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Margaret Thatcher

From 1925
 to 2013

No one would remember the Good Samaritan if he'd only had good intentions; he had money as well.

Margaret Thatcher was the only female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and was leader of the Conservative Party from 1975 to 1990. Thatcher won the general election for Prime Minister three times (1979, 1983, and 1987) before finally stepping down in 1990. Conservatives hail Thatcher as the "Iron Lady" for her unwavering conviction to her political beliefs and commanding leadership style. It's a moniker she first received from The Red Star, a Soviet army newspaper that profiled her harsh denouncements of communism.

Thatcher was born Margaret Hilda Roberts in Lincolnshire County, England. As a young adult, she was a chemistry student of Somerville College, Oxford who was passionate about liberty and free market economics. This love of freedom led to her election as President of the Oxford University Conservative Association in 1946. Thatcher spent the 1950s raising her two children with husband Denis Thatcher, studying to be a barrister of taxation, and running unsuccessfully for parliament (1951, 1955). In 1959, she was elected as a MP for a seat in Finchley; a victory that launched Thatcher into a 31-year-long career in politics.

Thatcher served as a Member of Parliament representing Finchley for 11 years. At the House of Commons she spent much her time condemning labor schemes, education policies, and high taxes in the United Kingdom as dangerous endeavors that pushed the nation further and further down the path of statism. Her ability to answer tough questions and spar with the opposition earned her a spot in Edward Heath's Cabinet in 1970 as Education Secretary. Heath's reign as Prime Minister experienced difficulties, particularly with the oil embargoes and their inability to answer demands from union activists. This led to their ousting in the general election of 1974. Thatcher's popularity and actions as Education Secretary bettered her reputation among Conservatives. In 1975 she was appointed Leader of the Opposition; a position she held until her election as Prime Minister in 1979.

Her political style was so unique that the public coined her convictions as "Thatcherism," a philosophy that is often compared with Reaganomics and 19th century liberalism. Thatcher governed her 11-year tenure as Prime Minister under the ideas of economic rationalism; advocating free markets, low inflation, Monetarist economics, tax cuts, privatization, and low public expenditures. These policies allowed Thatcher to guide the United Kingdom out of a recession and win re-election twice.

It was her belief in human dignity and social justice that largely shaped her political convictions which she clung to unyieldingly. Born the daughter of a Methodist pastor, Thatcher was exposed to Biblical principles at an early age. She was raised as a devout Methodist and kept her Christian faith throughout her later life as a member of the Anglican church. During a 1978 Interview with Richard Dowden of the Catholic Herald, Dowden stated that, "Mrs. Thatcher's defense of the individual against the State is in her eyes founded on a Christian concept of man."

Margaret Thatcher realized that the free market was not the ultimate end of the civil society. A moral culture was needed whose values came from faith. Right before her rise to prime minister, she declared, "The basis of democracy is morality, not majority voting. It is the belief that the majority of people are good and decent and that there are moral standards which come not from the State but from elsewhere." In her book, Statecraft: Strategies for a Changing World, she reminded Americans to "never believe that technology alone will allow America to prevail as a superpower."