Essential Margaret Thatcher

Overview including brief biography, chronology and commentary

Brief chronology 1925-90

1925-58: early life & career

25 Oct 13 Tu: Born in Grantham as second child to Alfred & Beatrice Roberts
43 Oct: MT began her chemistry degree at Somerville College, Oxford
46 Oct: MT elected President of Oxford University Conservative Association
47 Jun: MT completed Part II of her chemistry degree
49 Jan 31 Mo: MT selected Conservative candidate for Dartford
50 Feb 23 Th: General Election: Labour Government formed (5 majority); MT defeated at Dartford
51 Oct 25 Th: General Election: Conservative Government (13 majority); MT defeated at Dartford
51 Dec 13 Th: Marriage of Margaret Roberts and Denis Thatcher
52 Jan-Apr: MT began legal training; resigned as candidate for Dartford
53 Aug 15 Sa: Birth of Carol & Mark Thatcher
53 Dec 01 Tu: MT qualified as a barrister
55 May 26 Th: General Election: Conservative Government formed (58 majority); MT did not run
58 Jul 31 Th: MT adopted Conservative candidate for Finchley

1959-64: first Parliament

59 Oct 08 Th: General Election: Conservative Government formed (100 majority) MT elected an MP
61 Jul 31 Mo: Macmillan announced British application for EEC membership
61 Aug 13 Su: Berlin Wall begun
61 Oct 09 Mo: MT appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary (Pensions & National Insurance)
62 Jul 13 Fr: 'Night of the Long Knives' - 7 of 21 Cabinet Ministers sacked
62 Oct 28 Su: Cuban Missile Crisis resolved
62 Dec 19 We: Macmillan-Kennedy Nassau Summit - US agreed to supply Polaris to Britain
63 Jan 14 Mo: De Gaulle vetoed British entry to EEC
63 Jun 04 Tu: Profumo resigned
63 Oct 10 Fr: Macmillan resigned as Prime Minister; Douglas-Home succeeded him

1964-70: Shadow spokesman

64 Oct 15 Th: General Election: Labour Government formed (4 majority); MT shadowing pensions
65 Jul 25 Su: Home resigned as Conservative leader; Heath elected successor (28 Jul)
65 Oct 18 Mo: MT moved to shadow Housing and Land
65 Nov 11 Th:    Rhodesia declared UDI
66 Mar 31 Th: General Election: Labour Government formed (98 majority)
66 Apr 19 Tu: MT moved to shadow Treasury as deputy to Iain Macleod
67 Jun 05 Mo: Middle East: Six Day War (ended 10 Jun)
67 Oct 10 Tu: MT appointed to Shadow Cabinet, responsible for Fuel and Power
67 Nov 18 Sa: Sterling devalued from $2.80 to $2.40
68 Apr 20 Sa: Enoch Powell's 'River Tiber' speech
68 Apr 21 Su: Heath dismissed Powell from Shadow Cabinet
68 Aug 20 Tu: Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia
68 Nov 14 Th: MT reshuffled to shadow Transport
69 Aug 14 Th: Northern Ireland: British Army deployed in Belfast
69 Oct 21 Tu: MT appointed shadow Education spokesman
70 Jan 30 Fr: Selsdon Park Shadow Cabinet (manifesto meeting); ended 1 Feb
70 Jun 18 Th: General Election: Conservative Government formed (majority 31)

1970-74: Education Minister & Shadow spokesman

70 Jun 19 Fr: MT became Secretary of State for Education and Science
70 Jun 30 Tu: Circular 10/70, withdrawing compulsion to go comprehensive
71 Feb 04 Th: Nationalisation of Rolls-Royce announced
71 Oct 28 Th: House of Commons voted in favour of EEC entry (356:244)
71 Oct-Nov: MT most bitterly attacked as 'milk snatcher' in the press
72 Jan 09 Su: Miners' strike began (National Union of Mineworkers, NUM)
72 Jan 12 We: MT met Heath at Chequers with her senior officials; reinforced her authority
72 Jan 20 Th: Unemployment passed 1 million
72 Jan 30 Su: 'Bloody Sunday': British troops killed 13 in Londonderry
72 Feb 10 Th: Saltley Coke depot closed by NUM 'flying pickets'
72 Feb 19 Sa: Heath conceded miners' demands
72 Feb 28 We: 'U turn' (1): Upper Clyde Shipbuilders given £35m aid
72 Mar 21 Tu: 'U turn' (2): Budget: full scale reflation began
72 Mar 22 We: 'U turn' (3): Industry White Paper (basis of interventionist 1972 Industry Act)
72 Mar 24 We: Northern Ireland: Stormont Parliament suspended; direct rule began
72 Jun 23 Th: Sterling floated: left European 'snake' and unpegged from dollar
72 Nov 06 Mo: 'U turn' (4): Statutory control of pay, prices, dividends and rents ('Phase I')
72 Dec 06 We: MT's White Paper published: Education: A Framework for Expansion
73 Jan 01 Mo: Britain acceded to the European Community
73 Oct 06 Sa: Arab-Israeli War (ended 24 Oct); oil price increased 70 per cent
73 Oct 08 Mo: 'Phase III' of pay policy: £2.25 or 7 per cent; inflation linked 'threshold' payments
73 Nov 12 Mo: NUM overtime ban began; State of Emergency following day
73 Dec 09 Su: Sunningdale Agreement (north-south Council of Ireland to be formed)
73 Dec 13 Th: Three day week announced
74 Feb 07 Th: General Election called for 28 Feb
74 Feb 10 Su: Miners' strike began (ended 11 Mar)
74 Feb 28 Th: General Election: no party won an overall majority
74 Mar 02 Sa: Heath offered Liberals seats in coalition; offer rejected, he resigned as PM (4 Mar)
74 Mar 11 Mo: Shadow cabinet formed: MT shadowing Environment; Keith Joseph setting up CPS
74 May 15 We: Northern Ireland: Loyalist strike began; executive resigned (28 May)
74 Jun 22 Sa: Keith Joseph's Upminster speech
74 Sep 05 Th: Keith Joseph's Preston speech: fundamental attack on post-war political consensus
74 Oct 10 Th: General Election: Labour Government formed with majority of three
74 Oct 19 Sa: Keith Joseph's Edgbaston speech: damaged his chances of winning Cons leadership
74 Nov 07 Th: Shadow cabinet reshuffle: MT to assist Carr on Treasury questions
74 Nov 21 Th: Keith Joseph told MT he would not stand for the leadership; MT decided she would

1975-79: Leader of the Opposition

75 Feb 04 Tu: MT defeated Heath in first ballot for Conservative leadership; Heath resigned
75 Feb 11 Tu: MT elected Conservative leader on second ballot
75 Jun 05 Th: European Referendum: 67.2 per cent for; 32.8 per cent against (64 per cent turnout)
75 Jul 01 Tu: Government proposed pay policy; White Paper (11 Jul)
75 Sep 13 Sa: MT visited USA and Canada (returned 26 Sep)
75 Nov 27 Th: Ross McWhirter murdered by IRA; MT given 24-hour police protection for first time
76 Mar 16 Tu: Harold Wilson announced his resignation as Prime Minister
76 Apr 05 Mo: James Callaghan elected Labour leader; became Prime Minister
76 Apr 07 We: Government lost its majority
76 Sep 28 Tu: Sterling crisis resumed: Healey turned back from Heathrow
76 Oct 04 Mo: The Right Approach published (key Conservative policy document)
76 Dec 15 We: Budget: Letter of Intent to IMF published (loan granted 3 Jan 77)
77 Feb 22 Tu: House of Commons (HC): devolution guillotine defeated 312:283
77 Mar 23 We: Lib-Lab Pact kept Labour Government in office
78 Jul 21 Fr: Stage 3 White Paper: 5 per cent pay guideline
78 Sep 07 Th: Callaghan broadcast: surprise announcement of no autumn General Election
79 Jan 03 We: Lorry drivers' strike began
79 Jan-Feb: 'Winter of Discontent' at its worst; Labour Government in deep difficulties
79 Mar 28 We: HC: Labour Government fell (defeated in confidence motion)
79 Mar 29 Th: General Election announced for 3 May
79 Mar 30 Fr: Airey Neave murdered by Irish terrorists (INLA)
79 May 03 Th: General Election: Conservative Government formed (43 majority)

1979-83: Prime Minister – first term

79 May 04 Fr: MT appointed Prime Minister
79 Jun 07 Th: European Elections
79 Jul 31 Tu: Lusaka Commonwealth Meeting began (ended 8 Aug)
79 Aug 27 Mo: IRA murdered Mountbatten and 18 soldiers (Warrenpoint)
79 Oct 23 Tu: Exchange controls abolished
79 Nov 29-30: Dublin European Council: budget row beginning
79 Dec 25 Tu: USSR invaded Afghanistan
80 Jan 02 We: Steel strike began (ended 3 Apr)
80 Jun 02 Mo: Cabinet agreed European budget proposal; short-term settlement
80 Sep 22 Mo: Iran-Iraq war began
80 Nov 04 Tu: Reagan elected US President
81 Feb 10 Tu: NCB announced pit closures (abandoned 18 Feb)
81 Mar 01 Su: Second Republican hunger strike began (ended 3 Oct)
81 Mar 10 Tu: Budget: counter-Keynesian - increased taxes at bottom of depression
81 Mar 26 Th: Social Democratic Party (SDP) formed ('Alliance' of SDP & Liberals, 16 Jun)
81 Nov 26 Th: Crosby by-election: Shirley Williams won Conservative seat for SDP
82 Apr 02 Fr: Falklands: Argentina invaded
82 Apr 03 Sa: Falklands: UN SCR 502 demanding Argentine withdrawal; British Task Force sailed
82 Apr 25 Su: Falklands: South Georgia recaptured
82 Apr 30 Fr: Falklands: US 'tilt' in favour of Britain; Total Exclusion Zone put in force
82 May 02 Su: Falklands: Argentine cruiser General Belgrano sunk by British sub HMS Conqueror
82 May 04 Tu: Falklands: HMS Sheffield hit by Argentine Exocet missile
82 May 21 Fr: Falklands: British Forces landed at San Carlos Bay
82 Jun 14 Mo: Falklands: Argentine surrender
83 Mar 23 We: Reagan announced 'Star Wars' (Strategic Defence Initiative); MT supports
83 Jun 09 Th: General Election: Conservative Government formed (144 majority)

1983-87: Prime Minister – second term

83 Nov 25 Tu: US invasion of Grenada
84 Mar 12 Mo: Miners' strike began
84 Jun 25-26: Fontainebleau European Council; long-term European budget settlement
84 Oct 12 Fr: Brighton bomb: failed IRA attempt to assassinate MT and her cabinet
84 Nov 06 Tu: Reagan reelected US President
84 Nov 20 Tu: Flotation of British Telecom: key privatisation measure
84 Dec 16 Su: Gorbachev visited Chequers: MT described him as a man she could do business with
84 Dec 19 We: Hong Kong: MT signed Joint Agreement with China
85 Mar 03 Su: NUM voted to end coal strike
85 Nov 15 Fr: Anglo-Irish Agreement signed at Hillsborough: consultative role for Republic
85 Dec 02 Mo: Luxembourg European Council; Single European Act agreed (ended 3 Dec)
86 Jan 09 Th: Westland: Heseltine walked out of cabinet; replaced at Defence by George Younger
86 Jan 24 Fr: Westland: Brittan resigned; Channon replaced him at DTI
86 Jan 27 Mo: Westland: emergency debate, ending the crisis
86 Apr 15 Tu: US air raids on Libya, mainly from British bases; MT attacked for allowing them
86 Oct 11-12: Reykjavik (Reagan-Gorbachev) Summit; talk of abolishing nuclear weapons
86 Nov 15 Sa: Anglo-US Summit at Camp David: MT and Reagan issued arms control statement
87 Feb 22 Su: 'Louvre Accord' to halt decline in $; Lawson secretly began shadowing DM
87 Mar 28 Sa: MT visited USSR (ended 1 Apr)
87 Jun 11 Th: General Election: Conservative Government formed (101 majority)

1987-90: Prime Minister – third term

87 Oct 19 Mo: 'Black Monday': Dow Jones fell 23 per cent
87 Nov 8 Su: 'Poppy Day Massacre': IRA bomb killed 11 at Enniskillen remembrance day service
88 Feb 08 Mo: Gorbachev announced Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan from May
88 Mar 07 Mo: Sterling 'uncapped' on MT's insistence and rose above 3DM
88 Mar 15 Tu: Budget: highest rate of income tax cut to 40 per cent
88 May 17 Tu: Interest rates cut to 7.5 per cent (lowest 1979-90); MT publicly supported Lawson
89 Jan 31 Tu: NHS White Paper published (Working for Patients)
89 Jun 03 Sa: China: Tiananmen Square massacre
89 Jun 20 Tu: MT clash with Howe and Lawson on ERM line at Madrid Council (met again 25 Jun)
89 Jun 26 Mo: MT set conditions for ERM entry ('Madrid conditions'); rejected Social Charter
89 Oct 26 Th: Lawson resigned as Chancellor of the Exchequer; Major replaced him
89 Dec 10 Su: Czechoslovakia: end of Communist rule (Havel President 29 Dec)
89 Dec 22 Fr: Romania: dictator Ceausescu overthrown (killed 25 Dec)
90 Feb 10 Sa: Kohl in Moscow: Gorbachev agreed German reunification
90 Mar 11 Su: Lithuania declared independence of USSR
90 Mar 31 Sa: Trafalgar Square riot against Community Charge or 'poll tax'
90 Apr 01 Su: Strangeways prison siege (ended 25 Apr); disturbances in other gaols
90 Jul 14 Sa: Ridley resigned over comments on Germany
90 Aug 02 Th: Iraq invaded Kuwait; MT with Bush in Aspen
90 Aug 09 Th: UK announced commitment of forces to the Gulf
90 Oct 03 We: German reunification
90 Oct 05 Fr: Britain joined ERM; interest rates cut by one per cent to 14 per cent
90 Nov 01 Th: Howe resigned
90 Nov 13 Tu: HC: Howe's resignation speech bitterly critical of MT
90 Nov 14 We: Heseltine stood for Conservative leadership
90 Nov 20 Tu: Conservative leadership election first ballot (MT 204:152 Heseltine)
90 Nov 22 Th: MT announced decision not to contest second ballot
90 Nov 27 Tu: Conservative leadership election second ballot; Major became leader
90 Nov 28 We: MT resigned as Prime Minister; John Major succeeded her