Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher, LG, OM, PC, FRS (née Roberts; born 13 October 1925) is a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990. The first female British prime minister and the longest-serving of the 20th century, Thatcher’s strict conservative policies, hard line against trade unions and tough rhetoric in opposition to the Soviet Union earned her the nickname the “Iron Lady”. Originally a chemist, then a barrister, Thatcher became Member of Parliament (MP) for Finchley in the 1959 general election. During her time in Parliament, she heavily criticised the tax policies of the Labour Government. Edward Heath appointed Thatcher Secretary of State for Education and Science in his 1970 government. In 1975 Thatcher became Leader of the Conservative Party (and Leader of the Opposition), the first woman to head a major political party in the United Kingdom. After leading her party to victory in the 1979 general election she became the UK’s Prime Minister. After entering 10 Downing Street, Thatcher was determined to reverse what she perceived as a precipitous national decline. Her political philosophy and economic policies emphasised deregulation, particularly of the financial sector, flexible labour markets, the sale or closure of state-owned companies, and the withdrawal of subsidies to others. In her first few years in office, Thatcher’s popularity waned amid recession and high unemployment, until economic recovery and the 1982 Falklands War brought a resurgence of support resulting in her re-election in 1983. Thatcher was re-elected for a third term in 1987, but her Community Charge was widely unpopular and her views on the European Community were not shared by others in her Cabinet. She resigned as Prime Minister and party leader in November 1990 after Michael Heseltine’s challenge to her leadership of the Conservative Party. Thatcher holds a life peerage as Baroness Thatcher, of Kesteven in the County of Lincolnshire, which entitles her to sit in the House of Lords.
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