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Margaret Thatcher dies at 87

April 8, 2013

Known the world over as the "Iron Lady," Margaret Thatcher reformed British politics with a conservative bent in the 1980's. News recently broke that the former British Prime Minister died of stroke on April 7. She was 87 and had been unwell in the years leading up to her death and battling dementia. 

"It is with great sadness that Mark and Carole Thatcher announced their mother, Baroness Thatcher, died peacefully following a stroke this morning," said Timothy Bell, Mrs. Thatcher's spokesman.

First female head of state
Thatcher was first elected to the British Parliament in 1959 as a member of the conservative party. She was made leader of the party in 1975, and was elected prime minister in 1979, the first woman in U.K. history to hold the post. She remained the head of state until 1990 and her 11 year term as PM was the longest in the 20th century. 

She is credited with a political school of thought knows as "Thatcherism" that holds that economic freedom and personal  liberty require each other, that individual responsibility and hard work is the best way to attain to national prosperity, and that the free-market democracies must stand firm against aggression.

She is remembered for a strong record of achievement at home, including breaking the power of labor unions and radically reforming the welfare state.

On the foreign policy front, she is credited with winning back the Falkland Islands after a brief naval skirmish with Argentina and for forging a particularly close with relationship with the United States, specifically with president Ronald Regan. According to the Wall Street Journal, Thatcher is also credited as being instrumental in the creation of a single European Union market. 

A controversial figure
Thatcher's term as PM ended on a sour note, after a coup in her own party ousted her from her leadership position in 1990 after having served as head of government for almost 12 years. 

Critics of Baroness Thatcher's domestic policy accused her of callousness towards the poor and of having a short-sighted economic vision. There were also those who thought her foreign policy, particularly in regards to modernizing Britain's nuclear arsenal in response to the threat posed by the Soviet Union, as overly bellicose.

It was the Soviets who first nicknamed Thatcher the "Iron Lady," a sobriquet of which she was proud.

Despite strong criticisms leveled against her, even Thatchers opponents respected her straightforward style. Thatcher will be receive a ceremonial funeral at St. Paul's Cathedral with military honors.

Those interested in exploring Thatcher's legacy can pick up an international calling card and discuss the former PM with friends and family around the world. 

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