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The Life of Margaret Thatcher
On October 13th of the year 1925 Margaret Thatcher was born in Grantham, United Kingdom. Thatcher’s mother and father’s names are Alfred and Beatrice Roberts, her father owned two popular grocery shops in town, one being below the apartment that they lived in. Thatcher’s mother also owned a business as a dressmaker. Thatcher and her older sister Muriel Roberts grew up working in their father’s shops. Her family passionately practiced Methodist religion, and her father was also a well-known pastor in town. Thatcher’s father’s political perspective most likely played a major role in her desire to become the first female British Prime Minister, seeing as though he held multiple positions in the town’s council and then later was elected as the mayor of Grantham from 1945 to 1943. Before Thatcher became Prime Minister, she graduated from Somerville College at Oxford with a degree in chemistry. Thatcher was very family oriented and passionate about her career, she always had a desire to be active in politics and she knew that she was destined for greatness in her career for years to come.
After Thatcher graduated from college she temporarily worked as a research chemist. She later ran for parliament in the constituency at Dartford, however, she lost and ran again a year later. The second time that she ran she lost again, but she acquired 1,000 more votes the second time. For example, in The Path to Power, it states,” The general election came in October 1951. This time I shaved another 1,000 votes off Norman Dodds’ majority and was hugely delighted to discover when all the results were in that the Conservatives now had an overall majority of seventeen.” (Thatcher, The Path to Power 75). Around the same time Thatcher ran for parliament for the second time, she got married to Denis Thatcher. The Thatcher’s got married at Wesley’s Chapel in December, and later moved into an apartment together in London. Thatcher was married young and was deeply in love with her husband, which was not usual at this time. In the book, she states,” But to be a young married woman in those circumstances in the 1950s was very heaven. I am always astonished when people refer to that period as a time of repression, dullness or conformity- the Age of Anxiety, etc.” (Thatcher, The Path to Power 77). Around the time that Thatcher got married was a great time for all people, due to the fact that it took place after the war and everything began to improve from the negative effect that the war had on the people. Although Thatcher got her first degree in chemistry her passion for law remained with her. Thatcher admits that her father played a major role in her desire to one -day study law. One day she and her father mingled with a King’s Counsel and the conversation that they held further increased her desire to study law. For example, it states in the book, “I was captivated by what I saw in court, but I was enthralled by Norman Winning’s conversation about the theory and practice of law.” (Thatcher, The Path to Power 79). Winning gave Thatcher hope of being able to achieve her dream of studying law by telling her that his first degree was not in law, however, he later went back to school to get his second degree in law and suggested that she could do the same. As Thatcher studied for the Bar test, she was told that should not be able to focus on politics and studying law, but eventually, she came to the conclusion that she was not willing to give up either and that she could handle the responsibility that came with both studying law and being involved in politics. In August 1953 she gave birth twins, which made it even harder for her to focus on studying law and being keeping up with politics. She gave birth to a boy and a girl, and their names were Mark and Carol Thatcher. Although Thatcher’s twins were a great surprise and blessing for her family, she never wanted to settle for being a housewife and still wanted to continue her career. For instance, she states, “I was never one of those people who regarded being ‘just’ a mother or indeed ‘just’ a housewife as a second best. Indeed, whenever I heard such implicit assumptions made both before and after I became Prime Minister it would make me very angry indeed […] I knew that I also wanted a career.” (Thatcher, The Path to Power 81). Thatcher strongly believed that it was meant for her to one day have a career and to be involved in politics, she also knew that she would never allow herself to settle for anything less of that.
Before Thatcher became Prime Minister, she was elected to be the Member of Parliament for Finchley in the year of 1959, and later held the position of education secretary of state in the year of 1970. She experienced difficulty with holding the position of secretary of state, seeing as though the current Prime Minister Edward (Ted) Heath did not show any interest or acknowledgement to any of her suggestions of change. In 1975 Thatcher became the first woman to ever become Prime Minister. She conquered Heath and took his position as Conservative Party leader. For example, it states in an article, “When the Conservatives elected her as the leader in 1975, it was not so much because she was a right-wing ideologue, but because she was so obviously not Edward Heath.” (Cannadine, “History in Our Time” 291). When Thatcher became Prime Minister, it gave her much power simply because she was a woman and was elected to take on an important role in a male dominant position. Thatcher even once mentioned before that she believed that she would never be able to see a woman become a Prime Minister in her lifetime, due to the fact that the superior positions in politics were held by men her entire life. Moving her family to No. 10 Downing street was a big adjustment that had to be made for herself and for her family. Although she did not want to leave her old home, there were efficient benefits that came with living in the home that is designed for prime minister’s. Margaret and Denis had a great bond, in fact, she felt as if becoming Prime minister for more than a decade would not have been achievable without the love and support from her husband. She states in The Downing Street Years, “I could never have been Prime Minister for more than eleven years without Denis at my side. Always a powerful personality, he had very definite ideas about what should and should not be done.” (Thatcher, The Down Street Years 22). They shared many of the same interests, which is what led them to fall in love. Denis was also interested in politics but was not as public as Margaret was, however, he was more interested in the military. Although the transition that Thatcher made to become a Prime minister was not easy, she had all of the love and support needed from her family and friends. Deciding upon a Cabinet for the government was one of Thatcher’s first decisions to make as Prime Minister. One memory that Thatcher claims to always remember during her time as Prime Minister is when Britain and Falklands went to war. She states in the reading, “Nothing remains more vividly in my mind, looking back on my years in No. 10, than the eleven weeks in the spring of 1982 when Britain fought and won the Falklands War.” (Thatcher, The Downing Street Years 173). The war broke out because the people of Britain were trying to protect their nation, although the territory in the South Atlantic was important to Britain this was not the only reason for the war. Thatcher claims that the invasion caused by the Argentine was quite random and unexpected at the time. Thatcher mentally prepared for becoming Prime Minister to the best of her ability, however, she was not expecting to one day have to send her troops to war. At the time of the war, Thatcher did not take things too well, it was quite suspenseful, and she was inexperienced as to how to cope with the situation. The victory of this war was very important to the people of Britain, due to the fact that many people were not expecting for Britain to defend their territory and they showed great courage. Thatcher’s intentions for the Falkland Islands was for the people to have free will, she felt as if they deserved that right. It states in the text, “I must tell the House that the Falkland Islands and their dependencies remain a British territory. No aggression and no invasion can alter that simple fact. The people of the Falklands Islands, like the people of the United Kingdom, are an island race …They are few in number, but they have the right to live in peace…” (Thatcher, The Downing Street Years 183). As the war took place, and even after the war was over Thatcher had a hard time dealing with the backlash from the House of the Commons. After the Falklands War, many people appreciated and loved what Thatcher had done in the past years to protect and justify the people of Britain, which is why she was elected to be Prime Minister for a second term in 1982- 1983. After the Falklands War occurred there was a year-long coal strike battle. The strike started due to the fact that coal mining workers were not receiving an adequate amount of money. The National Coal Board informed the people of Britain that they would be closing down multiple mines, and the decision that they made infuriated a lot of people seeing as though mines were the town’s major source of income for many families. For example, the text states, “The coal miners’ strike, which began in March 1984, was exceptionally bitter and protracted, and the government’s victory was far less unequivocal than it had been over the Argentinians.” (Cannadine, “History in Our Time” 293). Thatcher states that at the time of the strike the relationship between the Government and police was on terrible terms. This time was especially tough for miners on strike, seeing as though they were not receiving income for a full year. There was much police surrounding all of the strikers, they were very aggressive with the strikers and had shown no mercy for anyone standing in their way. Thatcher saw getting rid of some of the mines as beneficial because she had a plan to build new and improved industries in town. Her envision was intended to be helpful, however, the people did not see any positive benefits in this idea. The people of Britain were not willing to let go of their source of income, so they rebelled against Thatcher’s idea of closing down the mines. This time was quite eventful for Thatcher, seeing as though she experienced an attempted assassination bombing the same year as the mining strike. Luckily, she was able to escape the building and was not harmed, however, it was still a traumatic experience that she carried with her.
During her third term, she was overthrown by her Conservative Party. At this point in her life, her career was taking a negative turn. Thatcher’s constant new ideas had begun to upset the people of Britain. The Conservative Party was concerned about the negative effect Thatcher was starting to have on the people. Her suggestion of the poll tax is what infuriated the people and caused a lot of ruckuses. In a sense, Thatcher was losing her touch, and more and more people became less interested in her each day. The Conservative Party did not want the people to begin to take out all of their frustration out on the entire party, therefore they felt that the best thing for them to do would be to encourage Thatcher to resign. For example, in the article “The Downfall of Margaret Thatcher” it states, “When Margaret Thatcher dies there might well be engraved on her heart the simple words ‘poll tax’ and ‘Europe.’ For it was the politics of the poll tax and of Europe which caused her fall from power, in an involuntary resignation which, having been brought about entirely by her own party, was unprecedented in modern British constitutional history.” (Brazier, “The Downfall of Margaret Thatcher” 471). It was also revealed that Thatcher was the type of person who practiced black-and-white thinking throughout her career. In “Cognitive Style and Foreign Policy: Margaret Thatcher’s Black-and-White Thinking” it states, “Thatcher’s colleagues and biographers found a tendency toward black-and-white thinking to be one of the foremost characteristics of her leadership.” (Dyson, “Black-and-White Thinking 38). Thatcher used this mechanism as a way to view things clearly and straightforward. After Thatcher resigned from her position as Prime Minister she later suffered from strokes and dementia, which greatly affected her ability to remain active in politics. She also lost her husband as well as her great friend Ronald Reagan around the same time. The end of Thatcher’s career did not necessarily end on a good note, however, she remained grateful for the years that she was able to serve.
Throughout Margaret Thatcher’s life, she had a strong desire to be active in politics, and also made sure to always make her family her top priority as well. Thatcher knew that one day she would be successful, she was destined for greatness. She did not want to live her life as a typical housewife, she wanted more for herself and that is what she worked for. Thatcher was ambitious and dedicated to all things she loved, she was a strong woman. Unfortunately, Margaret Thatcher passed away in April of 2013, she was blessed enough to live a long and successful 87 years. Although Thatcher had her ups and downs during her career, she made history and accomplished many great things that have never been accomplished before.
- Brazier, Rodney. “The Downfall of Margaret Thatcher.” The Modern Law Review, vol. 54, no. 4, 1991, pp. 471-491.
- Cannadine, David. “Margaret Thatcher.” History in Our Time, Yale University Press, New Haven; London, 1998, pp. 288–297.
- Dyson, Stephen Benedict. “Cognitive Style and Foreign Policy: Margaret Thatcher’s Black-and-White Thinking.” International Political Science Review / Revue Internationale De Science Politique, vol. 30, no. 1, 2009, pp. 33–48.
- Thatcher Margaret. The Path to Power. Harper Collins, 1995.
- Thatcher, Margaret. The Downing Street Years. Harper Collins, 1993.
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