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The Leadership of Margaret Thatcher Essay

Once known as the most unpopular woman in Britain, Margaret Thatcher revived a nation that was in a state of chaos. She was the first woman elected Prime Minister of the country and the only in the 20th century to serve three consecutive terms which was the longest since 1827. Through her extraordinary vision she brought forth radical changes, not just in her country but worldwide. She had a profound and permanent impact on politics and even changed her own Conservative Parties outlook. Through challenging all ideas that were commonplace, she set a catalyst movement for the end of the twentieth century. Her groundbreaking views on monetarism and privatization manifested into one of Britain’s biggest contributions to political economics in the world. Transforming a defunct socialist society would prove no easy feat for this revolutionist, but through a unique turn of events a leader rises.

Margaret Thatcher was born on October 13, 1925 in Grantham Lincolnshire, England. She was the daughter of Alfred Roberts, a grocer who held several political positions in the community. He emphasized hard work and education, which undeniably led to the early formation of Margaret’s view of the state surrounding her. She attended the Somerville College and worked her way up to Oxford University where she earned two degrees in chemistry and law, also earning a Master of Arts degree. While at Oxford she became the first woman president of the Oxford Conservative Association, which would prove to be a many of her firsts.

After graduating school she worked briefly as a research chemist for a plastics company in Essex, but her heart was in politics. In December 1951, she married Dennis Thatcher a successful owner of a chemical company. After the birth of her twins in 1953, she hired a nanny, and was able to devote all her time to her true passion. In 1950 she ran unsuccessfully for Parliament, although she did increase the Conservative Party vote by fifty percent in her district. It wasn’t until 1959 that she became successful in her endeavors.

On her second attempt at age thirty-two Mrs. Thatcher landed a seat in Parliament representing Finchley in north London under Harold Macmillan, one of the best Tory seats in the country. Known for her quick mind and fast mouth she soon moved up in the party ranks. Aggressive and strong-willed from 1964 to 1970 she was the front bench spokesman and was often called upon to debate the issues against the opposition of the Labour Party. She served as joint parliamentary secretary to the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance from 1961 to 1964, at age 44 she was shuffled into the “typical woman’s ” place in the cabinet as Education Minister from 1970 to 1974.

During her reign as Education Minister she quickly sparked many controversies. She was not well received amongst the British people. She was given the unfortunate task of having to cut the school budget and she chose to eliminate the free milk program and was comically known as “Thatcher, Milk Snatcher”. Being the sole woman in the cabinet, Margaret quickly flourished through the ranks. Her role as Education Minister was the only cabinet position served before she became Prime Minister.

Through a series of events that all worked in her favor Margaret became leader of the Conservative Party in 1975, after she challenged her successor. It was a surprise to many that she was triumphant. She began working on her revolutionary ideas of changing the political society right away vowing to reverse Britain’s economic decline. But it wasn’t until 1979 that the Tories gained control over the cabinet and she was installed as Prime Minister.

As most “dictators” rise to power during a time of chaos so was the case of this woman whose ideas were not new but came along, when under the circumstances the people were willing to cooperate. As a leader she was harsh with a domineering personality and spent the first years of her term getting rid of the “weak links” of the cabinet. If you were overly cautious or unwilling to accept her ideals there was no place for you in her scheme. She was quoted as saying ” I am extremely patient, provided I get my own way in the end”, which would explain her autocratic leadership style.

The use of full cabinets was lower than any prime minister before her. She frequently called sub-cabinets, which were a select few members to make decisions on important issues of the countries fate. These committees did not consult with the balance of the cabinet on decisions being made and ultimately compromised what is the most important role of government.

As prime minister, her administration was marked by a multitude of difficulties. In order for her to implement changes she had to first dismantle the plague that had settled and left Britain in much need of economic resuscitation. Britain’s relative economic decline was attributed to the post war settlement and the out of control trade unions that had destroyed three governments before her. Once Thatcher convinced the majority of the parliament that this was a major problem, and that the nation was very anti-union, she was able to mandate strict union privileges, by a series of laws that effectively terminated their dominance over Britain. Her main goal upon entering office was to reverse the socialism that had done great harm, and she quickly discovered that every area of the economy was now open to judicious reform. But she commenced office upon a dismal economic scene that would only get worse.

Throughout all three terms she pursued economic policies that decreased public spending, increased personal tax cuts, increased privatization of public utilities, bankruptcies resulted from her efforts to curb inflation and deregulated industry. However, in all her programs she was less than successful, it produced high unemployment which tripled during her first two terms to almost three million. High interest rates and increased class differentiation, as well as the growth of the underclass created hostility. Her enemies included the traditional leaders of the conservative party and public school educated members of the aristocracy.

The aim was to reduce the role of the government and increase self-reliance. She introduced “rate capping” which effectively took control of expenditures out of the hands of city councils, which reduced the power of local government. The harsh monetary policy was needed to bring down inflation but was highly damaging to business and created a deep recession.

Upon entering office, income tax was cut immediately, representing an important shift from direct to indirect taxation. The tax rate in the top earning tier was cut significantly more than in the medium-earning band, leading critics to believe she preferred the rich. Persons in the wealthy top ten percent incomes grew about forty percent more during her terms and the bottom ten percent grew about three percent. A poll tax was introduced in 1990 as the government flagship policy replacing the property tax. It was very unpopular in Britain and its opposition ultimately led to her demise. Riots broke out throughout the country in London and Wales in protest of the new tax.

Under Mrs. Thatcher Britain was the pioneer in a global wave of privatization-the sale of state-owned industries. By the mid 1980’s, privatization was a new term in government, and by the end of the decade more than 50 countries, had set in motion privatization programs. Governments sent administrative and legal teams to Britain to study how it was done. British Airways would prove a success once privatized, barely known to make a profit it turned into one of the world’s most competitive airlines. This distant aspiration had become the backbone of the economic strategy.

However many criticisms were made of the policy for the large job cuts deemed necessary to improve the industries performance. When she took office there were three million shareholders and when she resigned there were over eleven million. But she was known for her actions and she had the courage to carry out a bold economic experiment, which perhaps is her countries biggest contribution to practical economics in the world.

Thatcher came into office with little experience or knowledge of foreign affairs. She was strong on her views of anti-communism and very pro-Americanism. A soviet paper sarcastically gave her the famous title as the “Iron Lady” after she publicly denounced the Russians as failures in a speech. This did not offend her, yet she chose to adopt the title, believing it outlined the purpose and strength of her crusade. Extending her firm hand into foreign relations, she helped Rhodesia establish independence in 1980 after a civil war between black nationalists and white settlers. The British took seizure of the Falkland Islands from Argentina in 1982, after she dispatched her Royal Navy out to the South Atlantic to confiscate the land.

With a high risk of failure, the government’s decisions were once again under a microscope. Her firm handling and courage in the war saved her from the unpopularity of her first term. She displayed her best quality of fortitude, and her decisiveness awakened patriotism amongst the people and she used this to bolster domestic support at a time of widespread dissatisfaction with her economic policies. This victory led to her landslide re-election in 1983.

Her and President Reagan formed a strong transatlantic cooperation between the United States and Britain. American intelligence support proved invaluable in the defeat of Argentina. They were each other’s strongest allies and had many of the same views on domestic and foreign policies especially when it came to the Soviet Union. They both applied judicious pressure on Mikhail Gorbachev and the Soviet state to encourage it to reform or abolish altogether. Together with Reagan they had a hand in the dissolving of Russian communism.

By the end of the decade Thatcher’s revolution was largely in place. The economy has begun to grow but after what many vied as excessive cost She was elected to her third term due to a short upturn in the economy. Controversy over her tax policy and her reluctance to commit Britain to full economic integration with Europe led to many resignations amongst her cabinet. She believed it would pose a threat to the economic success that her government had achieved in the previous decade. Ironically, it had the opposite effect and caused her to lose tremendous support. Eventually she would be challenged for power and instead of suffering a humiliating defeat she resigned in 1990.

Once known as the most unpopular woman in Britain, Margaret Thatcher revived a nation that was in a state of chaos. She was the first woman elected Prime Minister of the country and the only in the 20th century to serve three consecutive terms which was the longest since 1827. Through her extraordinary vision she brought forth radical changes, not just in her country but worldwide. She had a profound and permanent impact on politics and even changed her own Conservative Parties outlook. Through challenging all ideas that were commonplace, she set a catalyst movement for the end of the twentieth century. Her groundbreaking views on monetarism and privatization manifested into one of Britain’s biggest contributions to political economics in the world. Transforming a defunct socialist society would prove no easy feat for this revolutionist, but through a unique turn of events a leader rises.

Margaret Thatcher was born on October 13, 1925 in Grantham Lincolnshire, England. She was the daughter of Alfred Roberts, a grocer who held several political positions in the community. He emphasized hard work and education, which undeniably led to the early formation of Margaret’s view of the state surrounding her. She attended the Somerville College and worked her way up to Oxford University where she earned two degrees in chemistry and law, also earning a Master of Arts degree. While at Oxford she became the first woman president of the Oxford Conservative Association, which would prove to be a many of her firsts.

After graduating school she worked briefly as a research chemist for a plastics company in Essex, but her heart was in politics. In December 1951, she married Dennis Thatcher a successful owner of a chemical company. After the birth of her twins in 1953, she hired a nanny, and was able to devote all her time to her true passion. In 1950 she ran unsuccessfully for Parliament, although she did increase the Conservative Party vote by fifty percent in her district. It wasn’t until 1959 that she became successful in her endeavors.

On her second attempt at age thirty-two Mrs. Thatcher landed a seat in Parliament representing Finchley in north London under Harold Macmillan, one of the best Tory seats in the country. Known for her quick mind and fast mouth she soon moved up in the party ranks. Aggressive and strong-willed from 1964 to 1970 she was the front bench spokesman and was often called upon to debate the issues against the opposition of the Labour Party. She served as joint parliamentary secretary to the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance from 1961 to 1964, at age 44 she was shuffled into the “typical woman’s ” place in the cabinet as Education Minister from 1970 to 1974.

During her reign as Education Minister she quickly sparked many controversies. She was not well received amongst the British people. She was given the unfortunate task of having to cut the school budget and she chose to eliminate the free milk program and was comically known as “Thatcher, Milk Snatcher”. Being the sole woman in the cabinet, Margaret quickly flourished through the ranks. Her role as Education Minister was the only cabinet position served before she became Prime Minister.

Through a series of events that all worked in her favor Margaret became leader of the Conservative Party in 1975, after she challenged her successor. It was a surprise to many that she was triumphant. She began working on her revolutionary ideas of changing the political society right away vowing to reverse Britain’s economic decline. But it wasn’t until 1979 that the Tories gained control over the cabinet and she was installed as Prime Minister.

As most “dictators” rise to power during a time of chaos so was the case of this woman whose ideas were not new but came along, when under the circumstances the people were willing to cooperate. As a leader she was harsh with a domineering personality and spent the first years of her term getting rid of the “weak links” of the cabinet. If you were overly cautious or unwilling to accept her ideals there was no place for you in her scheme. She was quoted as saying ” I am extremely patient, provided I get my own way in the end”, which would explain her autocratic leadership style. The use of full cabinets was lower than any prime minister before her. She frequently called sub-cabinets, which were a select few members to make decisions on important issues of the countries fate. These committees did not consult with the balance of the cabinet on decisions being made and ultimately compromised what is the most important role of government.

As prime minister, her administration was marked by a multitude of difficulties. In order for her to implement changes she had to first dismantle the plague that had settled and left Britain in much need of economic resuscitation. Britain’s relative economic decline was attributed to the post war settlement and the out of control trade unions that had destroyed three governments before her. Once Thatcher convinced the majority of the parliament that this was a major problem, and that the nation was very anti-union, she was able to mandate strict union privileges, by a series of laws that effectively terminated their dominance over Britain. Her main goal upon entering office was to reverse the socialism that had done great harm, and she quickly discovered that every area of the economy was now open to judicious reform. But she commenced office upon a dismal economic scene that would only get worse.

Throughout all three terms she pursued economic policies that decreased public spending, increased personal tax cuts, increased privatization of public utilities, bankruptcies resulted from her efforts to curb inflation and deregulated industry. However, in all her programs she was less than successful, it produced high unemployment which tripled during her first two terms to almost three million. High interest rates and increased class differentiation, as well as the growth of the underclass created hostility. Her enemies included the traditional leaders of the conservative party and public school educated members of the aristocracy. The aim was to reduce the role of the government and increase self-reliance. She introduced “rate capping” which effectively took control of expenditures out of the hands of city councils, which reduced the power of local government. The harsh monetary policy was needed to bring down inflation but was highly damaging to business and created a deep recession.

Upon entering office, income tax was cut immediately, representing an important shift from direct to indirect taxation. The tax rate in the top earning tier was cut significantly more than in the medium-earning band, leading critics to believe she preferred the rich. Persons in the wealthy top ten percent incomes grew about forty percent more during her terms and the bottom ten percent grew about three percent. A poll tax was introduced in 1990 as the government flagship policy replacing the property tax. It was very unpopular in Britain and its opposition ultimately led to her demise. Riots broke out throughout the country in London and Wales in protest of the new tax.

Under Mrs. Thatcher Britain was the pioneer in a global wave of privatization-the sale of state-owned industries. By the mid 1980’s, privatization was a new term in government, and by the end of the decade more than 50 countries, had set in motion privatization programs. Governments sent administrative and legal teams to Britain to study how it was done. British Airways would prove a success once privatized, barely known to make a profit it turned into one of the world’s most competitive airlines. This distant aspiration had become the backbone of the economic strategy.

However many criticisms were made of the policy for the large job cuts deemed necessary to improve the industries performance. When she took office there were three million shareholders and when she resigned there were over eleven million. But she was known for her actions and she had the courage to carry out a bold economic experiment, which perhaps is her countries biggest contribution to practical economics in the world.

Thatcher came into office with little experience or knowledge of foreign affairs. She was strong on her views of anti-communism and very pro-Americanism. A soviet paper sarcastically gave her the famous title as the “Iron Lady” after she publicly denounced the Russians as failures in a speech. This did not offend her, yet she chose to adopt the title, believing it outlined the purpose and strength of her crusade. Extending her firm hand into foreign relations, she helped Rhodesia establish independence in 1980 after a civil war between black nationalists and white settlers. The British took seizure of the Falkland Islands from Argentina in 1982, after she dispatched her Royal Navy out to the South Atlantic to confiscate the land.

With a high risk of failure, the government’s decisions were once again under a microscope. Her firm handling and courage in the war saved her from the unpopularity of her first term. She displayed her best quality of fortitude, and her decisiveness awakened patriotism amongst the people and she used this to bolster domestic support at a time of widespread dissatisfaction with her economic policies. This victory led to her landslide re-election in 1983.

Her and President Reagan formed a strong transatlantic cooperation between the United States and Britain. American intelligence support proved invaluable in the defeat of Argentina. They were each other’s strongest allies and had many of the same views on domestic and foreign policies especially when it came to the Soviet Union. They both applied judicious pressure on Mikhail Gorbachev and the Soviet state to encourage it to reform or abolish altogether. Together with Reagan they had a hand in the dissolving of Russian communism.

By the end of the decade Thatcher’s revolution was largely in place. The economy has begun to grow but after what many vied as excessive cost She was elected to her third term due to a short upturn in the economy. Controversy over her tax policy and her reluctance to commit Britain to full economic integration with Europe led to many resignations amongst her cabinet. She believed it would pose a threat to the economic success that her government had achieved in the previous decade. Ironically, it had the opposite effect and caused her to lose tremendous support. Eventually she would be challenged for power and instead of suffering a humiliating defeat she resigned in 1990.


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