tagged w/ thatcher
London (CNN) -- Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, a towering figure in postwar British and world politics and the only woman to become British prime minister, has died at the age of 87.
She suffered a stroke Monday, her spokeswoman said.
Thatcher's funeral will be at St. Paul's Cathedral, with full military honors, followed by a private cremation, the British prime minister's office announced.
Thatcher served from 1975 to 1990 as leader of the Conservative Party. She was called the "Iron Lady" for her personal and political toughness.
She retired from public life after a stroke in 2002 and suffered several strokes after that.
Thatcher: I enjoyed company of elders
2009: Inside Margaret Thatcher's papers
She made few public appearances in her final months, missing a reception marking her 85th birthday hosted by Prime Minister David Cameron in October 2010. She also skipped the July 2011 unveiling of a statue honoring her old friend Ronald Reagan in London.
In December 2012, she was hospitalized after a procedure to remove a growth in her bladder.
Thatcher made history
Thatcher won the nation's top job only six years after declaring in a television interview, "I don't think there will be a woman prime minister in my lifetime."
During her time at the helm of the British government, she emphasized moral absolutism, nationalism, and the rights of the individual versus those of the state -- famously declaring "There is no such thing as society" in 1987.
Nicknamed the "Iron Lady" by the Soviet press after a 1976 speech declaring that "the Russians are bent on world dominance," Thatcher later enjoyed a close working relationship with U.S. President Reagan, with whom she shared similar conservative views.
But the British cold warrior played a key role in ending the conflict by giving her stamp of approval to Soviet Communist reformer Mikhail Gorbachev shortly before he came to power.
"I like Mr. Gorbachev. We can do business together," she declared in December 1984, three months before he became Soviet leader.
Having been right about Gorbachev, Thatcher came down on the wrong side of history after the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, arguing against the reunification of East and West Germany.
Allowing the countries created in the aftermath of World War II to merge would be destabilizing to the European status quo, and East Germany was not ready to become part of Western Europe, she insisted in January 1990.
READ: Why Thatcher was both icon and outcast
"East Germany has been under Nazism or Communism since 1930. You are not going to go overnight to democratic structures and a freer market economy," Thatcher insisted in a key interview, arguing that peace, security and stability "can only be achieved through our existing alliances negotiating with others internationally."
West German leader Helmut Kohl was furious about the interview, seeing Thatcher as a "protector of Gobachev," according to notes made that day by his close aide Horst Teltschik.
The two Germanies reunited by the end of that year.
A grocer's daughter
Thatcher -- born in October 1925 in the small eastern England market town of Grantham -- came from a modest background, taking pride in being known as a grocer's daughter. She studied chemistry at Oxford, but was involved in politics from a young age, giving her first political speech at 20, according to her official biography.
She was elected leader of the Conservative Party in 1975, when the party was in opposition.
She made history four years later, becoming prime minister when the Conservatives won the elections of 1979, the first of three election victories to which she led her party.
As British leader, Thatcher took a firm stance with the European Community -- the forerunner of the European Union -- demanding a rebate of money London contributed to Brussels.
Her positions on other issues, both domestic and foreign, were just as firm, and in one of her most famous phrases, she declared at a Conservative Party conference that she had no intention of changing her mind.
"To those waiting with bated breath for that favorite media catchphrase, the U-turn, I have only one thing to say: 'You turn if you want to. The lady's not for turning,'" she declared, to cheers from party members.
The United Kingdom fought a short, sharp war against Argentina over the Falklands Islands under Thatcher in 1982, responding with force when Buenos Aires laid claim to the islands.
WATCH: Remembering Margaret Thatcher
Announcing that Britain had recaptured South Georgia Island from Argentina, Thatcher appealed to nationalist sentiments, advising the press: "Just rejoice at the news and congratulate our forces."
A journalist shouted a question at her as she turned to go back into 10 Downing Street: "Are we going to war with Argentina, Mrs. Thatcher?"
She paused for an instant, then offered a single word: "Rejoice."
Controversy over Falklands war
The conflict was not without controversy, even in Britain.
A British submarine sank Argentina's only cruiser, the General Belgrano, in an encounter that left 358 Argentines dead. The sinking took place outside of Britain's declared exclusion zone.
In her first term, Thatcher reduced or eliminated many government subsidies to business, a move that led to a sharp rise in unemployment. By 1986, unemployment had reached 3 million.
But Thatcher won landslide re-election in 1983 on the heels of the Falklands victory, her Conservative Party taking a majority of seats in parliament with 42% of the vote. Second-place Labour took nearly 28%, while the alliance that became the Liberal Democrats took just over 25%.
A year later, she escaped an IRA terrorist bombing at her hotel at the Conservative Party conference in Brighton.
She was re-elected in 1987 with a slightly reduced majority.
She was ultimately brought down, not by British voters, but by her own Conservative party.
WATCH: Kissinger: Thatcher's strong convictions
Brought down by the poll tax
She was forced to resign in 1990 during an internal leadership struggle after she introduced a poll tax levied on community residents rather than property.
The unpopular tax led to rioting in the streets.
She married her husband, Denis Thatcher, a local businessman who ran his family's firm before becoming an executive in the oil industry, in 1951 -- a year after an unsuccessful run for Parliament. The couple had twins, Mark and Carol, in 1953.
She was elected to Parliament in 1959 and served in various positions, including education secretary, until her terms as prime minister.
Thatcher was awarded the U.S. Medal of Freedom by President George H. W. Bush in 1991, a year after she stepped down as prime minister. She was named Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven after leaving office.
She retired from public life after a stroke in 2002 and suffered several smaller strokes after that. Her husband died in June 2003.
Though her doctors advised against public speaking, a frail Thatcher attended Reagan's 2004 funeral, saying in a prerecorded video that Reagan was "a great president, a great American, and a great man."
"And I have lost a dear friend," she said.
In the years that followed she encountered additional turmoil. In 2004, her son Mark was arrested in an investigation of an alleged plot by mercenaries to overthrow the president of Equatorial Guinea in west Africa. He pleaded guilty in a South African court in 2005 to unwittingly bankrolling the plot.
CNN's Laura Perez Maestro, Vicky Bennett and Nick Hunt contributed to this report.
http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/08/world/europe/uk-margaret-thatcher-dead/index.htmlLondon (CNN) -- Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, a towering figure in... more
What a tragic wasted opportunity to present a true portrait of the Iron Lady | Stewart Lee | Comment is free | The ObserverStewart Lee
The Observer, Sunday 15 January 2012
I have been too busy to see The Iron Lady (which I assumed was a distaff spin-off from Marvel's Iron Man), but none the less, I am now about to use it as a lead-in to discussing the critical rehabilitation of Margaret Thatcher. I did, however, find time to watch Troll Hunter last week, an enormous metaphor for Norwegian national identity, which engaged more critically with Norway's mythologised past than The Iron Lady does with ours. I expect. I haven't seen The Iron Lady, as I said.
Phyllida Lloyd's Thatcher biopic includes some daring sight gags employing the literal snatching of milk, but softens the controversial prime minister's legacy. The sympathetic figure of the ageing Maggie is played, by all accounts brilliantly, by the always excellent Glenn Close, her micro-managed Hollywood features magically transformed by hours of painstaking make-up into those of a normal-looking British woman. The old Thatcher remembers her career and divisive and unpalatable riots and strikes and wars acquire an inevitable multiplex gloss.
I have two similarly market-skewed biopics in production, both featuring Oscar-coveting actresses in disfiguring prosthetics, both factually tweaked to avoid punter alienation. In The Meat Man, the elderly Jesus (Meryl Streep) sits in Heaven remembering when lovely wise kings gave the young Jesus (Glenn Close) presents, his outrageous egalitarian teachings forgotten. In Der Fleischmensch, the elderly Hitler (Meryl Streep) sits in his Berlin bunker, recalling his struggles to be taken seriously as a young landscape artist (Glenn Close), the problematic Nazi years now merely light comic relief.
Conveniently, the appearance in the National Archives this month of secret Thatcher-era documents, revealing some surprising moments of sensitivity, has come at a good time for improving perceptions of the Iron Lady and the current Conservative party, both of which, despite undeniably strong performances from their charismatic leads, have suffered at the hands of critics, and are unlikely to spawn long-running franchises.
In the light of these documents, Thatcher has been praised for not agreeing to the "managed decline" of Liverpool, proposed by 80s colleagues. Here, we see the soft heart of Margaret the Woman, the tear-stained blouse of Maggie the Mum. I believe countries should be run like small businesses, and just as one would close down a loss-making shop or sack a sickly employee, so unprofitable towns and their unproductive citizens should be let go also. But Thatcher the maternal metal mother chose to view the feckless Liverpudlians somehow as legitimate stakeholders in their nation, deserving of the support of their own government, and she would not cast them out into the Wirral, to smelt stolen road signs, spit and form heroically self-regarding and influential neo-psychedelic groups.
There are many revelations in the released documents that appear with hindsight to show Thatcher implementing unambiguously brilliant and pragmatic strategies. Much has been made of how, despite the terrifying reality of their threats to her, she nevertheless "opened the back door for negotiations with the IRA" and initiated the peace process that Tony Blair took credit for. I went to the Public Record Office to scour the documents.
Oddly, the idea of opening the back door for negotiations with the IRA never appears in the body of any of the cabinet transcripts themselves, but only in the margins of Thatcher's personal parliamentary briefings. Here, the phrase "open the back door for negotiations with the IRA" is written in Thatcher's own hand, often underlined, or followed by mass exclamation marks, as if to remind the femme ferrous that she must follow up the idea later. And yet there never seems to be any obvious relationship between the idea of opening the back door for negotiations with the IRA and the content of the printed texts the handwritten recommendations append.
I checked the dates. Thatcher writes "open the back door for negotiations with the IRA" on documents dated 31 March 1982, 2 May 1982, 9 February 1985, 3 March 1985, 19 July 1987, 24 May 1988, and every 10 May, or the Friday nearest to it, throughout. On the first six dates, respectively, terrorist Nelson Mandela was moved out of sight to Pollsmoor prison; the Argentinian warship the General Belgrano was torpedoed outside the Falklands exclusion zone with the loss of 323 lives; Russ Abbott's haunting pop single "Atmosphere" peaked at number 7 in the UK chart; the miners' strike ended; Nick Faldo claimed victory in the Open; and the anti-gay Section 28 legislation was passed. All these events would have been causes for celebration either for Margaret Thatcher herself (Russ Abbott fan), for her husband Denis (left-handed golfer) or for both Thatchers (known rightwingers).
The significance of 10 May was more confusing, until good old Wikipedia revealed it to be the date of Denis Thatcher's birthday. Despite the attempts of oxymoronic contemporary Tory feminists to appropriate her, Margaret Thatcher was a traditionally dutiful and obedient wife. Was "opening the back door for negotiations with the IRA" a code for some kind of treat for Denis, who attended a nonconformist public school, or did it really refer to clandestine attempts to lubricate republican relations? And did it explain Thatcher's intermittently unusual walk, which her biographer, Charles Moore, famously described as a "dignified scuttle"?
The implication that these "back-door negotiations with the IRA" occurred on days of celebration for the two happy Thatchers, humanises Maggie in a way that Glenn Close's, admittedly uncannily accurate, impersonation of the woman simply does not. Lloyd draws a discreet sheet over Thatcher's back-door negotiations and concentrates instead on visual puns about milk. Sadly, in hindsight, Lloyd must realise that The Iron Lady would surely have earned more than its usual two- or three-star reviews if only she and Glenn Close had shown the courage to bring Thatcher's back-door negotiations to the silver screen in detail, perhaps in 3D. But in preserving untarnished the cast-iron enigma of Margaret Thatcher, this stainless-steel sister, this un-fatigued metal maiden, Lloyd ensures the legend of this particular Iron Lady will never rust.Stewart Lee The Observer, Sunday 15 January 2012 I have been too busy to see The... more
WARNING: Due to the Highly Controversial Nature of this article, it is recommended that you do not read this article, if you have a hard time accepting original ideas. The truth can hurt you, but it can also set you free:
” A newspaper is a device for making the ignorant more ignorant and the crazy crazier. ”
- H. L. Mencken
http://anarchadia.com/2011/12/10/the-truth-about-ron-paul/WARNING: Due to the Highly Controversial Nature of this article, it is recommended... more
President Obama and PM Cameron liken themselves to Reagan and Thatcher as far as their personal efforts to bring peace to the middle east.
http://content.usatoday.com/communities/theoval/post/2011/05/Obama-Cameron-liken-Arab-spring-to-Cold-War-171548/1President Obama and PM Cameron liken themselves to Reagan and Thatcher as far as their... more
Thirty years ago this day - another walk in the woods, another day in the park - a few more gray hairs in the process.Thirty years ago this day - another walk in the woods, another day in the park - a few... more
Newly-released documents have revealed the UK's "special relationship" with the US was under strain at the height of the Northern Ireland Troubles.
The National Archives files show the murder of Lord Mountbatten by the IRA in 1979 did not prompt the response from the US that the UK had hoped for.
While president Jimmy Carter expressed his "profound sadness" at the death, he made no reference to terrorism.Newly-released documents have revealed the UK's "special relationship"... more
Japan was asked not to greet Britain's first female prime minister with a security escort of 20 "karate ladies", newly-released government papers show.
Margaret Thatcher visited Tokyo for an economic summit in June 1979 - a month after winning the general election.
After Japanese officials confirmed the "karate ladies" story, the Lord Privy Seal wrote to the Foreign office.
He said Mrs Thatcher wanted "to be treated in exactly the same manner" as other leaders and not "singled out".
The letter, written on 21 May 1979, is among government papers released by the National Archives under the 30-year rule.Japan was asked not to greet Britain's first female prime minister with a... more