Thatcher, Margaret

Margaret Hilda Thatcher

b. 13 Oct 1925, Grantham, Lincolnshire [1]
d. 8 Apr 2013, London

Title: Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury [2]
Term: 4 May 1979 - 28 Nov 1990
Chronology: 4 May 1979, invited to form an Administration and accepted the offer to hold the post of Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury, audience of the Queen, Buckingham Palace, London [3][4]
5 May 1979, took the oath of office as First Lord of the Treasury and Minister for the Civil Service before the Queen in Council, Buckingham Palace, London [5]
28 Nov 1990, tendered resignation as Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury (accepted), audience of the Queen, Buckingham Palace, London [6]
Names/titles: Original name: Margaret Hilda Roberts (baptized 28 Dec 1925, Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, Grantham); surname changed to Thatcher on her marriage (13 Dec 1951);
  Baroness Thatcher, of Kesteven in the County of Lincolnshire (from 26 Jun 1992, life peerage) [7]
Biography:
Daughter of a grocery retailer who served as Alderman and Mayor of Grantham (1945-1946); attended Huntingtower Elementary School, Grantham (1930-1936) and Kesteven and Grantham Girls' School, Grantham (1936-1943); was educated in Somerville College, Oxford (1943-1947), reading chemistry; keenly interested in politics, she was active in the Oxford University Conservative Association, serving as its president in 1946; graduated with a Bachelor of Science (1949) and Master of Arts (1950); worked as a research chemist for British Xylonite Co. at Manningtree, Essex (1947-1949), and then for J. Lyons & Co. in London (1949-1951); unsuccessfully contested Dartford at the General Election in 1950 and 1951; was a personal assistant to Director of the Joint Iron Council (1951); married wealthy businessman Denis Thatcher (13 Dec 1951) and began law studies, specializing in taxation law; having qualified as a lawyer (1953), she was called to the Bar at Lincoln's Inn (1954); worked as a tax lawyer; was elected Conservative MP for Finchley (1959-1992); took up her first government post as Joint Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance (9 Oct 1961 - 21 Oct 1964); held a succession of front-bench posts while the Conservatives were in opposition (1964-1970), including a job as Conservative spokesperson on housing and land; became a member of the Shadow Cabinet (10 Oct 1967) as shadow Minister of Power; was moved to the position of shadow Minister of Transport (announcement made 14 Nov 1968) and then to the position of shadow Secretary of State for Education and Science (Oct 1969); was appointed Secretary of State for Education and Science (22 Jun 1970 - 5 Mar 1974) in the administration of Edward Heath; sworn in as a member of the UK Privy Council (22 Jun 1970); after the Conservative defeat in the General Election 1974, she was approved shadow Minister for the Environment and Housing (11 Mar 1974) and later as shadow spokesman on Treasury affairs (7 Nov 1974); defeated Heath (4 Feb 1975) and William Whitelaw (11 Feb 1975) in two ballots for party leadership, and was formally installed as Leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party (20 Feb 1975 - 27 Nov 1990); headed the Opposition to the Government of James Callaghan (1975-1979); was asked to form a government as Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury (4 May 1979 - 28 Nov 1990) after the Conservatives obtained a majority of 43 seats in the General Election of 1979 (3 May 1979: Conservative 339, Labour 268, Liberal 11, Scottish National Party 2, Plaid Cymru 2, others 13); reached an agreement on the future of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia (1979); responded to Argentina's invasion of the Falkland Islands with sending military force that led to the Falklands War (1982); her leadership during the Falklands War transformed her public image and ensured a landslide victory in the 1983 General Election (9 Jun 1983): Conservative 397, Labour 209, Alliance 23 (Liberal 17, Social Democratic Party 6), Scottish National Party 2, Plaid Cymru 2, others 17; faced a domestic challenge, when a national miners' strike began in March 1984 continuing for a year in an atmosphere of bitterness and violence; deliberately broke with postwar consensus politics, forming a political attitude known as 'Thatcherism,' a blend of free-market economies, strong defense and nationalism; survived a bomb explosion, allegedly the work of Irish separatists, killing 5 people at the Conservative annual conference in Brighton (12 Oct 1984); signed the Anglo-Irish Agreement (15 Nov 1985), allowing the Republic of Ireland a consultative role in Northern Ireland affairs; retained parliamentary majority after the 1987 General Election (11 Jun 1987): Conservative 376, Labour 229, Alliance 22 (Liberal 17, Social Democratic Party 5), Ulster Unionist 9, Scottish National Party 3, Plaid Cymru 3, Social Democratic and Labour Party 3, Democratic Unionist 3, others 2); due to her dominance over the ministers of her Government, she provoked many resignations throughout her three administrations; further splits in her party and Government over economic and European policies, plus the introduction of the disastrous 'poll tax' led to further resignations and finally a challenge to her leadership in 1990; failing to secure an adequate majority in the first ballot for Conservative leadership (20 Nov 1990), she announced her decision (22 Nov 1990) not to contest second ballot and intention to resign as Prime Minister as soon as a new leader of the Conservative Party is elected; tendered her resignation (28 Nov 1990) after John Major was elected (27 Nov 1990) as a new Conservative leader; was created baroness and became a member of the House of Lords in 1992.
Biographical sources: "Margaret Thatcher, Volume One: The Grocer's Daughter", by John Campbell (London: Cape, 2000); "Margaret Thatcher, Volume Two: The Iron Lady", by John Campbell (London: Cape, 2003).

[1] Grantham Methodist Circuit MSS, Lincolnshire County Record Office, Lincoln (1/5).
[2] In accordance with The Minister for the Civil Service Order 1968 (SI 1968/1656), the Prime Minister is also Minister for the Civil Service (effective 1 Nov 1968).
[3] The Daily Telegraph, Saturday, May 5, 1979, No. 38,541, p. 10: "Court Circular BUCKINGHAM PALACE, May 4 <...> The Rt Hon. James Callaghan had an audience of the Queen this afternoon and tendered his resignation as Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury which Her Majesty was graciously pleased to accept. The Queen subsequently received in audience the Rt Hon. Margaret Thatcher and requested her to form a new Administration. The Rt Hon. Margaret Thatcher accepted Her Majesty's offer and kissed hands upon her appointment as Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury."
[4] Appointment as Lord Commissioner of the Treasury by Letters Patent under the Great Seal dated 8 May 1979, announced by the Crown Office 8 May 1979, and gazetted 11 May 1979 (The London Gazette, No. 47839, Friday, 11th May 1979, p. 6159).
[5] The Daily Telegraph, Saturday, May 12, 1979, No. 38,547, p. 14: "Court Circular BUCKINGHAM PALACE, May 5 <...> The Queen held a Council at 6 o'clock this evening. <...> The Rt Hon. Margaret Thatcher was sworn First Lord of the Treasury and Minister for Civil Service and kissed hands upon appointment."
[6] The Times, No. 63,876, Thursday November 29 1990, p. 20: "Court Circular BUCKINGHAM PALACE November 28: The Right Hon Margaret Thatcher, MP, had an audience of The Queen this morning and tendered her resignation as Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury which Her Majesty was graciously pleased to accept."
[7] The London Gazette, No. 52978, Wednesday, 1st July 1992, p. 11045.
Image: photograph, 1985.
Last updated on: 03 Jul 2016 01:13:16