methodists, Alfred and Beatrice. They had a tobacco and grocery shop. Her father also served as a politician for 16 years as a town council member before becoming the town mayor from 1945 to 1946.

As a young child, Margaret attended the Huntingtower Road Primary School until she received a scholarship from a grammar school called Kesteven and Grantham Girls’ School. During her early education, she showed improvement in her academics while doing and participating in different extracurricular activities. Some of the activities include field hockey, poetry recitals, piano, and swimming.

By 1943, she entered Oxford. She took a second-class degree in chemistry with a specialisation in X-ray crystallography. For this degree, she was under the supervision of Dorothy Hodgkin, a Nobel Prize-winning chemist. Margaret graduate in 1947 and continued to study until she received a degree of Master of Arts in 1950.

In 1951, Margaret married wealthy businessman Denis Thatcher. By 15 August 1953, their children were born, Mark and Carol. During this time, Margaret was preparing for the bar exams which she passed in 1954. From that point, she practised law.

Political life

In the 1950 and 1951 general elections, Margaret was the Conservative Party’s candidate for Dartford’s labour seat. According to accounts, the local party leaders chose her at the time because she was fearless and well-prepared. However, she lost in those two general elections. The same occurred when she again ran in the 1954 general elections.

However, she joined the Parliament in the 1959 election. In her maiden speech, she supported the bill that required local government officials to hold council meetings in public. Likewise, she pointed out in the speech the necessity of limiting wasteful state expenditures. In 1961, she contradicted her own party, the Conservative Party, by voting for the restoration of birching. In the same year, she became the parliamentary undersecretary of the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance.

By 1970, Margaret Thatcher became the secretary of state for education and science. This role made her focus on the schools, colleges, and research in Britain. One of her notable acts as the Education Secretary was the elimination of the free milk program for schoolchildren.

On 11 February 1975, Thatcher became the leader of the Conservative Party and the Opposition. She had the support of the Conservative right-wing and defeated former Prime Minister Edward Heath for party leadership. In this role, she attended meetings with the Institute of Economic Affairs that proposed lower taxes and more liberties for consumers and businesses. She also promoted neoliberal economic ideas locally and internationally.

In the 1979 elections, the Conservatives won which made Thatcher the prime mister on 4 May of the same year. In some accounts and media outlets, her time as the British prime minister meant she became the most powerful woman in the world.

In her first term, the British government lowered the direct taxes and increased taxes on spending. Thatcher’s government also made austerity measures and reforms. However, unemployment and inflation increased affecting her popularity to decrease. However, inflation decreased before the end of her first term. Though unemployment continued and increased to an extent, the economy during her first improved. This improvement helped Thatcher win her second term in 1983.

In her second term, Thatcher focused on trade unions by requiring secret ballots before any stoppage in their work. Likewise, she led the privatization of different industries from British Gas, British Airways, and British Telecom to Rolls-Royce. However, this privatization program meant the loss of direct government control. As a response, Thatcher’s government founded regulatory bodies.

In her third term, Thatcher, reelected in 1987, lowered income tax rates. She also had a hostile attitude towards European integration. She believed the European region should be more aligned with free trade. However, her third term led to her downfall. It was apparent with the poll tax or community charge implementation in 1989. This choice and program led to street protests and high numbers of non-payment from the people. There was discontent which led to her defeat on 14 November 1990 and ended her role as prime minister.

Even with the defeat, Thatcher remained in the parliament until 1992 when she returned to the House of Commons. After her retirement, she received the life peerage or title of Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven. This title led to her sitting in the House of Lords.

Later life

After retiring from the Commons in 1992, Thatcher had various activities and roles. She wrote her memoirs, founded a foundation, and became a geopolitical consultant among others. She also did not stop in sharing her views and advocacies for the independence of Croatia and Slovenia, the release of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, aggressive action of the U.S. towards Iraq, and the rejection of the founding treaty of the European Union.

However, she began to speak less in public in 2002 because of the small strokes she experienced. The next year, her husband passed away on 26 June at the age of 88. By 2005, she was diagnosed with dementia. She also experienced injuries such as a broken arm when she fell in 2009. In 2010, she attended her last sitting in the House of Lords. The next year, her office in the House of Lords was closed. She died on 8 April 2013 due to a stroke.

 

About Wickwar

Founded in 1773 , by Joseph & William Wickwar , Wickwar started as a luxury paper mill outside Newbury . In 1786 HMSO was founded and Joseph Wickwar won the contract to supply paper to Parliament .

In 1788 Joseph partnered with Joseph Bramah to produce luxury Despatch boxes for Royalty & Government and went on to produce in excess of 5,000 boxes and became the premier supplier of the Iconic red box .

The simple design of the famous Gladstone Box continues today & Wickwar manufacturers around 100 boxes per year using traditional skills & tools from its workshop in London .