Margaret Hilda Thatcher was the first woman to hold the British prime minister position. She was also the longest-serving prime minister of the 20th Century. But did you know what was the reason behind her speech; Britain Awake?
Margaret Thatcher gave her “Britain Awake” speech in 1976. In this speech, she explained that the USSR was bent on world domination, and since they failed economically, they would need to use military means to become a superpower. Soviet news agencies dubbed her the “Iron Lady” after the speech.
Who was Great Britain’s Iron Lady?
Margaret Hilda Roberts was born on October 13, 1925, in Grantham, Lincolnshire. She spent her childhood in Grantham, where her father had a grocery store and a tobacco shop. Before the Second World War started, her family gave sanctuary to a Jewish teenager who had escaped from Nazi Germany. Thatcher saved enough pocket money to help pay for the girl’s journey.
Thatcher attended Huntingtower Road Primary School and received a scholarship to Kesteven and Grantham Girls’ School. She did well in school; in both academic and extracurricular activities. Thatcher played the piano, was part of the field hockey and swimming team, and even spoke at poetry recitals. During the Second World War, she volunteered as a fire watch in the local Air Raid Precautions (ARP). She was also regarded as a star scientist and was accepted for a chemistry scholarship at the Sommerville College in Oxford.
After graduating from Oxford in 1947 with a second-class degree in chemistry specializing in X-ray crystallography under Dorothy Hodgkin, she moved to Colchester in Essex. She worked as a research chemist at BX Plastics. She tried to apply for a position at Imperial Chemical Industries but was rejected for being headstrong, obstinate, and dangerously self-opinionated.
She met divorcé Denis Thatcher, a wealthy businessman, in 1949. After their first meeting, she described him as not very attractive but very reserved and quite lovely. They got married at Wesley’s Chapel, and all her children were baptized here as well.
Thatcher became prime minister on May 4, 1979. While she was in power through the 1980s, she was often referred to as the most powerful woman in the world. (Source: Belfast Telegraph)
Britain Awake, The Iron Lady Speech
Britain Awake was the title of the speech Margaret Thatcher made at Kensington Town Hall on January 19, 1976. The speech was wholly anti-Soviet, and Thatcher was very confident that the USSR was bent on dominating the world through military force. She questioned the British government’s cut on military defense in her speech.
Thatcher believed that a Conservative government should align its foreign policy with the United States and increase the budget for defense spending. She urged the British people to wake up from the supposed long sleep they had been in. She was saying that their choice will eventually determine the life and death of the kind of society they would have.
Yuri Gavrilov from the Krasnaya Zvezda dubbed Thatcher the Iron Lady, and the nickname stuck as several news agencies picked it up. (Source: Margaret Thatcher on Leadership)