“The Iron Lady” If you lead a country like Britain, a strong country, a country which has taken a lead in world affairs in good times and in bad, a country that is always reliable, then you have to have a touch of iron about you. Margaret Thatcher, the first woman to lead a major Western democracy, spoke these words. She served as Great Britain’s Prime Minister for more than eleven years (1979-1990), and led with an iron fist bringing down inflation in England, reviving the British economy, reclaiming the Falkland Islands, and never wavering against the Soviets in the Cold War. Born as Margaret Hilda Roberts on October 13, 1925, in Grantham, Lincolnshire, England, she was the youngest daughter of Alfred and Beatrice Roberts. Her father was a local businessman who operated a grocery store where the Robert’s family lived in an apartment above. Thatcher was introduced to politics by her father. He was active in the town council and later became mayor. She was accepted at Oxford University where she studied chemistry, although it took second place to her love of politics. Thus, she became politically active on campus. She was elected president of the student Conservative Association at Oxford which gave way to many political connections for her future. She ran as the Conservative candidate for the Labour seat of Dartford at the General Elections of 1950 and 1951. Although she lost both times, she did win fame for being the youngest woman candidate in the country, since during the elections; she was only in her mid-twenties. Losing never deterred Thatcher. She continued her involvement with the Conservative Party in Kent where she met her future husband, Denis Thatcher. They were married in 1951. He, being a wealthy businessman, funded her studies for the bar, and she became a barrister in 1953. It was that same year she and her husband excitedly welcomed their twins, Mark and Carol into their family. Even though a new mother, Margaret Thatcher did not slow down her political rampage. She kept focus and finally in 1959 she smoothly took the election and claimed her seat in the House of Commons. She was everything from Secretary at the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance to Secretary of State for Education and Science. She gained many supporters, as well as fueling many protesters; specially when she felt forced to make cuts in the Educational budget and tossed out free milk in the schools. This action gained her the nickname, “Maggie Thatcher, milk snatcher. ” Her popularity and fortitude as a leader rebounded quite nicely, and she became the Conservative Leader. On January 19th, 1976 Thatcher made a speech in Kensington Town Hall. During this speech, she boldly attacked the Soviet Union. Her most famous lines were: The Russians are bent on world dominance, and they are rapidly acquiring the means to become the most powerful imperial nation the world has seen. The men in the Soviet Politburo do not have to worry about the ebb and flow of public opinion.
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