The Thatcher Years: Remembering Britain’s Iron Lady

Thatcher Years

1979 saw the beginning of the end of one political era and the dawn of the next, a change in politics and direction in Britain that would dominate the 1980s and make a significant and lasting change to the country. Thatcher become known as the ‘The Iron Lady’, the lady was not for turning, and led through some testing times, some of the leaders own making and some not; the Falklands, ‘Big Bang’, ‘Poll Tax‘, Miners Strike, Northern Ireland, and the ‘No No No’ to the EU. 

Thatcher Served in office: 4th May 1979 – 28th Nov 1990 For 3 terms in total.

One of Britain’s longest serving Prime Minister of the 20th Century. One of the biggest imprints on our social economic and political history. No matter if you were Tory or Labour, most people have some experience comment and opinion on the Thatcher years.

The Beginning, the journey started on the 13th October 1925

Margaret Thatcher nee Roberts was born on 13th October 1925

Born in Grantham, Lincolnshire, her father was a grocer. Mother was a competent seamstress and made a lot of Margaret’s clothes. She attended grammar school and went on to Somerville College Oxford to study Chemistry. In 1946 Margaret joined the Student Conservative Association at Oxford and became their student President mingling with visiting politicians.

At the start of the 1950s, Margaret ran as conservative candidate for Dartford. Although unsuccessful, M Thatcher, already flagged up as the youngest female candidate in the country. She was working as a research chemist for BX Plastics during this period.

Elected as an MP for Finchley in 1959, under Prime Minister MacMillan Thatcher held junior administrative posts. In October 1969 appointed shadow education spokesperson, in 1970 she held the post “Secretary of State for Education and Science”

Denis Thatcher, the original Philip May

Denis Thatcher became her husband in 1951 at Wesley’s Chapel on City Road. He was a businessman and executive in the oil industry. The couple met in Dartford. Dennis already achieved an MBE for services in the military. His family owned the Atlas preservatives company, he managed it. Being wealthy with properties and expanding overseas business it was Mr Thatcher that financed Mrs. Thatcher’s training, Later on, she went to study Law and became a barrister. She specialised in Taxation.

Mrs. Thatcher acknowledged her husband when she made reference how she would never have had been Prime Minister for 11 years “Without Denis by my side”. In 1953 MT became a mother to twins a boy and a girl, Mark Thatcher and Carol Thatcher

The 1970s, demise of the Tories and the rise of Thatcher

Labour WIN the 1974 General Election

In 1974 the conservatives lost, to the Labour opposition. Callaghan took over Prime Minister role 1976-1979. However, Thatcher took over leadership of the opposition, the conservative party in 1975 and was the first female to take this role.

In 1974 the conservatives lost the general election to Labour. This was a time of minority governments of Harold Wilson and then more securely James Callaghan as Prime Minister up to the 1979 general election. In 1975 Thatcher took on the role of leader of the opposition, the first female to take the position. 4 years later, Thatcher led the conservative party to Victory, and became Britain’s first female Prime Minister.

What was Britain like during the 1970s, high taxation, strikes, power cuts, rubbish on the streets are the often referred to headlines, on the opposite side, speak to people who lived during the 1970s and some might tell you warm summers, and good music.

The country did indeed run out of money and needed credit help in 1976 from the International Monetary Fund.

Thatcher wins the 1979 General Election

I would just like to remember some words of Saint Francis of Assisi which I think are just apt at the moment.

Where there is discord, may we bring harmony, where there is error, may we bring truth,

where there is doubt may we bring faith, and where there is despair, may we bring hope.”

On Becoming Prime Minister, steps of Downing Street, Margarette Thatcher

The Falkland’s War

When the Argentine military junta invaded the Falkland Islands, most of the UK Population had heard of the tiny islands over 8000 miles away in the South Atlantic

We must recover the Falkland islands for Britain and for the people who live there who are of British stock,”

April 5th 1982 British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher

Thatcher made a relatively quick decision to take control of the situation and to prepare a Royal Navy task force to sail and recover the Falkland Islands. The Iron Lady at the time of crisis presented a solid response to the situation.

2/4/1982 Argentina invaded the Falkland island. Argentina surrenders June 14th 1982

IRA/ Ireland during the Thatcher Years

1985 Thatcher signed the Anglo-Irish Agreement with Ireland’s Prime Minister Garret FitzGerald. This enabled the Irish Government to have an advisory role. This was the start to a long road of better cooperation between British and Irish Governments and compromises on both sides.

Thatcher, the Iron Lady to the public, standing firm and resolute and stating government policy was not to deal with anyone who uses bombs and bullets. The significant changes happened during the Tony Blair government, years later with the Good Friday Agreement with a different approach adopted. 

HONG KONG and Thatcher

The first British Prime Minister to visit China was Margaret Thatcher. 2 years of negotiations with the Chinese over the fate of Hong Kong signed the Sino British Joint Declaration 1984 agreeing to hand over Hong Kong’s Sovereignty in 1997.

“She is an enemy of apartheid. We have much to thank her for.”

Nelson Mandela on Thatcher.

Standing up to terrorism, the EEC and the Commonwealth Margaret Thatcher fought to end sanctions imposed and Apartheid.

USSR and the Soviets meet Thatcher

In a 1976 speech, M. Thatcher made a speech that first earned her the “Iron Lady” alias, as the Soviet Army newspaper Red Star gave this name to her. Ironic considering they came from behind the Iron curtain.

Foreign peace Negotiations during the Thatcher Years

Rhodesia situation in 1979 that then ended that crisis, and the result, a new land, Zimbabwe in 1980

Cold War and the Adversary that coined the Iron Lady

Soviet invaded Afghanistan, Thatcher condemned the invasion which gave the idea for some British athletes to boycott the 1980 Moscow Olympics.

Other criticisms about how weapons or other help were secretly being supplied to our enemies loomed

November 1988 “We’re not in a Cold War now,”, but in a “new relationship much wider than the Cold War ever was,”.

Nothing is ever enough, the NHS reforms

1987 £100m emergency funding

Thatcher Years, Image and Brand

Today it is much more mainstream for high profile and famous people to have a stylist or image consultant.

It was a first, but also it was a first for Britain to have a female Prime Minister, it also must not be forgotten that Parliment opened the chamber to the cameras during the Thatcher years, times were changing. The public face of the government up until this point wore a suit. Thatcher’s presentation required studious planning for state occasions, travel, press situations, media moments or public visits. This was all new. Think about that, at the end of the 1970s, before Icons such as Princess Diana1984 to 1985. Thatcher developed the government policy of defeating the, and magazines like based whole sections to who was wearing what and from where. Before the internet and Social Media.

clothes brand Aquascutum Margaret King

From 1979 a key person advising PM Thatcher was the director of luxury clothes brand Aquascutum Margaret King.

Mrs. Thatcher’s personal assistant “Crawfie” was Cynthia Crawford who played a huge part in the image styling we knew Margaret Thatcher as. The Classic skirt suits, handbags, pearls conservative colours literally. Pussy-bow blouses, pleated skirts, sensible shoes.

1987 Trip to Moscow

Meeting stylish glamorous first ladies in other countries especially the Soviet Union needed a campaign. 1987 Trip to Moscow photographically bears testimony to the impact of power dressing. Thatcher made some subtle influences in the choices so some of her own creativity crept in.

click on the links to see images.

Environment issues during the Thatcher Years

Passing the Environmental Protection Act 1990, and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Titles Lady Baroness to Lady of the Order of the Garter.

After resignation in the early 1990s, Margaret Thatcher received (OM) Order of merit and was known as Lady Thatcher. 1992 life peerage and member of Lords and titled Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven Lincolnshire. 1995 she received the highest order a woman can receive (LG) Lady of the Order of the Garter. USA 1998 awarded the Ronald Reagan Freedom Award.


Margaret Thatcher passed away 13th April 2013

Britains first female prime minister, funeral
Britains first female prime minister, funeral
Funeral of Margaret Thatcher
Funeral of Margaret Thatcher

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