Margaret Thatcher, Britain's first female PM, dead at 87 - CNN
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is the head of the Government of the United Kingdom , · First Lord of the Treasury , 4 May , —. In the government, formed from the house of representatives (the lower When British queen and British Prime minister are having a meeting how do they . Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, a towering figure in Thatcher served from to as leader of the Conservative Party.
She retired from public life after a stroke in and suffered several strokes after that. Thatcher through the years Photos: Thatcher through the years Margaret Thatcher through the years — Margaret Thatcherthe first woman to become British prime minister, has died at 87 after a stroke, a spokeswoman said Monday, April 8. Known as the "Iron Lady," Thatcher, as Conservative Party leader, was prime minister from to Hide Caption 1 of 36 Photos: Thatcher through the years Margaret Thatcher through the years — Thatcher with her parents and sister Muriel in Thatcher, born Margaret Hilda Roberts instudied chemistry at Oxford University and worked as a research chemist before becoming a barrister in Hide Caption 2 of 36 Photos: Thatcher through the years Margaret Thatcher through the years — Conservative Party candidate Margaret Roberts, the youngest candidate for any party in the general election, works in a laboratory where she was a research chemist.
Hide Caption 3 of 36 Photos: Thatcher through the years Margaret Thatcher through the years — The Conservative Party candidate for Dartford in Kent, England, meets some potential constituents in January Hide Caption 4 of 36 Photos: Thatcher through the years Margaret Thatcher through the years — Thatcher chats with a police officer outside the House of Commons, where she took a seat as a member of Parliament for Finchley in October Thatcher through the years Margaret Thatcher through the years — Thatcher addresses a Conservative Party conference in October Hide Caption 6 of 36 Photos: Thatcher through the years Margaret Thatcher through the years — Thatcher in Within five years, she would become leader of the Conservatives.FNN: President Trump & British Prime Minister Theresa May Press Conference
Hide Caption 7 of 36 Photos: Thatcher through the years Margaret Thatcher through the years — Prime Minister Edward Heath with 13 of 15 newly elected Conservative women members of Parliament outside the House of Commons in June Thatcher became secretary of state for education and science under Heath. Hide Caption 8 of 36 Photos: Thatcher through the years Margaret Thatcher through the years — Thatcher plays the piano for her husband, Denis, and their twins, Mark and Carol, then 17, in September Hide Caption 9 of 36 Photos: Thatcher through the years Margaret Thatcher through the years — Thatcher takes over from Edward Heath as leader of the Conservative Party in Hide Caption 10 of 36 Photos: Thatcher through the years Margaret Thatcher through the years — Thatcher addresses Conservatives at the start of the election campaign.
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William Whitelaw, at her right, later became home secretary and deputy prime minister under Thatcher. Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, Liberal, - Arthur James Balfour, Conservative, - The nephew of the Marquess of Salisbury, Balfour had none of his uncle's political skills despite a long period of mentoring. He was instead something of a philosopher, publishing several weighty books, including 'A Defence of Philosophic Doubt', 'The Foundations of Belief', and 'Theism and Humanism'.
Following a cabinet split Balfour resigned, gambling that the Liberals would be unable to form a government and that he would be returned to power. Marquess of Salisbury, -Conservative Salisbury came to power for the third and final time when the weak Liberal government of the Earl of Rosebery fell.
The political climate was one of rising resentment among the lower and middle classes, who demanded better conditions, social reforms and proper political representation. Bitterly divided, the Liberals would nonetheless experience a revival as they sought reforms of the squalid, disease-ridden British 'concentration camps' used in the Boer War.
But it was the founding of the Labour Representation Committee LRC on 27 February that signalled a quiet, yet highly significant sea-change in British politics. This coalition of socialist groups would win two seats in the general election and 29 seats in Despite failing health, Salisbury agreed to stay on to help Edward VII manage the transition following the death of his mother, Queen Victoria. He resigned in favour of his nephew, AJ Balfour, in the first months of the new King's reign.
Notably, he was the last serving prime minister to sit in the Lords. Earl of Rosebery, Liberal, - Rosebury reluctantly became prime minister on the insistence of Queen Victoria, despite still mourning the loss of his wife. Desperate to have a minister she actually liked, Victoria had taken the unusual step of not consulting the outgoing PM, William Gladstone, about his successor. Rosebery, who always loved horseracing more than the 'evil smelling bog' of politics, was gratefully allowed to resign a year later.
Notably, he is the only prime minister to have produced not one, but three Derby winners, inand Despite his aversion to politics, Rosebery was no stranger to scandal.
The Prince of Wales had reputedly once intervened to prevent him from being horsewhipped by the Marquess of Queensbury, with whose son Rosebery was believed to be having an affair.
William Ewart Gladstone, Liberal, - Gladstone's fourth term as prime minister was completely overshadowed by his insistence on introducing a third bill on the subject of 'Home Rule' for Ireland. The Conservative-dominated House of Lords threw the bill out and generally obstructed Liberal attempts to pass legislation. With his cabinet split and his health failing, the 'Grand Old Man' stepped down for the last time. The public was, in any case, exhausted with Home Rule and instead wanted reforms to working conditions and electoral practices.
Meanwhile, out on the political fringe, the Independent Labour Party had been set up under Keir Hardie to represent the working class and 'secure the collective ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange'.
Marquess of Salisbury, Conservative, - William Ewart Gladstone, Liberal, Gladstone came to power for the third time with 'Home Rule' devolution for Ireland still the dominant issue. A bitter election battle had seen the Conservative government fall after Irish Nationalist members of parliament sided with the Liberals to defeat them.
Instead, the Liberals formed a government in coalition with the Irish Nationalists and Gladstone tried to push through his second attempt at a Home Rule bill.
The bill split the Liberals and Gladstone resigned. He lost the general election when the 'Liberal Unionists' - those who wanted Ireland to be ruled from Westminster - broke away from Gladstone's Liberals to fight the next election as a separate party. Most Liberal Unionists were of the 'Whig' or propertied faction of the party, which meant that when they went, they took most of the money with them. Marquess of Salisbury, Conservative, - William Ewart Gladstone, Liberal, - Having failed to force Gladstone to serve under Lord Hartington, Queen Victoria reluctantly accepted 'that half-mad firebrand' as prime minister for the second time.
He had only lately returned to politics from retirement after his so-called 'Midlothian Campaign', in which he spoke to large crowds - a practice considered by polite Victorian society to be 'undignified'.
His campaign did much to discredit Disraeli's government and had clearly struck a chord with a public eager for social and electoral reform. The Ballot Act in had instituted secret ballots for local and general elections. Now came the Corrupt Practices Act, which set maximum election expenses, and the Reform and Redistribution Act, which effectively extended voting qualifications to another six million men. There were other burning issues.
The United States had just overtaken Britain as the world's largest industrialised economy, and 'Home Rule' devolution for Ireland continued to dominate. Gladstone resigned and was replaced by the 'caretaker government' of the Marquess of Salisbury. Benjamin Disraeli, Conservative, - After a brief taste of power init had taken Disraeli six years to become prime minister again.
He wasted no time in bringing about the social reforms he had envisaged in the s as a member of the radical Young England group. His Acts included measures to provide suitable housing and sewerage, to protect the quality of food, to improve workers rights including the Climbing Boys Act which banned the use of juveniles as chimney sweeps and to implement basic standards of education. InDisraeli was made the Earl of Beaconsfield, but continued to run the government from the Lords.
List of prime ministers of Great Britain and the United Kingdom
He persuaded Queen Victoria to take the title 'Empress of India' in and scored a diplomatic success in limiting Russian influence in the Balkans at the Congress of Berlin in He retired inhoping to spend his remaining years adding more novels to his already impressive bibliography, but died just one year later.
William Ewart Gladstone, Liberal, - Upon taking office for the first time Gladstone declared it his 'mission' to 'pacify Ireland' - a prize that was always to elude him. Nonetheless, Gladstone was to become the dominant Liberal politician of the late 19th Century, serving as prime minister four times despite earning Queen Victoria's antipathy early in his career.
She famously complained that 'he always addresses me as if I were a public meeting'. He had started his career as an ultra-conservative Tory, but would end it as a dedicated political reformer who did much to establish the Liberal Party's association with issues of freedom and justice. But Gladstone also had his idiosyncrasies. He made a regular habit of going to brothels and often brought prostitutes back to 10 Downing Street.
In an era when politicians' private lives were very private, his embarrassed colleagues nonetheless felt it necessary to explain his behaviour as 'rescue work' to save 'fallen women'. Benjamin Disraeli, Conservative, On being asked to become prime minister following the resignation of the Earl of Derby, Disraeli announced: He immediately struck up an excellent rapport with Queen Victoria, who approved of his imperialist ambitions and his belief that Britain should be the most powerful nation in the world.
Unhappily for the Queen, Disraeli's first term ended almost immediately with an election victory for the Liberals. Despite serving as an MP since and twice being Chancellor of the Exchequer, Disraeli's journey to the top was not without scandal. Inhe was forced to apologise in court after being accused of bribing voters in Maidstone. He also accrued enormous debts in his twenties through speculation on the stock exchange.
Disraeli suffered a nervous breakdown as a result, but eventually paid off his creditors by marrying a rich widow, Mary Anne Wyndam Lewis, in Earl of Derby, Conservative, - The introduction of the Reform Act made Derby's third term as prime minister a major step in the true democratisation of Britain.
Simply put, it created more than 1.
Versions of the Reform Act had been under serious discussion sincebut had always foundered on Conservative fears. Many considered it a 'revolutionary' move that would create a majority of 'working class' voters for the first time. In proposing the Reform Act, Benjamin Disraeli, Conservative Leader of the House of Commons, had warned his colleagues that they would be labelled the 'anti-reform' party if they continued to resist.
The legislation was passed, and also received the backing of the Liberals under their new leader, William Gladstone.
Earl Russell, Whig, - Viscount Palmerston, Liberal, - Earl of Derby, Conservative, - The property qualification - the requirement that a man must own property in order to stand as a member of parliament - was finally abolished during Derby's second term as prime minister.
It meant that members of parliament MPs were no longer drawn exclusively from the 'propertied' classes and could realistically be 'working class'. This fulfilled one of the six conditions set out by the Chartists - supporters of the Third Chartist Petition, written in It demanded universal male suffrage votes for all adult mensecret ballots rather than traditional open ballotsannual parliamentary elections, equal electoral districts some had less than voters, while others had many thousandsthe abolition of a property qualification for MPs, and payment for MPs which would allow non-independently wealthy men to sit in parliament.
Viscount Palmerston, Liberal- Earl of Aberdeen, Tory, - It was something of a cruel irony that Aberdeen came to be blamed for blundering into the dreadful Crimean War. As plain George Hamilton Gordon he had made a successful career as a diplomat and had done much to normalise Britain's relationships with its powerful neighbours. Vivid reports from the front by WH Russel of the Times have since led to the Crimean being styled the first 'media war'.
His reports publicised the squalor and disease that were claiming more soldiers' lives than the fighting, and inspired Florence Nightingale to volunteer and take the first 38 nurses out to treat the wounded. InAberdeen conceded to his critics and resigned. Earl of Derby, Conservative, Earl Russell, Whig, - Confronted by the Irish Potato Famine, declining trade and rising unemployment, Russell still managed to push through trade liberalisation measures and limits on women's working hours.
A dedicated reformer, he nonetheless presided over the rejection of the Third Chartist Petition. Set outit demanded universal male suffrage votes for all adult mensecret ballots rather than traditional open ballotsannual parliamentary elections, equal electoral districts some had less than voters, while others had many thousandsthe abolition of a property qualification for members of parliament MPsand payment for MPs which would allow non-independently wealthy men to sit in parliament.
Already rejected once by parliament inthe petition had gathered 5 million signatures by Presented to parliament a second time, it was again rejected. The Chartist movement slowly petered out, even as revolutions blazed across Europe, but many of its aims were eventually realised. Sir Robert Peel, Tory, - Peel's second term as prime minister was nothing short of tumultuous.
Economic depression, rising deficits, Chartist agitation, famine in Ireland and Anti-Corn League protests crowded in. A raft of legislation was created to stabilise the economy and improve working conditions. The Factory Act regulated work hours and banned children under eight from the workplacethe Railway Act provided for cheap, regular train services, the Bank Charter Act capped the number of notes the Bank of England could issue and the Mines Act prevented women and children from working underground.
But a failed harvest in provided Peel with his greatest challenge. There was an increasing clamour for repeal of the Corn Laws, which forbade the import of cheap grain from overseas.
Powerful vested interests in the Tory Party opposed such a move, but in the end Peel confronted them and called for repeal. After nearly six months of debate, and with the Tories split in two, the Corn Laws were finally repealed. Defeated on a separate issue, Peel resigned the same day, but was cheered by crowds as he left the Commons.
The 'Peelite' faction of the Tories is widely recognised as the foundation of the modern Conservative. Campaigning on his so-called 'Tamworth Manifesto', Peel promised a respectful approach to traditional politics, combined with measured, controlled reform.
He thereby signalled a significant shift from staunch, reactionary 'Tory' to progressive 'Conservative' politics.
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Crucially, he pledged to accept the Reform Act, which had recently increased the number of people eligible to vote. Peel won the election, but only narrowly. He resigned the following year after several parliamentary defeats. Peel is probably best remembered for creating the Metropolitan Police in while Home Secretary in the Duke of Wellington's first government.
The nickname 'bobbies' for policemen is derived from his first name. Duke of Wellington, Tory, Viscount Melbourne, Whig, In a bid to repress trade unions, Melbourne's government introduced legislation against 'illegal oaths'. In March of the same year, six labourers were transported to Australia for seven years for attempting to provide a fund for workers in need. They became known as the 'Tolpuddle Martyrs'. Melbourne himself was notoriously laid back. When first asked to become prime minister he declared it 'a damned bore'.
Having accepted, he would often refuse to allow his cabinet colleagues to leave the room, insisting 'I'm damned if I know what we agreed on. We must all say the same thing. Introduced in Marchthe bill scraped through the Commons by a single vote, but was thrown out at the committee stage when the bill is debated in detail - sometimes called the 'second reading'. Parliament was dissolved and the general election was fought on the single issue of the Reform Act - an unprecedented event in British political history.
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The Whigs won the election and passed the bill, but the House of Lords with a majority of Tories threw it out, sparking riots and civil disobedience across the country. With the spectre of France's bloody revolution clearly in mind, William IV eventually agreed to create 50 Whig peers to redress the balance in the Lords if the bill was rejected again.
The Lords conceded and the Act was finally passed into law. After all his efforts, Earl Grey is principally remembered for giving his name to a fragrant blend of tea. Duke of Wellington, Tory, - Wellington's first term in office was dominated by the thorny subject of Catholic emancipation.
Catholics were permitted to vote, but were not allowed to sit as members of parliament MPs and had restrictions on the property they could own. Initially, the 'Iron Duke' was staunchly in favour of the status quo, but soon came to realise that emancipation might be the only way to end conflict arising from the Act of Union between Britain and Ireland in He became such an advocate that he even fought a duel with the 10th Earl of Winchilsea over the issue. The Earl had accused him of plotting the downfall of the 'Protestant constitution', but then backed down and apologised.
They still had to go through the ritual of the duel at Battersea Fields, with both men deliberately firing high and wide.
Wellington eventually drove the legislation through, opening the way for Catholic MPs. Viscount Goderich, Tory, - George Canning, Tory, Canning finally became prime minister after a long career in politics, only to die of pneumonia days later. He had famously fought a duel in with his bitterest political rival, Lord Castlereagh, and was shot in the thigh. Castlereagh committed suicide with a penknife inafter becoming depressed about his falling popularity.
Earl of Liverpool, Tory, - Liverpool is the second longest serving prime minister in British history after Robert Walpolewinning four general elections and clinging on to power despite a massive stroke that incapacitated him for his last two years in office. Liverpool became PM at a time when Britain was emerging from the Napoleonic Wars and the first rumblings of 'working class' unrest were just beginning to be felt. Staunchly undemocratic in his outlook, Liverpool suppressed efforts to give the wider populace a voice.
He was unrepentant when, introops fired on a pro-reform mass meeting at St Peter's Fields in Manchester, killing eleven - the so-called 'Peterloo Massacre'. Trade unions were legalised by the Combination Act, but were so narrowly defined that members were forced to bargain over wages and conditions amid a minefield of heavy penalties for transgressions. Liverpool's one concession to popular sentiment was in the trial of Queen Caroline on trumped up adultery charges.
The legal victimisation of George IV's estranged wife, who was tried in parliament inbrought her mass sympathy. Mindful not to provoke the mob in the wake of Peterloo, the charges were eventually dropped.
Spencer Perceval, Tory, - Perceval bears a dubious distinction as the only British prime minister to be assassinated. As chancellor of the exchequer he moved in to 10 Downing Street inbefore rising to the office of prime minister two years later.
His 12 young children - some born while he was in office - also lived in the PM's crowded residence. Against expectations, he had skilfully kept his government afloat for three years despite a severe economic downturn and continuing war with Napoleon.
He was shot dead in the lobby of the House of Commons on 11 May by a merchant called John Bellingham who was seeking government compensation for his business debts. Perceval's body lay in 10 Downing Street for five days before burial.
Bellingham gave himself up immediately. Tried for murder, he was found guilty and hanged a week later. A shadow of his former self due to failing health and suspected alcoholism, Pitt nonetheless accepted. Pitt did not have long to savour victory before Napoleon defeated both Russia and Austria to stand astride the whole of Europe.
Heartsick, utterly exhausted, penniless and unmarried, Pitt died on 23 January at the age of Henry Addington, Tory, - Addington secured the Peace of Amiens with France inbut would see Britain plunge into war with Napoleon again just two years later. He also passed the first Factory Act into law. The Act was the earliest attempt to reform working conditions in factories. It set a maximum 12 hour working day for children and addressed issues like proper ventilation, basic education and sleeping conditions.
But he was generally poorly regarded, prompting the satirical rhyme 'Pitt is to Addington, as London is to Paddington' - a reference to his distinguished predecessor as prime minister, William Pitt. William Pitt 'the Younger', Tory, Pitt 'the Younger' was the youngest prime minister in British history, taking office at the tender age of just But his youth did not seem to disadvantage him as he threw himself into the manifold problems of government, holding on to the top office for 17 years - fifteen years longer than his father, Pitt 'the Elder'.
Prime Ministers and Politics Timeline
His first priority was to reduce the National Debt, which had doubled with the loss of the American colonies in George III's mental illness then threw up the spectre of a constitutional crisis, with the transfer of sovereignty to the erratic Prince of Wales only narrowly averted by the king's recovery.
Further threats to the monarchy emanated from across the Channel, with the bloody French Revolution of and subsequent war with France in War increased taxes and caused food shortages, damaging Pitt's popularity to the extent that he employed bodyguards out of fear for his safety.
In a bid to resolve at least one intractable conflict, he pushed through the Act of Union with Ireland inbut the related Emancipation of Catholics Bill was rejected by the king a year later.
Groomed by George III to lead his parliamentary supporters, North was fiercely loyal to his king, whose policy it had been to 'punish' the American colonials. The American War of Independence, reluctantly entered into by both sides, had been prosecuted at the king's behest in retaliation for their refusal to pay more towards their own defence.
As hostilities progressed, North's blundering and indecision worsened an already difficult situation, and by it was clear that the outcome was likely to be a disaster. He begged George III to be allowed to resign, but the king refused to release him until the war was over. North has since become the yardstick for prime ministerial mediocrity, with later PMs being criticised as 'the worst since Lord North'.
Duke of Grafton, Whig, - An unremarkable prime minister, Grafton had a quite remarkable appetite for extra-marital affairs and openly kept several mistresses. He scandalised polite society in by leaving his wife and going to live with his mistress, Anne Parsons, also known as 'Mrs Houghton'. Horace Walpole referred to her derisively as 'everybody's Mrs Houghton'. Popular opinion had disapproved of Grafton's behaviour, until his wife did something even more shocking.
She eloped with the Earl of Upper Ossory and had a child by him. Grafton divorced her inthen abandoned Mrs Houghton and married Elizabeth Wrottesley, with whom he had 13 children. The Mrs Houghton ended up marrying the king's brother. This unsuitable union gave impetus to the Royal Marriages Act ofwhich decreed that the monarch had to give permission for all royal weddings.