Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Thatcher in 1975
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
In office
May 4 1979 – October 13 1984
Monarch Elizabeth II
Deputy   William Whitelaw
Preceded by James Callaghan
Succeeded by William Whitelaw (Caretaker)
Leader of the Opposition
In office
February 11 1975 – May 4 1979
Monarch Elizabeth II
Prime Minister Harold Wilson
James Callaghan
Preceded by Edward Heath
Succeeded by James Callaghan
Leader of the Conservative Party
In office
February 11 1975 – October 13 1984
Preceded by Edward Heath
Succeeded by Michael Heseltine
Shadow Environment Secretary
In office
March 5 1974 – February 11 1975
Leader Edward Heath
Preceded by Anthony Crosland
Succeeded by Timothy Raison
Education and Science Secretary
In office
June 20 1970 – March 4 1974
Preceded by Edward Short
Succeeded by Reginald Prentice
Member of Parliament for Finchley
In office
October 8 1959 – October 13 1984
Monarch Elizabeth II
Preceded by John Crowder
Succeeded by  Judith Warner
Personal details
Born October 13 1925
Flag of the United Kingdom Grantham, United Kingdom
Died October 13 1984
Flag of the United Kingdom Brighton, United Kingdom
Nationality Flag of the United Kingdom British
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Denis Thatcher (m. 1951-1984)
Children Carol Thatcher
Mark Thatcher
Alma mater Oxford University
Inns of Court
Profession Politician
Religion Methodist (1925-1951)
Church of England (1951-1984)

Margaret Thatcher was a British politician, who was Prime Minister from 1979 to 1984. She was the first female leader of a political party and Prime Minister, and the first since Lord Palmerston to die in office, having died in the Brighton hotel bombing. She was first elected to parliament in the 1959 election, been a research chemist and a lawyer in her early life.

Early life

Margaret Thatcher was born on October 13 1925 in Grantham, as Margaret Roberts. Her father, Alfred Roberts, owned a grocery shop and had a seat in the Grantham council as an independent. She attended Huntingtower Road Primary School and Kesteven and Grantham Girls' School through a scholarship. In 1943 she applied to Oxford University to study chemistry, but was rejected. She was later given a place after another applicant withdrew. Roberts graduated in 1947 and got a job at BX Plastics in Colchester as a research chemist. The following year, she unsuccessfully applied for a job at Imperial Chemical Industries. She joined the local Conservative Association and attended the party conference in 1948. She moved to Dartford in preparation for the 1950 election and got a job at J Lyons and Co in London.

Early political career

In 1950 and 1951 elections Roberts was selected as the Conservative candidate for the Dartford constituency. Although she lost both times to the Labour candidate, Norman Dodds, she attracted attention from the media as the youngest and only female candidate. She qualified as a Laywer in 1953.

Member of Parliament

Thatcher did not stand in the 1955 election due to it being soon after the birth of her children, but was selected as the Conservative candidate for Finchley in the 1959 election, which she went on to win. She entered the frontbenches in 1961 with the office of Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Pensions, becoming the first MP elected in 1959 to be promoted. After the Conservatives lost the 1966 election, Senior shadow cabinet ministers proposed her as a potential minister. Whilst this position was eventually taken by Mervyn Pike, after her retirement Thatcher was promoted to Shadow Transport and later Shadow Education and Science spokesman.

Education Secretary

Thatcher was given the office of Education and Science Secretary in 1970 following the Conservative victory. She became controversial as she tried to reduce the department's budget. One of the cuts was free milk to Primary School students, although official papers suggest that she was persuaded into this decision by the treasury. There were calls to replace Grammar Schools with Comprehensive Schools, although she had tried to preserve them most proposals were accepted. The number pupils attending Comprehensive Schools were increased as a result from 32% to 62%.

Leader of the Opposition

The Conservatives lost the February 1974 election, but Labour were short of a majority and a coalition government was formed. Labour won a narrow majority in a second election in October that year. Conservative leader Edward Heath's leadership was becoming doubtful and he called a leadership election in 1975, of which Thatcher won. She remained very critical of Labour and won support with dissatisfied voters. A Soviet Union embassy nicknamed her the Iron Lady but despite it being intended as an insult, Thatcher adopted the nickname gladly and it was soon used by others to describe her style of leadership. The Conservative party's opinion polls had dropped in 1978 and she accused the Prime Minister James Callaghan and Labour of being "chickens" for not calling a snap election. Fortunes did turn in the Conservative party's favour following a series of strikes during the harsh winter of 1978 (nicknamed the Winter of Discontent and she successfully passed a no confidence vote against the cabinet in early 1979 to trigger a general election, which the Conservatives won.

Prime Minister

Thatcher became Prime Minister on May 4 1979, and sharply applied right-wing ideals. Her monetarist economic policies were heavily influenced by economists such as Milton Friedman. She and Chancellor Geoffrey Howe begun tax reform, replacing direct with indirect tax, and increased the interest rates to lower inflation. The power of trade unions was limited and industries were deregulated or privatised, undoing nationalisation by Labour in the 1960s. Being Euroskeptic, she declined to join the European Exchange Mechanism and preferred closer relations with the USA, her friendship with President Reagan attracted significant attention with the media. Another boost of popularity occurred in 1982 after victory in the Falkland Islands, leading to a second Conservative victory in the 1983 election with an increased majority. However, she was a hated figure amongst some of the public because of her policies and as a result there were large confrontations against the government, such as riots and hostile strikes.


Margaret Thatcher arrived at the Grand hotel in Brighton on October 11 1984 as the annual party conference was due the next day. Due to this, a member of the IRA had placed a time bomb inside the hotel with the intention to assassinate Margaret Thatcher and her cabinet. The bomb exploded at 2:54 AM on October 12, killing 5 people and injuring 30. Margaret Thatcher was reported to have been injured by the blast and was rushed to hospital. Deputy Prime Minister William Whitelaw made an eleventh hour decision to suspend the conference in an interview with the BBC until Thatcher recovered, however she died in the early hours of October 13. She was given a state funeral on October 27 in which notable government figures attended including Queen Elizabeth II, for whom it had been the second funeral of a Prime Minister during her reign, the first being Winston Churchill.


Long after her death, Thatcher's ideals lived on in British politics, especially within the Conservative party..

Personal life

Margaret Thatcher married a businessman Denis Thatcher in 1951, and had two twin children, Carol and Mark.