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April 8, 2013

15 Vintage Photos of Margaret Thatcher as a Young Woman in the 1950s

Britain’s first and only female Prime Minister Margaret Hilda Thatcher has died at the age of 87 after suffering a stroke. Lady Thatcher’s children Mark and Carol said their mother, who suffered bouts of ill health in recent years, died peacefully on Monday morning.

Margaret Thatcher was Britain’s first female prime minister (1979-90). She was known for her tough uncompromising, conservative political views, and became dubbed as ‘The Iron Lady’. On the UK domestic front she instituted many free market reforms, implemented the controversial poll tax and reduced the power of trades unions. In international affairs, she cultivated a close relationship with American President Ronald Reagan and also developed a working relationship with Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev as the Cold War drew to a close.

Mrs Thatcher was elected Prime Minister in the Conservative landslide of 1979. She wasted no time in introducing controversial economic policies. She believed that a strict implementation of Monetarism was necessary to overcome the economic ills of inflation and low growth, which she blamed on the previous Labour government. However, although she was successful in reducing inflation, deflationary monetary policies caused a serious economic recession, in which unemployment rose to 3 million. Opinion was strongly against many of her policies. In a famous letter to the Times newspaper, 360 economists wrote a letter arguing the government should change its policies immediately. However, in true Thatcher style, she refused. Instead, she stood up at the Conservative party conference and stated: “You turn if you want to, but this lady is not for turning.” It was characteristic of her whole premiership – fierce in her beliefs and unwavering in her commitment.

Because of her declining popularity, she was eventually forced out as leader of the party and PM in 1990. Although she was bitter about her perceived betrayal, she left an unprecedented mark on the UK economic and political landscape. For good or ill, she changed the British economic and political situation. In particular, Thatcher marked a break with ‘One Nation Conservatism’ and the post-war consensus.

It is ironic that when Labour eventually regained power in 1997, it was largely due to the fact Tony Blair and new Labour took on board many of the economic policies that Mrs Thatcher had initiated. There was often a mutual respect between Mrs Thatcher and Tony Blair.

Below are some vintage pictures of the former Prime Minister, from her youth in the 1950s.

Born Margaret Hilda Roberts in 1925, pictured aged 20, with her parents and sister Muriel (left).

Aged 24. While campaigning as the youngest and only female candidate for the Tory seat in Dartford, Kent, Margaret Roberts worked as a research chemist.

Aged 24. Margaret Roberts consults a parliamentary refence book with a colleague during her time campaigning. 

Aged 25. Planning her election campaign for Dartford, Kent.

Aged 25. Meeting potential constituents.

Aged 25. Wiping dishes.

Aged 25. Accompanying four voters on the piano at the Bull Inn, Dartford.

Aged 25. Attending a garden party at Buckingham Palace.

Aged 25. Shopping in Dartford, Kent.

Aged 26. At Tory HQ while campaigning for the Dartford, Kent seat.

Aged 26. Pictured during a canvassing tour for the Dartford, Kent seat the following year.

Aged 26. Pictured with her fiance Denis Thatcher (1915 - 2003).

Aged 26. Pictured with fiance Denis Thatcher.

Aged 26. On her wedding day to Denis Thatcher. Wearing a royal blue velvet dress, and a hat was trimmed with ostrich feathers.

Aged 34. Pictured outside the House of Commons, taking her seat as the Member of Parliament for Finchley.

(Photos: Getty Images, via BuzzFeed)



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