History-makers Part 26: Margaret Thatcher

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 March, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 March, 2010, 12:00am

Full name: Magaret Hilda Thatcher
Nickname: The Iron Lady
Profession: politican, chemist, lawyer
Famous for: her transformation of Britain through embracing free trade
Born: October 13, 1925, Grantham, Lincolnshire, Britain
Married: Sir Denis Thatcher

Humble beginnings

Find words that mean: rich, someone who stands up for their belief, in the end, started

Margaret Roberts was born in a small town where her father owned two grocery shops. Her was probably an influence on her. He was a principled, religious man who was active in local politics.

She worked hard at school, and in 1943, won a scholarship to go to Oxford University where she studied chemistry.

Roberts stayed at Oxford from 1943 to 1950, and was eventually awarded a master's degree in science. Taking her skills to work in the ice cream industry, the 25-year-old also launch her political career.

Roberts jointed the conservative party, or ?Tories?, as they are known. She was then the youngest woman ever to run for a Conservative seat. Although she lost her first election, she attracted a lot of media attention.

In 1951, she met and married Denis Thatcher. He was a wealthy, retired businessman, who paid for her return to her studies. She studied law.

Rising through the ranks

Find words that mean opposite: cowardly, in fits and start, implementing, well in advance

It took Thatcher some years to fully enter politics. She could not find a seat in the 1955 British elections and nearly missed out on the 1959 election, too. But at the last minute, she was given the seat of Finchley. She became a Member of Parliament.

Thatcher was a powerful speaker, and she rose steadily in the ranks while the Tories were out of power, from 1964 to 1970. When they won the general election in 1970, Thatcher became Education Minister.

Her career got off to a bad start when she was labelled ?Margaret Thatcher, the milk snatcher? for abolishing free milk for children in schools. But she learned from the experience.

When her party lost the next election, she decided it was time to put it - and Britain - on a new course. In early 1975, she challenged the Conservative leader, Edward Heath, and won in a party vote.

Her next step was to create an image for herself as the ?Iron Lady? - strong and unafraid to carry welfare state. Her name would be used to describe the changes that took place in Britain: ?Thatcherite?.

At the helm

Fill in the gaps: plummeting, integration, resigned, lowering, reducing, improving

Thatcher became prime minister in 1979. She quickly started privatizing national industries, selling public housing to tenants, taking on the power of labour unions and ______________ taxes. But inflation was running high, and by the early 1980s, unemployment was the highest it had been since the 1930s.

Her popularity was ____________ and she might have lost the next election if Argentina had not invaded the Falkland Islands on April 2, 1983. The Falklands are near Argentina, but under British control.

The day after the invasion, Thatcher sent a naval task force to deal with it. On Jun 14, Argentina surrendered. The following year, amid a gradually ____________ economy. Thatcher was voted back into power.

Thatcher continued her programme of privatizing Britain's national industries and ____________ the power of the trade unions. She opposed ____________with the European Union and getting rid of the pound in favour of a common currency. She negotiated Hong Kong's return to China with Deng Xiaoping.

In 1987, she was voted in for a third term. When Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, she urged then US president George H.W. Bush to go to war and kick him out. British troops joined the US-led coalition.

Thatcher finally ___________ in 1990. She had been the longest-serving British leader of the 20th century.

True or false?

To test your memory, try answering without referring to the text. If you can't remember the details, read the piece again.

1 Margaret Thatcher was born into a wealthy family.

2 Thatcher graduated from Oxford University.

3 Thatcher was opposed to the Gulf War of 1990.

4 Thatcher was defeated in a general election after three terms in power.