Yoon Joung Lee
The first woman elected the Prime Minister of England in 1979, Margaret Thatcher, was born in 1925 in Grandtham, England. She was born to Alfred and Beatrice Roberts. Her father owned a couple of grocery shops and he was also a respected local politician serving as lay-leader with their church.
Since her father was an active town politician, she was introduced to conservative politics by her father from her early years. A smart young girl, Margaret studied chemistry at Oxford University. There, she became President of the Oxford University Conservative Association and she was significantly influenced by various political works including Friedrich von Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom (1944). In 1947 she finished her study at Oxford with Second Class Honours in the four-year Chemistry Bachelor of Science degree. After graduating college, Thatcher worked as a research chemist in Colchester.
While she worked as a chemist, she met her husband, Denis Thatcher who was a successful businessman. They married in 1951. After her marriage, she took time off to study law and the couple had twins, Carol and Mark, the next year.
In 1953, as she became a barrister, she went back to the political arena. In 1959 she won a seat in the House of Commons, representing Finchley. Two years later in 1961, she was appointed to joint parliamentary secretary for Pensions and National Insurance at the government of Harold Macmillan. In 1970, Thatcher was appointed Minister for Education and Science. Her new budget cutting campaign, eliminating free school milk for children over seven and increasing school meal charges created great controversy. When the Conservative party lost general elections in 1974, she defeated Edward Heath for the party’s leadership. In 1979, she was elected Prime Minister and served for eleven and a half years which was the longest term for any British Minister in the 20th Century.
Her eleven and a half years tenure was eventful. Thatcher led England out of an economic recession, inter-city riots and miners’ strike, and brought Falkland war to a victory. In 1990 returning for a third term, she was forced to resign as Prime Mister because she lost a lot of support by her efforts to implement a fixed rate local tax called a poll tax and her refusal to endorse a common currency for Europe led the Conservative party.
After her resignation, she travelled over the world lecturing and served as president of numerous organizations dedicated to her causes. For the last few years, she suffered from her health issue and no longer speaks in public. Thatcher received people’s attention not only because she was the first female minister, but because her work and effort led England out of a long recession and led a war in defense of the British Falkland Islands.