Megan Laura Casey Taylor (born May 23, 1933) is an English politician and actress who served as Prime Minister of England from 1990 to 2001, and Leader of the National Party from 1988 to 2001. Taylor's over 11 year tenure makes her the longest serving Prime Minister in English history.
Originally an actress she had a noted career on stage and screen before entering politics in 1975. She served as Minister for the Arts and Minister without Portfolio in the Harding government. In 1988 she ousted Rodney Bowles to become Leader of the National Party, the first woman to lead an English political party. She took the party in a more right wing, free market orientated direction. She became Prime Minister after winning a landslide victory in the 1990 general election.
As Prime Minister she pursued a radical free market agenda, privatising numerous state-owned companies, advocating lower tax rates and introducing an internal market into health and education. She led the National Party to further election victories in 1993, 1996 and 1999.
She also played a leading role in furthering european integration, being nicknamed the "Mother of Europe" by several newspapers, although she was insistant that England should keep the Pound rather than adopt a single european currency.
As her premiership continued she became more presidential in her style of government, alienating her cabinet colleagues. In 2001 she was challenged for the leadership of the National Party by former Home Secretary Andrew Williams, although winning she was decisively weakened and when challenged again four months later she was narrowly defeated. She resigned from parliament shortly after her leaving office as Prime Minister.
In retirement she remains active in politics, as a political commentator. In 2005 she released her autobiography Passion for Politics.
Megan Davenport was born on May 23, 1933 in Kensington, London. Her father, David (1902-1967) was a theatre producer, whilst her mother Diane (1907-1986) was an actress.
Early Political Career
Taylor first became active within politics during the 1969 general election, where she presented one of the primary National Party election broadcasts.
In 1975 she was elected MP for the safe National Party seat of Chelsea.
Member of Parliament
The National Party under Eric Harding won the 1977 general election, and Taylor was appointed to the cabinet as Employment Secretary. Taylor was a strident opponent of the trade union movement, and privately lobbied Harding to reform the unions, requiring 50% of all members of a union to vote in favour of a strike in order to make in valid.
She was a strong supporter of the tough 1979 budget
Eric Harding resigned as party leader immediately following the 1982 election. Alexander Sykes and Martin Osbourne contested the leadership.
Taylor became the de facto leader of the right wing faction of the National Party, espousing economically liberal views.
Taylor became leader of the National Party on January 26, 1988.
First Term 1990-1993
The 1990 emergency budget was popularly dubbed "the Mother of all budgets", and saw major cuts in public expenditure. The budget was controversial within the government, and several junior ministers resigned in protest.
The National Party was re-elected at the 1993 election, although with a substantially reduced majority.
Second Term 1993-1996
The recession of 1994-5 hit England hard, and unemployment rose to above 2 million.
By the autumn of 1995 England returned to recovery. The economic recovery allowed the government to present a balanced budget, as well as significant tax cuts, in the 1996 budget, and was a major factor in the government's re-election in the 1996 general election.
Third Term 1996-1999
The second half of the parliament saw speculation in the press that Taylor would retire. In 1998 she turned 65
The 1998 summer olympics were held in London.
Fourth Term 1999-2001
Taylor successfully led the National Party to a fourth successive election victory in 1999, albeit with a reduced majority. During her final term tensions increased between Taylor and her cabinet members, following the election she reshuffled her cabinet, dropping older and more experienced cabinet members in favour of younger more expressly Taylorite ministers.
Taylor retired as MP for Chelsea at the 2002 general election.
In 2008 she was made Honorary President of the National Party.
Megan Davenport married James Taylor on the June 15th 1961. They have three children Helena (born 1962), Philip (born 1965) and Jessica (born 1968).