The Invincible Mrs. Thatcher

With Britain’s Tories back in power—and a biopic starring Meryl Streep on its way—the career of Margaret Thatcher is newly resonant. A conservative revolutionary, she prefigured, then partnered with, Ronald Reagan, worshipping “real men” as she went where no woman had, never losing a national election (or a war), and defining an era. Twenty years after Thatcher’s retirement, her biographer Charles Moore re-assesses the most powerful British prime minister since Churchill, one who forged a legacy that will long survive her.

  1. Not long after she resigned as prime minister, in 1990, Margaret Thatcher began to write her memoirs. I met her at a dinner party and asked her what she would call them. The famous blue eyes flashed at me: “Undefeated!” she declared.

    This expressed a sober arithmetical fact. Uniquely at that time in British politics, Margaret Thatcher had won three general elections in a row as party leader and had never lost any. Before she had the chance to contest her fourth, she was deposed by members of Parliament from her own party in a coup. Yet, even in that contest, the pure numbers were on her side. In 1990, when the Conservative Party staged a challenge to her leadership, she won more legislators’ votes than her main rival, but not enough to avoid a second ballot. Her Cabinet colleagues convinced her that she would be humiliated in the runoff, and she resigned.

    In the end, those memoirs were given a more boring title (The Downing Street Years), but that one-word exclamation succinctly ex...

The complete text of “The Invincible Mrs. Thatcher” is not in the Byliner library, but we love it so much we included an excerpt and a link to the full story on www.vanityfair.com.

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