Margaret Thatcher - Britain's First Female Prime Minister


Margaret Thatcher was one of the most influential figures in British and world politics. She was Prime Minister for 11 years and defined the politics of Great Britain during this time.

Margaret Thatcher was born on October 13, 1925 in Lincolnshire as the daughter of a grocer. Her father was a preacher and influenced her political opinion. She studied chemistry at Oxford and then started work for a plastics company in Colchester, where she attended meetings of the local Conservative Party. In 1951 she married businessman Denis Thatcher.


After fighting unsuccessfully for a seat in parliament in the 1950s she became a Conservative MP for Finchley in 1959. When Edward Heath became Prime Minister in 1970 Margaret Thatcher was named education secretary. In the following years Thatcher became unsatisfied with Heath’s policies. After the Conservatives lost the election to Labor in 1974 Thatcher stood up against in Heath and became Conservative Party leader in 1975.

In 1979 Margaret Thatcher became the first female Prime Minister in Great Britain. During the energy crisis of the late 70s she worked hard to bring the country’s economy back on track.  She introduced radical spending and tax cuts. Unpopular measures did not make her a popular leader. Her approval rating sank to 30% by the early 80s.


In 1982 Thatcher gained approval by sending a naval force to fight Argentina in the Falklands War. It ensured her a victory in the 1983 general election.  During 1984 and 1985 Thatcher broke the power and influence of the miner’s union by resisting a year-long strike. In 1984 she barely escaped an IRA bomb attack at a Conservative Party conference in Brighton.

Abroad she found a friend and ally in America’s president Ronald Reagan. He also adopted a policy of tax cuts, reduced government spending and was a hardliner against Communism. In 1987 Thatcher won her third general election. After a leadership struggle in 1990 John Major took over the Conservative Party.  Thatcher finally stood down as an MP in 1992.

She was made baroness in 1995 and remained active in politics, campaigning against atrocities in the Balkans. In the last ten years her health started to deteriorate. A series of strokes and dementia led to her death on April 8, 2013.

Not very many politicians showed such influence and strength as Margaret Thatcher. She made herself unpopular among European Union leaders when she demanded Britain get a substantial refund of the country’s membership fee. Her hard stance and stubbornness gave her the nickname The Iron Lady.


Related Topics


Online Exercises




  • abroad = in other countries
  • adopt = accept, take on
  • ally = here: political and military friend
  • approval rating = the percentage of people who like someone and think they are doing a good job
  • atrocity = cruel and violent action, especially during a war
  • attend = go to, visit
  • back on track = back to a good situation
  • barely = hardly
  • baroness = woman who is a member of the nobility
  • campaign = fight for something
  • define = set the standard
  • demand = to ask for something in a very hard way
  • dementia = illness that affects your brain and memory, and slowly makes you lose  the ability to think and behave normally
  • deteriorate  = become worse
  • education secretary = minister in charge of schools and universities
  • election = when you vote for a person in a high position
  • energy crisis = time during the 1970s when oil became very expensive and there was not enough of it; many countries of the western world suffered from a deep economic crisis
  • ensure = make sure, guarantee
  • gain = get
  • general election = when  all the people of a country vote for a president or a new government
  • grocer = person who sells food
  • hardliner = person who wants to deal with something in a strong and extreme way
  • influential = powerful
  • introduce = bring in, begin, set up
  • local = from the town
  • measures = activities
  • membership fee = what a country must pay every year to be a member of a group or club
  • MP = member of parliament
  • naval force = ships that belong to a country and fight for it
  • opinion = what somebody thinks about a subject
  • policy = the way of doing something or dealing with a situation
  • politics   = activities and ideas about governing a country or a state
  • preacher = someone who talks about religion in church
  • reduce = lower
  • remain = stay
  • resist = fight back, to be against
  • stance = attitude, standpoint
  • stand down = resign , give up
  • stand up = be against someone
  • strength = being strong
  • stroke = when a blood vessel suddenly breaks or gets blocked
  • struggle = fight
  • stubbornness = when you do not change your mind even if other people  think you are wrong
  • substantial refund = money that you get back because you think you have paid too much
  • tax cut = to reduce  the money people have to pay to the government
  • union = organization formed by workers to protect their rights
  • unpopular = not liked
  • unsatisfied = not glad, unhappy
  • unsuccessfully = without success
  • victory = win