Margaret Thatcher: A Portrait of the Iron Lady

By John Blundell | Go to book overview

2. UNIVERSITY

I do not know anyone who has got to the top without hard work.
That is the recipe. It will not always get you to the top, but should
get you pretty near.”

So in early October 1943, right about her 18th birthday, Miss Margaret Roberts arrived at Oxford to study Chemistry. It was war-time: blackouts, nights on fire-watch, rationing, queues and no sugar in your tea were the order of the day. I asked her just over 60 years later “are you more proud of being the first lady Prime Minister or the first scientist Prime Minister?”

“Oh, scientist, definitely scientist,” she replied instantly and typically without a doubt.

There had been a lot more it turned out to her desire to get into Oxford in 1943 rather than 1944 (as proposed by her teachers) than had originally met the eye. Most British degrees take three years as opposed to four in the United States. This is because British children spend 14 years in grade school not 12 — they go from age 5 to 18 as opposed to say 6 to 17. Chemistry at Oxford was an exception — it was a four year degree with the final year being devoted full time to a major piece of original research. And you graduated with both a Bachelors and a Master’s degree. However, starting in 1944, the growing flow of mature often married ex-servicemen anxious to make up time and get on with

-25-

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Margaret Thatcher: A Portrait of the Iron Lady
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • List of Acronyms ix
  • Acknowledgements xi
  • Protocol xiii
  • Table of Contents xv
  • Preface 1
  • Introduction 11
  • 1- Childhood 17
  • 2- University 25
  • 3- Launching 35
  • 4- Elected 45
  • 5- Opposition I 53
  • 6- Education Secretary 63
  • 7- Reflections 71
  • 8- Leader 77
  • 9- Opposition II 83
  • 10- Power 89
  • 11- Liberating the Economy 93
  • 12- Privatizing the Commanding Heights 99
  • 13- Selling off Public Housing 107
  • 14- Going to War 113
  • 15- Beating the Miners 121
  • 16- Reforming the Unions 127
  • 17- Battling the I.R.a 131
  • 18- Befriending America 137
  • 19- Kicking Down the Wall 141
  • 20- Dealing with Brussels 147
  • 21- Resignation 155
  • 22- Retirement 165
  • 23- Family 173
  • 24- Men 181
  • 25- Her World 191
  • 26- Ten Lessons 197
  • Postscript- What Remains to Be Done 207
  • Appendix I- Table of Margaret Thatcher’s Elections* 209
  • Appendix II- General Election Results from 1945 -2005 210
  • Further Reading 211
  • Index 213
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