Margaret Thatcher

Updated on Apr 19, 2004 04:08 PM IST

As UK's first woman PM, Margaret Thatcher held the office for longer than anyone in the 20th century.

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As United Kingdom's first woman prime minister, Margaret Thatcher held the office for longer than anyone in the 20th century. Born Margaret Roberts on October 13, 1925, the daughter of a grocer, she graduated from Oxford in chemistry.

She first ran for Parliament in 1950 failed, as did her second the next year, but she was determined enough to be in politics and eventually succeeded in winning in 1959. In 1951 she married Dennis Thatcher and the couple had twin children, Mark and Carol.

Under Prime Minister Edward Heath, she held the posts of joint parliamentary secretary of Pensions and National Insurance and secretary of Education and Science. Backed by right wing of the party, Thatcher attacked Heath's economic policies and replaced him as Conservative Party chief in 1975.

The Conservatives won the May 1979 elections and Thatcher became the Prime Minister of Britain. Her economic policies did not cut ice with the people but her handling of the Falklands War with Argentina in 1982 earned her popular acclaim and sobriquet of "The Iron Lady". Patriotism returned her to office in 1983, and a boost in economy ensured that she made history in 1987 by assuming the office at 10 Downing Street for the third time.

In the international politics arena, she established her self as a staunch anti-communist leader much to the happiness of Britain's closest ally the United States. She shared close relations with President Ronald Regan, backed NATO and took hard line against the anti-nuclear demonstrators.

Widespread discontent due to her economic policies and intra-party disputes forced Thatcher to resign in 1990. She held Finchely parliamentary seat until 1992, when she called it quits. In 1992, Margaret Thatcher was made a baroness.

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