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Significant Lives

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Former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher Passes into History

April 8th 2013

Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan

Former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher has died "peacefully" at the age of 87 after suffering a stroke, according to her family. Current Prime Minister David Cameron called her a "great Briton," while Queen Elizabeth conveyed her sadness at the death of the former leader. Foreign Minister William Hague spoke of Thatcher as a “remarkable” leader who “saved” the United Kingdom and gave hope to the peoples behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War.

Thatcher was born in 1925 in Grantham, Lincolnshire, that daughter of a grocer and local alderman. She was married to businessman Dennis Thatcher with whom she had two children.

Thatcher was Conservative prime minister from 1979 to 1990. She was the first woman to hold the role. While she will not be accorded a state funeral, Thatcher will be given the same status as Princess Diana and the mother of Queen Elizabeth. The funeral will take place, with full military honors, will take place this weekend at London’s iconic St. Paul’s Cathedral. The Union Jack above Prime Minister Cameron’s 10 Downing Street residence has been lowered to half-mast.

Prime Minister Cameron, who is conducting meetings in Madrid, has cancelled talks scheduled in Paris with France’s Socialist President Francois Hollande. He will return to the UK today.

Labour leader Ed Miliband paid tribute to Thatcher, saying that his party is suspending partisan activities to mark the nation’s mourning for the former prime minister and to “show respect.” Miliband credited Thatcher for “forming” him, like Prime Minister Cameron, as a politician. Miliband gave credit to Thatcher, saying she was “An extraordinary strong political figure, who shaped political events.”

Sir John Major, a former prime minister, said in an interview with the BBC said that Thatcher was precisely the "right leader for the time." He credited her for transforming Britain's economy from a "neo-socialist" model to a capitalist one. He added that Thatcher casts a long shadow over Britain, having "brought back conviction to politics" and changed the country's self-perception.

President Barack Obama conveyed his condolences to the British people, saying that the United States has lost a “true friend.” Obama said, "As an unapologetic supporter of our transatlantic alliance, she knew that with strength and resolve we could win the Cold War and extend freedom's promise.”

"Here in America, many of us will never forget her standing shoulder to shoulder with President Reagan, reminding the world that we are not simply carried along by the currents of history - we can shape them with moral conviction, unyielding courage and iron will. "

He continued, "the world has lost one of the great champions of freedom and liberty, and America has lost a true friend".
Obama said that Thatcher’s example "shows our daughters" there is no glass ceiling that cannot be shattered. He added, "As prime minister, she helped restore the confidence and pride that has always been the hallmark of Britain at its best".
Thatcher’s government is remembered for her close relationship with President Ronald Reagan. During her term, Thatcher’s government privatized several state-owned industries and was involved in a year-long stand-off with unions during the Miners' Strike of 1984-5. She was also in power when the UK fought a war following Argentina's invasion of the Falkland Islands in 1982.  Thatcher is also seen to be a prime mover in the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, along with Pope John Paul II and President Reagan.

Thatcher survived an assassination attempt in 1984, when the IRA bombed the Brighton Grand Hotel, where she was staying for the Conservative Party's annual conference. In her later years in office, Thatcher became associated with so-called Euro-skeptics. After winning three general elections, Thatcher stood down in 1990 after she failed to beat Michael Heseltine by enough votes to prevent his leadership challenge going into a second round. Before entering politics, Thatcher worked as a research chemist and barrister.

Cutting Edge correspondent Martin Barillas also edits Speroforum.com

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