Monday, 8 April 2013

Life of a Legend: the Iron Lady

"Being powerful is like being a lady: if you have to tell people you are, you aren't." - Margaret Thatcher

There are three types of people in the world: people who are for Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness, LG OM PC FRS; people who are against her; and people who are on the fence regarding their opinion of the Iron Lady. Be that as it may, one thing we can all be sure of is that she was a legend whom the world will remember for many years to come.

"Defeat? I do not recognise the meaning of the word."   

          Thatcher was the longest serving British Prime Minister during the 20th century as well as the first and only female to have held office. A Soviet journalist presented her with the nickname "Iron Lady" because of "her uncompromising policies and leadership style."  In fact, Thatcher's time in office was so ground-breaking that her conviction politics, economic and social policies, and political style became commonly known as "Thatcherism."     

"I love argument. I love debate. I don't expect anyone just to sit there and agree with me - that's not their job." 

Despite the ongoing world recession in 1981, Thatcher and Chancellor Geoffrey Howe managed to raise taxes and cut government spending, therefore allowing cuts in interest rates. Economic revival began soon after this. In 1982 Thatcher led Britain to military success regarding Argentina's invasion of Falkland Islands. The Iron Lady continued her winning streak in 1983 due to her re-election in the landslide election.

Margaret Roberts was born on October 13th, 1925 in Grantham, Lincolnshire. Her father was a shopkeeper who also happened to be active in local politics. Because of this, Margaret was exposed to the world of politics from a very young age. She went on to study chemistry, then law, at Oxford during the years 1944-1950. Margaret helped develop the first soft frozen ice cream during her time as a research chemist. During the years 1950-1951, Margaret ran as Conservative candidate for safe Labour seat of Dartford twice (both attempts were unsuccessful) and married businessman Denis Thatcher.    

"Any woman who understands the problems of running a home will be nearer to understanding the problems of running a country."         

After investing much time into her studies, Thatcher finally qualified as a barrister during 1953, the same year her twins, Mark and Carol, were born. Margaret entered parliament as an MP for Finchley in 1959 and was promoted to front bench as parliamentary under-secretary in Harold Macmillan's administration in October 1961. In 1964 Thatcher became the shadow minister in opposition and then in 1970 she took on the post of Education Secretary in government of Edward Heath. Margaret's decision to abolish free milk in schools resulted in the nickname"Maggie Thatcher, milk snatcher." 

"Disciplining yourself to do what you know is right and important, although difficult, is the high road to pride, self-esteem, and personal satisfaction." 

In 1975 Thatcher successfully challenged Heath for Conservative leadership. Unfortunately, this was at the cost of their relationship: Heath never forgave "that woman."

"I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding because I think, well, if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left."                      

In 1979, the British government was being tormented by trade unions' many demands and strikes. This was a big contribution to the Labour party losing the general election. On May 3rd, 1979, Margaret Hilda Thatcher became the first female Prime Minister Great Britain has seen.

"What is success? I think it is a mixture of having a flair for the thing that you are doing; knowing that it is not enough, that you have got to have hard work and a certain sense of purpose."

In march 1984, a national miners' strike commenced under the direction of Arthur Scargill (NUM leader), in protest to the closing of uncompetitive mines. National news was swamped with broadcasts of riots and miners' strikes as Britain crept closer and closer to unbridled chaos. The government finally managed to resume forming its legislation restricting trade union strikes, after a year of ongoing strikes.

"I am extraordinarily patient, provided I get my own way in the end." 

In October 1984 an IRA bomb directed at Thatcher exploded during the Conservative party conference at the Grand Hotel in Brighton. Five people (including Conservative MP Sir Anthony Berry) were killed as a result of the bomb. Thatcher, however, came away unscathed. On June 11th 1987, Thatcher won the general election for the third time. In April 1990, she introduced the extremely unpopular "poll tax." In fact, it was so unpopular that it soon led to riots. In November 1990, a distressed and tearful Thatcher departed from Downing Street having lost the support of the party over differences on European Economic Community policy and the poll tax conundrum. She resigned as Prime Minister and party leader soon after this event. 

"You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it." 

 On June 30th 1992, Margaret Thatcher took her seat in the House of Lords as Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven.  During March 2002, doctors advise Thatcher to give up making public speeches for the good of her health, as by this point, she had suffered a series of strokes.

"To wear your heart on your sleeve isn't a very good plan; you should wear it inside, where it functions best." 
Later in 2002 (July), Thatcher published a book on international relations. It covers many topics, even rather controversial subjects, such as whether or not the UK should leave the EU and join Nafta. In June 2003, Thatcher's husband, Denis, passed away at the age of 88 years and after 52 years of marriage.

"I usually make up my mind about a man in ten seconds, and I very rarely change it."

On October 13th, 2005, Thatcher celebrated her 80th birthday in a Hyde Park hotel. There were many high profile guests in attendance, such as Prince William and the Queen. In September 2007, Thatcher was invited back to visit 10 Downing Street by Gordon Brown and in January 2008, David Cameron presented Thatcher with a lifetime achievement award at a Great Britons award ceremony. Thatcher returned to Downing Street in November 2009 for the unveiling of an official portrait. In June 2010, David Cameron, the first Conservative Prime Minister in 13 years (since the Iron Lady herself), invited his predecessor to 10 Downing Street for a private meeting. In November 2010, Thatcher was named the world's most influential woman in a YouGov/AOL poll.

"I've got a woman's ability to stick to a job and get on with it when everyone else walks off and leaves it."
Thatcher was unable to attend Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding (although she was invited) in April 2011 due to health issues. 
"There is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families." 

On January 6th, 2012, the film The Iron Lady was released, starring Meryl Streep as Thatcher. It prompted a lot of media coverage about Thatcher's time in office.

"It is not the creation of wealth that is wrong, but the love of money for its own sake."    

Baroness Thatcher's passing was announced on April 8th, 2013, at the age of 87 years.

"To those waiting with bated breath for that favourite media catchphrase, the U-turn, I have only one thing to say. You turn if you want to. The lady's not for turning."


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