Margaret Hilda Thatcher Essay Research Paper Margaret

Margaret Hilda Thatcher Essay, Research Paper

Margaret Hilda Thatcher

Margaret Hilda Thatcher’s overwhelming sense of self-confidence and

ambition ruled her life from the time she was a small child in Grantham, though

her Oxford years and during her early years in politics. It led her to become

the first female Prime Minister of Great Britain, and also helped through her

difficult political years as “Attila the Hun”.

Britain’s first female Prime Minister was born on October 13, 1925 in a

small room over a grocer’s shop in Grandham, England. Margaret Hilda was the

second daughter of Alfred and Beatrice Roberts. She often stated that she was

brought up very strictly:

I owe everything in my life to two things: a good home, and a good education.

My home was ordinary, but good in the sense that my parents were passionately

interested in the future of my sister and myself. At the same time, they gave

us a good education – not only in school, but at home as well (Gardiner, 1975,


As a child, thrift and practicality were instilled in Margaret’s

character. The Methodist church played an active part in the lives of the

Roberts. She attended good schools as a child and spent her years studying with

the intent of attending Oxford. Margaret arrived at Oxford in the autumn of

1943. During her years here, Margaret worked in a canteen for the war effort,

continued her interest in music by joining various choirs and joined the Oxford

University Conservative Association where she became very active in it’s

political activities.

After Oxford, Margaret became the youngest female candidate of the

Dartford Association. She was unofficially engaged to Denis Thatcher at this

time, and they married in December 1951. Twins were born the following year.

During this period, she studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1954. In the

same year she was a candidate for the Oysington Conservative Association.

Margaret won in a Tory landslide at Finchley, a suburb of London in 1959.

Her parliamentary career had begun. A stroke of good luck gave her the

opportunity of presenting her first bill almost immediately. This bill was to

allow the press to attend the meetings of the local councils. The bill was

eventually passed and it greatly enhanced her reputation. In 1964 she was part

of the opposition and saw the other side of politics. Between 1970 and 1974

Thatcher was the Secretary of State for Education and Science. She enjoyed the

tough verbal conflict of parliamentary debates. She had a quick mind and an

even quicker tongue, along with an enormous self-confidence. She liked to fight

and liked to win.

In 1975, the Conservatives were the first party in Britain to chose a

woman as leader and potential Prime Minister:

It was the backbenchers, not the Leader, or his Shadow Cabinet, who forced a

ballot, and it was a backbenchers- candidate who emerged triumphant from it.

When the election was announced on January 23, and in the first ballot Margaret

had the support of only one member of a Shadow Cabinet of 23 she was regarded

with suspicion by most of those managing the party machine at Central Office,

and opposed by many in the National Union. In short, she was an anti-

establishment candidate. Her campaign manager was a backbencher, backbenchers

of varying shades of opinion made up her campaign committee who voted decisively

for change(Gardiner, 1975, p.204).

In May 1979, Thatcher became the first female Prime Minister of Great

Britain. Her party won again in 1983 and 1987. Thatcher resigned as Prime

Minister and leader of the Conservative Party in November 1990, after loosing

the support of the party. She remained in the House of Commons until 1992. In

the same year, Thatcher was made a Baroness by the queen and became a member of

the House of Lords.

Abse, author of “Margaret daughter of Beatrice” paints an entirely

different picture of Thatcher’s family background. In his psycho-biography, he

describes Margaret’s mother as strict, cold and unloving. He states that this

resulted in her being narcissistic, aggressive, and a workaholic, as well as

being attracted to money. Thatcher has claimed to owe everything to her father,

and at no point does she acknowledge her mother’s contribution. Abse also

claims that Thatcher is chronically and traumatically frustrated, and that she

went into politics for recognition and gratification. Fellow politicians were

not enamored of Thatcher, especially after she ended a ?8 million a year free

milk program for primary school children while Secretary of State for Education.

He says: the public subliminally sensed she was acting out the role of a

depriving mother, as indeed she was, and reacted with fury. ?Thatcher, milk

snatcher’ rang out at almost everyone of her public meetings and, in the Commons,

my less decorous colleagues cat-called every time she rose with ?ditch the

bitch’. She was never to recover personal popularity until she became the

warrior queen of the Falklands war (Abse, 1989, p.2 9).

During the food shortage in the 1970’s, Thatcher was found to be

hoarding food. Her excuse was that he husband was soon to retire and that she

needed to stock up for the future. Besides being a millionaire, Mr. Thatcher

was still working ten years later. She attempted to bring back capital

punishment. She thrived on confrontation and crisis, and was been involved in

political indiscretions. With regards to her children, Abse claims that

Margaret appeared to be cold, unfeeling and unloving. She was a permissive

mother and was incapable of acknowledging her own domestic failures.

When she took office, Thatcher promised to put the British economy back

on it’s feet. She wanted an economic program that would reduce inflation, break

the power of unions to disrupt the economy, to create new industry and trade,

and to bring the country to a new level of prosperity. She promised to bring

about a complete and radical change in the British society by dissolving the

welfare state. Thatcher believed in free economy, not a government controlled

one. Unfortunately, none of the things she promised actually happened as she


Thatcher wanted to return to the Victorian values of hard work, thrift,

self reliance and a strong sense of duty. She did not believe in compromise.

She campaigned to cut government spending, reduce income tax and to do away with

government support for small firms that could not prosper on their own. She

raised the value added sales tax on all but the most essential goods to 15%.

She cut government spending on foreign aid, and the services supported by towns,

villages, and cities across the country. These programs were unsuccessful due

to the fact that high interest rates and high sales taxes stopped businesses and

individuals from spending. The economy went into a decline. The unemployment

rate rose, and the government had to put out more money on unemployment

insurance. The people started to call her “Attila the Hen.”

The British people forgot their woes and forgave Thatcher after the

Falkland War. She won the next election with the campaign slogan “Maggie is our

man”. She was not able to bring peace to Ireland, and at one point she was

almost killed.

Some people thought she was too powerful, particularly in the area of

free speech. In 1988, she stepped up efforts to sensor papers, books and

magazines. In 1989, she attempted to privatize the national health service.

Thatcher’s personal vision of the future was that of a “Britain where

everyone has a financial stake and a commitment to Britain’s success”(Harris,

1988, p.241). Part of this commitment was home-ownership, which was one of the

contributing factors to the first election in 1979. In her second term of

office, she created ?Popular Capitalism’ by the selling of state assets or


Thatcher’s basic goal was not the extension of the government, but the

limitation of it. She believed that if the government was limited to specific

roles, it would get stronger. She believed in tax reform, small firm

encouragement schemes, help for new technologies, responsibilities and the

family, law and order and improvement of the environment. Her “ideology is

empirical and instinctive, but not the product of great study or reflection, and

it amounts to a rather simple (though not unsophisticated) radical

libertarianism”(Mayer, 1979, p.11). Mayer goes on to say that she is hardly a

mother-figure for a nation. Though she is caring and considerate with close

associates, she does not project warmth or humor. The public sees her as a

strict nanny, not a loving mommy. She is tough minded and has great stamina and

a tenacious spirit. Thatcher has stated that she has never doubted her

fundamental convictions.

Margaret Thatcher grew up in an era when women were not normally

successful as politicians or as business women. Even so, she managed to

transform her sex from a liability to a major political asset. She may have

been unpopular at times due to her approach to life and politics, but a “softer”

female Prime Minister might not have been as effective. Recognition was earned

through her overwhelming sense of ambition and dedication to the job: “Thatcher,

Milk Snatcher” was bestowed the title Baroness and there-by received the

recognition that she had craved all her life.



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