The Iron Lady

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July 27, 2012 by dontbringlulubook

Iron Lady

Iron Lady

Margaret Hilda Roberts was born on 13th October 1925 to a grocer living in Lincolnshire.

No-one knew back then that she would grow up to become a formidable woman and Britain’s first female Prime Minter.

Politics was not her first choice in life – although Margaret attended Oxford University, she went on to become a research chemist, before changing direction and training as a barrister with a leaning towards taxation issues.

Yet the debates, discussions and beliefs were installed at a young age.  Her father was a local councillor and when at Oxford she was elected to the student Conservative Association.  This gave Margaret access to prominent politicians of the day.

Never one to take the easy route, she campaigned for the parliamentary seat in Dartford – a staunchly Labour constituency.

Although she lost, she had secured her position as a fighter and an orator, understanding the needs of the people around her.

Margaret did not have to wait too long before being elected as MP for Finchley, a seat she continued to hold until 1992 when she became Baroness Thatcher (having married Denis in 1951).

Having gained that seat, her career continued to move upwards at a fast rate.  Junior Office in the administration of Harold Macmillan and when the Conservatives obtained office under Edward Heath, Margaret was named Education Secretary.

This was not an easy position and not an easy period for the Conservatives.  They were soon defeated in the General Election of February 1974.  Following defeat for a second time in October that same year, Margaret decided to fight for the leadership of the party.

The following year Margaret Thatcher became the first female leader of a major political party in the Western world.

Following a period of economic turmoil in the United Kingdom where strict terms imposed by the IMF caused an air of uncertainty and strikes were rife, the Conservatives gained popularity – or rather Labour lost support.

In 1979 Margaret led her party to victory in the General Election – once again she made history, the first female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

During her three terms in office there were highs and lows.  The economy did make a u-turn and growth once again was possible.  The methods were not to everyone’s likings with unemployment in the early years reaching over 3 million.  Many companies could not cope with financial restrictions and were forced to close.

Trade union reforms were met by strikes, the most violent and long-lasting was that of the miners.  The IRA stepped up their attacks and even targeted the Prime Minister herself.

Privatisation was a growing idea which saw a huge leap in investments in the stock market.  The ‘nanny’ state was long gone.  Changes were also brought to education and health, and the Community Charge, so fondly titled the ‘Poll Tax’, was a strong rallying point for all her opposition.

The idea of the European Union went full circle, from supporting the cause to defending the country from its overbearing demands.  A similar situation could be said of the Cold War – anti-communism and Soviet rule at the start of Thatcher’s reign to a more warming acceptance once Mikhail Gorbachev took office.

Margaret Thatcher changed many different areas during her time in office.  The controversies and reactions surrounding them were great stories for any journalist or news reporter.  But it was one event in particular which indirectly affected news broadcasting forever.  The Falklands War.

Very few international governments expected the United Kingdom to defend the Falklands to such an extent.  Once diplomacy failed following the Argentine attempt to reclaim the ‘Malvinas’, Thatcher went to war.  The war on the front-line was covered not only by the trusted BBC reporters, but independent journalists were finally given the all clear to produce their own coverage.

This breakthrough is one of the defining moments of Ron Onions career: he fought for independent coverage and he succeeded.  This, for the first time, showed that independent journalists were up to task and surpassed their better-known counterparts as they focused not merely on the military warfare but the effects this was having on the individual.  The war became a human conflict.

1982 was seen as a strong period of Margaret Thatcher’s leadership.   Eight years later she resigned her premiership after support within her own cabinet deserted.  Margaret continued working in the public domain until 2002 after a series of strokes forced her to retire.

Whether you are a Thatcherite or not the effects of her leadership are still felt today.  Some governments copy her ideas, others stay well away.

Whatever your opinion, Margaret Thatcher was and remains a formidable person.

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