Margaret Thatcher: A Life in Quotes | History Hit

Margaret Thatcher: A Life in Quotes

Teet Ottin

27 Jul 2022
Margaret Thatcher, 01 July 1991
Image Credit: David Fowler /

On 4 May 1979, one of the most influential and divisive Prime Ministers in British history took office – Margaret Thatcher. She was a greengrocer’s daughter who defied the odds to study Chemistry at Oxford. Her remarkable journey through politics started in 1950, when she first ran for Parliament. In 1959, she entered the House of Commons, rising steadily within the Conservative Party. By the mid 1970s she became the leader of the Party, a position she would hold onto for the next 15 years. Under her leadership the Conservative Party managed to win the 1979 election, making Margaret Thatcher the first woman to hold the position. To this day she is the longest continuously serving Prime Minister in British history, changing the country through large scale economic reforms.

Thatcher was well known for her oratory skills, which have left us with a plethora of memorable quotes. As with many other politicians, she had writers assisting her. Most famously Sir Ronald Millar wrote Thatcher’s ‘The lady’s not for turning’ speech for the 1980 Conservative Party Conference, which gained her a five-minute standing ovation from her fellow delegates. To be taken more seriously she took public speaking lessons to force down her pitch, creating her distinctive way of talking.

Here is a collection of some of Margaret Thatcher’s most remarkable quotes, showcasing a political legacy that lasted for decades.

Thatcher with President Gerald Ford in the Oval Office, 1975

Image Credit: William Fitz-Patrick, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

‘In politics, if you want anything said, ask a man; if you want anything done, ask a woman.’

(Speech to members of the National Union of Townswomen’s Guilds, 20 May 1965)

Margaret Thatcher with President Jimmy Carter at the White House, Washington, D.C. 13 September 1977

Image Credit: US Library of Congress

‘I started life with two great advantages: no money, and good parents.’

(TV interview, 1971)

Margaret and Denis Thatcher on a visit to Northern Ireland, 23 December 1982

Image Credit: The National Archives, OGL 3 , via Wikimedia Commons

‘I don’t think there will be a woman Prime Minister in my lifetime.’

(As Education Secretary in 1973)

Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister of Great Britain, speaking at a lectern, next to President Jimmy Carter and First Lady Rosalynn Carter, Washington, D.C. 17 December 1979

Image Credit: US Library of Congress

‘Where there is discord, may we bring harmony. Where there is error, may we bring truth. Where there is doubt, may we bring faith. And where there is despair, may we bring hope.’

(Following her first election victory in 1979)

Margaret Thatcher during a press conference, 19 September 1983

Image Credit: Rob Bogaerts / Anefo, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Any woman who understands the problems of running a home will be nearer to understanding the problems of running a country.’

(BBC, 1979)

Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher visit to Israel

Image Credit: Copyright © IPPA 90500-000-01, CC BY 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

‘To those waiting with bated breath for that favourite media catchphrase, the U-turn, I have only one thing to say: You turn if you want to. The lady’s not for turning.’

(Conservative Party Conference, 10 October 1980)

Margaret Thatcher, unknown date

Image Credit: Unknown author, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

‘Economics are the method; the object is to change the heart and soul.’

(Interview with The Sunday Times, 1 May 1981)

Margaret Thatcher bids farewell after a visit to the United States, 2 March 1981

Image Credit: Williams, U.S. Military, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

‘Just rejoice at that news and congratulate our forces and the marines. … Rejoice.’

(Remarks on the recapture of South Georgia, 25 April 1982)

The meeting between Mikhail Gorbachev, on an official visit to Great Britain and Margaret Thatcher (left) at the embassy of the USSR

Image Credit: RIA Novosti archive, image #778094 / Yuryi Abramochkin / CC-BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

‘I like Mr. Gorbachev. We can do business together.’

(TV interview, 17 December 1984)

Margaret Thatcher during a visit to the Netherlands, 19 September 1983

Image Credit: Rob Bogaerts / Anefo, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

‘I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding because I think, well, if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left.’

(TV Interview for RAI, 10 March 1986)

Margaret Thatcher and President Ronald Reagan speak at The South Portico of the White House after their meetings in the Oval Office, 29 September 1983

Image Credit: mark reinstein /

We have become a grandmother.’

(Remarks on becoming a grandmother, 1989)

President Bush presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the East Room of the White House. 1991

Image Credit: Unknown photographer, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

‘We’re leaving Downing Street for the last time after eleven-and-a-half wonderful years, and we’re very happy that we leave the United Kingdom in a very, very much better state than when we came here eleven and a half years ago.’

(Remarks departing Downing Street, 28 November 1990)

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Teet Ottin