Margaret Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher, was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990 and the Conservative Party’s Leader from 1975 to 1990. She was born on October 13, 1925, and died on April 8, 2013. She was the first woman to serve as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in the twentieth century. Her hardline politics and leadership style earned her the nickname “Iron Lady” from a Soviet journalist. She enacted policies that became known as Thatcherism while serving as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
Before becoming a barrister, Thatcher studied chemistry at Oxford’s Somerville College and worked as a research chemist. In 1959, she was elected to Parliament as a member of the Finchley constituency. In the 1970–1974 government of Edward Heath, she was named Secretary of State for Education and Science. She became the first woman to lead a major political party in the United Kingdom when she defeated Heath in a leadership contest for the Conservative Party in 1975.
In 1987, Thatcher was re-elected by a landslide for a third term, but her support for the Community Charge (“poll tax”) was generally unpopular, and her increasingly Eurosceptic views on the European Community were not shared by others in her cabinet. After a challenge to her leadership was initiated, she resigned as Prime Minister and Party Leader in 1990. She was given a life peerage as Baroness Thatcher (of Kesteven in the County of Lincolnshire) after retiring from the House of Commons in 1992, which allowed her to sit in the House of Lords. At the age of 87, she died in London’s Ritz Hotel of a stroke.
Thatcherism was a systematic and definitive reversal of the postwar consensus, in which the major political parties essentially agreed on Keynesianism’s fundamental themes of the welfare state, nationalised industry, tight economic regulation, and high taxes. Thatcher was a supporter of the welfare state in principle, although he advocated for reforms to eliminate abuses.