|Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher dies after stroke, aged 87
David Cameron and the Queen lead tributes to former Prime Minister
Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s first and only woman Prime Minister, died this
morning after suffering a stroke, it was announced today.
Baroness Thatcher, who was 87, won three general elections for the Conservatives and shaped UK politics for a generation. At home, she implemented sweeping reforms to trade unions, defeated the miners in a bitter strike and forced the Labour Party to modernise itself. Abroad, she was dubbed “the Iron Lady”, winning an unlikely war in the Falklands and helping to secure the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Lord Bell, her spokesman and former adviser, said: "It is with great sadness that Mark and Carol Thatcher announced that their mother Baroness Thatcher died peacefully following a stroke this morning."
In a statement Downing Street said she will be given a special ceremonial funeral, similar to those accorded to the Queen Mother and Diana, the Princess of Wales. She had been in poor health for some months and was living at the Ritz Hotel in London so that she could be cared for more easily.
The service will be held at St Paul's Cathedral with a “wide and diverse range of people and groups with connections to Lady Thatcher” being invited. The service will be followed by a private cremation.
The tributes were led by David Cameron, who returned early from a tour of European capitals . He said: "It was with great sadness that I learned of the death of Lady Thatcher. We have lost a great leader, a great Prime Minister and a great Briton."
Even Lady Thatcher’s critics admitted that some of her economic reforms were needed. She came to power after the 1978-79 Winter of Discontent, a wave of strikes which left rubbish piling up in the streets and the dead unburied in some areas. She imposed spending cuts as well as labour market reforms, taking on critics dubbed “the wets”, the moderate Tory ministers she sacked from her own Cabinet. In 1981, she declared that: “The lady’s not for turning,” a phrase that may prove her epitaph and has made the party leaders who followed her reluctant to make U-turns on policy.
Lady Thatcher, known as “Maggie,” won popular backing way beyond the Conservatives’ natural supporters. Even doubters acknowledged she showed strong leadership. But she was also seen as a leader who divided the nation because of the harsh measures she took on the economy. Critics blamed her for writing off huge sections of Britain’s manufacturing industry and allowing unemployment to rise to three million.
The grocer’s daughter from Grantham was the outsider who rose suddenly to become Tory leader when Sir Edward Heath, the former Prime Minister, was toppled by his own party in 1975.
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