Margaret Thatcher was Britain’s Prime Minister at the time of the Falklands War. It was Margaret Thatcher who ordered the Task Force to reclaim the Falklands and to many in Britain, she epitomised the so-called ‘Falklands Spirit’.
Margaret Thatcher (née Roberts) was born on October 13th, 1925 in Grantham, Lincolnshire. She was educated at her local grammar school, Grantham Girls’ High School, and went to Somerville College, Oxford University to study Chemistry. While at Oxford University, Thatcher became president of the university’s Conservative Association.
In 1959, Margaret Thatcher was elected to the House of Commons as Member of Parliament for Finchley. She held a number of junior posts before being appointed Education Secretary in 1970 by Prime Minister Edward Heath. While in this post, Thatcher ended free milk to schools and was given the nickname “Thatcher the Milk Snatcher” by those who opposed the move.
In February 1975, she stood against Edward Heath in an election for the leadership of the Conservative Party and won.
In 1979, against a heavily divided Labour Party, Thatcher led her party to the first of three election victories (also in 1983 and 1987). Her time as Prime Minister coincided with a time when her main political opponent, the Labour Party, was spilt over policies. Her leadership during the Falklands War in 1982 did much to rally the country behind her.
In the 1980’s, the Conservative government embarked on a series of reforms to make each individual less reliant on the state. Privatisation and deregulation were the order of the day as was taking on those who wanted Britain to become more involved in what is now the European Union. Thatcher believed in the ‘economy of the house wife’ and the resulting government cuts in services led to high unemployment, especially in areas most associated with heavy industry and classic Labour strongholds. The country seemingly became divided into those who agreed and supported ‘Thatcherism’ and those who did not. There were few in the middle ground. The clash with the miners was seen by many as simply being an attack on the power of trade unions while those in the City of London, who made their fortunes out of privatisation, were the success story of the Thatcher years in office.
In November 1990, Thatcher’s Foreign Secretary, Sir Geoffrey Howe, resigned from the Cabinet over her attitude to Europe and his resignation speech in the House of Commons set in motion a train of events that saw the party turn against her.
Michael Heseltine stood against her for party leader. Heseltine did not win the contest but he polled 152 seats – a sizeable number that clearly showed that Margaret Thatcher was no longer held in total esteem by all the party; she polled 204 votes. She was persuaded not to stand in the second ballot for party leader and her position was taken by John Major.
Margaret Thatcher left the House of Commons in 1992. She remained a formidable figure within the Conservative Party and the highlight at party conferences for a number of years after her resignation was her speech to the party or her simply appearing on the platform. Now in the House of Lords, Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven left her mark on the 1980’s like few other politicians have ever done. The ‘Iron Lady’ was Prime Minister for 11 years and 209 days – a figure not likely to be broken in future years. In 1995, she became the first non-royal Lady Companion of the Order of the Garter.