9 Apr 2013

Former British PM Margaret Thatcher dies

10:40 pm on 9 April 2013

One of Britain's most dominant political figures of the 20th century, Margaret Thatcher, has died.

The 87-year-old died peacefully in her sleep after suffering a stroke in London on Monday.

Baroness Thatcher from the Conservative Party was Prime Minister from 1979 to 1990 and the first woman to hold the role.

Prime Minister David Cameron said on Monday: "We've lost a great leader, a great prime minister and a great Briton", while the Queen has spoken of her sadness at the death.

The Union Jack above No.10 Downing St has been lowered to half-mast.

Baroness Thatcher had been in poor health for several years and her funeral will be held at St Paul's Cathedral with full military honours on 17 April.

She will not have a state funeral, but will be accorded the same status as Princess Diana and the Queen Mother.

Buckingham Palace says the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh will attend.

Mr Cameron said Parliament would be re-called this week for a special session at which tributes will be paid.

Three successive elections for 'Iron Lady'

Born Margaret Roberts, Margaret Thatcher served as MP for Finchley in north London from 1959 to 1992.

Having been education secretary, she successfully challenged former prime minister Edward Heath for the Conservative Party's leadership in 1975 and won general elections in 1979, 1983 and 1987, the BBC reports.

A Russian newspaper dubbed her "the Iron Lady" in 1976 - a title which gave her much personal pleasure.

Lady Thatcher introduced monetarist policies, privatised state industries and pushed through tax and spending cuts that provoked a wave of industrial action.

Her policies enabled people to buy council houses as well as shares in the newly privatised industries such as British Gas and British Telecom (BT).

Lady Thatcher also successfully took Britain to war with Argentina over the Falkland Islands in 1982.

Her legacy had a profound effect upon the policies of her successors, both Conservative and Labour, while her radical and sometimes confrontational approach defined her 11 years at No.10 Downing Street.

But her rejection of consensus politics made her a divisive figure.

Much of her premiership was marked by conflict - police confrontations with the miners' union, the Falklands War and riots in Trafalgar Square over the poll tax.

Opposition to her policies and her style of government led eventually to rebellion inside her party and unrest on the streets. Her own colleagues deposed her in 1990 and she was succeeded by John Major, who won the next election.

Lady Thatcher stood down as an MP in 1992 and was elevated to the peerage as Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven in the County of Lincolnshire, receiving the Order of the Garter in 1995.

She was forced to curtail her activities in 2001 when her health began to deteriorate. Her husband, Denis Thatcher, died in 2003.

Memorable quotes

"In politics if you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman." - 1965

"I don't think there will be a woman prime minister in my lifetime." - as Education Secretary in 1973. She became prime minister in 1979.

"They've got the usual Socialist disease - they've run out of other people's money." - Address to the Conservative Party Conference in 1975.

"Where there is discord, may we bring harmony. Where there is error, may we bring truth. Where there is doubt, may we bring faith. And where there is despair, may we bring hope." - Quoting St Francis of Assisi on her 1979 election victory.

"I am not a consensus politician. I'm a conviction politician." - 1979

"I don't mind how much my ministers talk, as long as they do what I say." - 1980

"To those waiting with bated breath for that favourite media catchphrase, the "U" turn, I have only one thing to say. "You turn if you want to. The lady's not for turning." - Speech to the Conservative Party conference in 1980.

"Just rejoice at that news and congratulate our forces and the marines. Good night gentlemen. Rejoice." To reporters in 1982 outside Downing Street after Britain recaptured South Georgia from Argentina.

"This is a day I was not meant to see." - To reporters the day after surviving an IRA bomb at the Conservative Party conference in 1984.

"It's a funny old world" - On her decision to quit in 1990.