Margaret Thatcher (1925- 2013)

She was born on October 13, 1925 in Grantham, England; she studied Chemistry and Law at Oxford University where she was a conservative activist.

She had been head girl in secondary school in 1942-1943.

She assumed leadership of Tory Party in 1975 and was given a life peerage after she left office, becoming Baroness Thatcher. Her late husband, Dennis Thatcher, was an important part of her success in politics and within the conservative movement.

Margaret Hilda Thatcher (nee Roberts) became the prime minster of Great Britain on May 4, 1979 and left office on November 28, 1990. She died on April 8, 2013.

She was the first and so far only female political leader of the United Kingdom, and irrespective of what you thought about her, after Thatcher, any doubts about the ability of females to lead became a nonsensical proposition!

Before she became prime minister, Thatcher had already acquired a tough image, known as “the milk snatcher” for her role as the secretary of state for education and science who implemented a policy of abolishing free milk for school children aged 7-11.

Cabinet papers reportedly later showed, however, that she actually opposed the policy, but was forced into it by the Treasury, one indicator perhaps that much of her public image was erroneous. A Soviet defense ministry newspaper Krasnaya Zvezda (Red Star) called her “iron lady”, an appellation that stuck!

Thatcher’s ear as British prime minister redefined many aspects of global thinking about micro-economic policy and management, development, privatization and public-private partnerships, deregulation and liberalization, regulation, financial markets and labor market flexibility.

The Britain that Thatcher inherited in 1979 was essentially almost ungovernable- powerful and often irrational unions; a damaging series of strikes; incompetent and inefficient state-owned utilities and corporations; racial tension; and country that, in the views of many, was sliding towards conditions seen in third world nations requiring IMF support.

Margaret Thatcher formed a strong cold war alliance with the US Republicans led by her conservative soul mate, Ronald Reagan, and together they confronted communism, ultimately ensuring the collapse of communism and the victory of western-style democracy and free market systems.

The greatest error attributed to Thatcher was her perceived tolerance and even support for the apartheid in South Africa and her opposition to the African National Congress (ANC) and its leader, Nelson Madela, whom she branded terrorists.

She became a member of parliament for Finchley in October 1959 and stayed on in parliament for two years after she left the prime ministerial office till April 1992.

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