Margaret Thatcher was the longest serving Prime Minister of the twentieth century. Her style and her views appealed to many British people who had lost confidence in the welfare state and in the direction the nation had taken. In some ways she was the first genuine leader the nation had had since Churchill, the politician on whom she consciously modeled herself, In spite of the fact that over half the nation disagreed with her politics, they were unable to vote her out of office.
Few of the problems of the 1980s were entirely new. However, many people blamed them on the new Conservative government, and in partcular, Britain’s first woman Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. Thatcher had been elected in 1979 because she promised a new beginning for Britain. Margaret Thatcher had come to power calling on the nation for hard work, patriotism and self-help.
By the beginning of 1982 the Conservative govern had become deeply unpopular in the country. However, by her firm leadership during the Falklands War Thatcher captured the imagination of the nation, and was confidently able to call an election in 1983. As expected, Thatcher was returned to powerwith a clear majority.. It was the greatest Conservative victory for 40 years. In part Thatcher’s victory was a result of the ”Falklands factor”. A clear majority, however, had voted against the return of a Conservative government, showing dissatisfaction with Thatcher’s policies. It was not dificult to see why this was so.
Thatcher had promised to stop Britain’s decline, but by 1983 she had not succeeded. Industrial production since 1979 had fallen by 10% and manufacturing production by 17%. Unemployment had risen from 1.25 million in 1979 to over 3 million. Thatcher had begun to return nationalised industries to the private sector. By 1987 telecommunications, gas, British Airways, British Aerospace and British Shipbuilders had all been put into private...