On April 8, Margaret Thatcher, the first woman prime minister of the United Kingdom (UK), passed away. She was 87 years old. She headed the UK from 1979 to 1990.
The prime minister of the UK is the head of the government. The head of the country is the King or Queen of the UK (currently, it is Queen Elizabeth II). The Prime Minister is not directly chosen by the people. Instead, UK’s citizens vote and elect over 600 people belonging to various political parties to become “members of Parliament”. Usually, the leader of the political party with the most members of Parliament is assigned to be the prime minister. David Cameron is the current prime minister of the UK.
Thatcher was given the title of “the Iron Lady”. She had a reputation of being firm and sticking by her decisions even if they were not liked by others. The world had mixed views about her; some loved her, and others did not. She brought about many changes in the United Kingdom. She took some state-owned industries (industries controlled and owned by the government), such as the electricity, gas, and water supply industries, and made them private. Privatization of industries can help bring in competition and improve the way things are done. She reduced the power of the trade union leaders. Income tax rates were lowered. She reduced the money spent by the local government. Some people lost jobs because of her changes. Under her leadership, the UK and Argentina had a short war over the Falkland Islands in 1982. The Falkland Islands are a group of islands near the southern tip of South America that are a territory of the UK, but are claimed by Argentina. She became unpopular within her own political party and resigned from the post of prime minister in 1990.
In 1973, Thatcher said, “I don’t think there will be a woman prime minister in my lifetime.” She proved herself wrong 6 years later. A movie called “The Iron Lady” was made about her life in 2011.
Did you know?
The prime minister of the United Kingdom lives in a home on 10 Downing Street in London, the capital of the UK. (see image)
Did you know?
Elizabeth II is the Queen of the UK. The next in line is her son Prince Charles followed by his son Prince William.
Image Credits: Margaret Thatcher Foundation for Thatcher’s image