Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher, LG, OM, PC, FRS (née Roberts; born 13 October 1925) is a former Conservative Prime Minister of the United Kingdom who served from 1979 to 1990.
Born in Grantham, Lincolnshire, Thatcher studied chemistry at Somerville College, Oxford before qualifying as a barrister. In the 1959 general election she became MP for Finchley. Edward Heath appointed Thatcher Secretary of State for Education and Science in his 1970 government. In 1975 she was elected Leader of the Conservative Party, the first woman to head a major UK political party, and in 1979 she became the UK's first (and thus far, only) female 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. 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 survived an assassination attempt in 1984, and her hard line against trade unions and tough rhetoric in opposition to the Soviet Union earned her the nickname of the "Iron Lady". 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.