Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher LG, OM, PC, FRS (born 13 October 1925) is a retired British politician. She was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990 and Leader of the Conservative Party from 1975 to 1990. She is the only woman to have held either post.
Born in Grantham in Lincolnshire, England, she went on to read chemistry at Somerville College, Oxford and train as a barrister. She won a seat as an MP from Finchley in 1959, as a Conservative. When Edward Heath formed a government in 1970, he appointed Thatcher as Secretary of State for Education and Science. Four years later, she backed Keith Joseph in his bid to become Conservative party leader, but he was forced to drop out of the election; Thatcher felt that Heath's government had lost direction, so she entered the contest herself and became leader of the Conservative party in 1975. As the Conservative party maintained leads in most polls, Thatcher went on to become Britain's Prime Minister in the 1979 general election.
Thatcher entered 10 Downing Street with a mandate to reverse the UK's economic decline. Her political philosophy and economic policies emphasised reduced state intervention, free markets, entrepreneurialism and the selling off of state owned companies. She gained much support after the 1982 Falklands War and was re-elected the following year. Thatcher took a hard line against trade unions, survived an assassination attempt, and opposed the Soviet Union (her tough-talking rhetoric gained her the nickname the "Iron Lady"); she was re-elected for an unprecedented third term in 1987. The following years would prove difficult, as her Community Charge plan was largely unpopular, and her views regarding the European Community were not shared by others in her Cabinet. She resigned as Prime Minister in November 1990 after Michael Heseltine's challenge to her leadership of the Conservative Party.