Thatcher won the first ballot but by too small of a margin for outright victory. That night, her cabinet members visited her one by one and urged her to resign. She officially stepped down on November 28 after helping to assure that John Major and not Heseltine would replace her. Thatcher remained in parliament until , at which time she entered the largely ceremonial House of Lords and began to write her memoirs.
Though she stopped appearing in public after suffering a series of small strokes in the early s, her influence remained strong. In fact, many of her free market policies have since been adopted, not only by Conservatives, but also by Labour Party leaders like Tony Blair. Margaret Thatcher died on April 8, , at the age of But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! Subscribe for fascinating stories connecting the past to the present. The Wars of the Roses were a series of bloody civil wars for the throne of England between two competing royal families: the House of York and the House of Lancaster, both members of the age-old royal Plantagenet family.
Waged between and , the Wars of the Roses earned Cultural anthropologist and writer Margaret Meade was born in Philadelphia and graduated from Barnard College in Appointed assistant curator of ethnology at the American Museum of Natural History in , she embarked on two dozen trips to the South Pacific to Victoria was queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland — and empress of India — She was the last of the House of Hanover and gave her name to an era, the Victorian Age.
During her reign the English monarchy took on its modern Winston Churchill was one of the best-known, and some say one of the greatest, statesmen of the 20th century. Though he was born into a life of privilege, he dedicated himself to public service. His legacy is a complicated one: He was an idealist and a pragmatist; an orator and The history of the legislative body—which meets in the Palace of Westminster in London—shows how it evolved almost organically, partly Queen Elizabeth II has since served as reigning monarch of the United Kingdom England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland and numerous other realms and territories, as well as head of the Commonwealth, the group of 53 sovereign nations that includes many former British But as history, we must not allow politics to blind ourselves from reaching an impartial and balanced picture of the achievements and failings of the Thatcher government.
Attlee and Thatcher had the skill and decisiveness to ride a popular mood and leave behind them a fundamentally different sort of society from the one they inherited. But Attlee was far and away the more successful. He built something genuinely new, while the Thatcher settlement was largely a throwback to the inter-war years. The Thatcher template does not now look anything like as durable. London government returned as early as — Thatcher had left London the only major capital in the world without its own government. Other elements of the Thatcher settlement look as though they may not survive the present crisis.
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An outsider in terms of both her gender and social class, she had to struggle against many of the prejudices of her day. She first entered parliament in , one of only two dozen women MPs out of over Yet through hard work and discipline, aided by a wealthy, supportive husband, she became in the first woman to lead a major Western power. Although the tough, determined Thatcher was an important role model for some aspiring women, she was no feminist. She did not pursue women-friendly policies, nor did she extend a ladder to other able women in her party.
A conviction politician with a strong belief that she was right, she liked confrontation and argument rather than a consensual style of leadership. Thatcher enjoyed being surrounded by men, like a queen bee. Her femininity was part of the key to her success. Conservative men, many of whom had been brought up by authoritative women such as nannies or distant mothers, were not used to challenging such a formidable figure. In Ronald Reagan she found a friend who shared her hatred of Soviet communism.
When Thatcher took power the British economy was clearly struggling.
In the s, she had the insight to make contact with a relatively unknown moderniser in the Politburo, Mikhail Gorbachev, a man with whom she could do business. When Thatcher visited the Soviet Union in , she was mobbed by the public who saw her as upholding those freedoms they so desperately wanted. Yet her domestic policies at home made her a divisive, polarising figure. She rolled back the state, introduced privatisation of state-owned utilities and supported a free market economy. Respected, viewed with awe, a conviction politician, but if liking came into it, that was an accident.
This is a style whose absence is much missed. It accounted for a large part of the mark Thatcher left on Britain. Her unforgettable presence, but also her policy achievements. Mobilising society, by rule of law, against the trade union bosses was undoubtedly an achievement.
For the most part, it has not been undone. Selling public housing to the tenants who occupied it was another, on top of the denationalisation of industries and utilities once thought to be ineluctably and for ever in the hands of the state.
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Neither shift of ownership and power would have happened without a leader prepared to take risks with her life. Each now seems banal. These developments set a benchmark.
They married the personality and belief to action. But this didn't come without a price. Still plumbing for the essence, we have to examine other bits of residue. Much of any leader's record is unremarkable dross, and Thatcher was no exception. But keeping the show on the road is what all of them must first attend to, because there's nobody else to do it. Under this heading, Thatcher left a dark legacy that, like her successes, has still not disappeared behind the historical horizon. Three aspects of it never completely leave my head. The first is what changed in the temper of Britain and the British.
It led to riots that nobody needed. Materialistic individualism was blessed as a virtue, the driver of national success. Thatcherism failed to destroy the welfare state. The lady was too shrewd to try that, and barely succeeded in reducing the share of the national income taken by the public sector. But the sense of community evaporated. There turned out to be no such thing as society, at least in the sense we used to understand it. Whether pushing each other off the road, barging past social rivals, beating up rival soccer fans, or idolising wealth as the only measure of virtue, Brits became more unpleasant to be with.
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This regrettable transformation was blessed by a leader who probably did not know it was happening because she didn't care if it happened or not. But it did, and the consequences seem impossible to reverse.
The Invincible Mrs. Thatcher
Second, it's now easier to see the scale of the setback she inflicted on Britain's idea of its own future. Nations need to know the big picture of where they belong and, coinciding with the Thatcher appearance at the top, clarity had apparently broken through the clouds of historic ambivalence. Heath took us into Europe, and a referendum in spring confirmed national approval for the move. Prime Minister Thatcher inherited a settled state of British Europeanness, in which Brussels and the [European] Community began to influence, and often determine, the British way of doing things.
She added layers of her own to this intimacy, directing the creation of a single European market that surrendered important national powers to the collective. But on the subject of Europe, Thatcher became a contradictory figure.