Margaret Thatcher Revisited: When The 'Iron Lady' Sat Down With NPR

In 1993, three years after she resigned as prime minister, Margaret Thatcher sat down for an hour-long interview with NPR. Along with the issues of the day, she talked about her time in office and the legacy she hoped to leave. Thatcher was one of Britain's most divisive and transformative prime ministers. She died Monday of a stroke at the age of 87.

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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

MARGARET THATCHER: When people voted me in, they voted me in with a purpose - to take action.

CORNISH: That's former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. She died today from a stroke. She was 87. Throughout the day, people across the world have been reflecting on her life and legacy.

BLOCK: A moment now to hear from Thatcher herself. In 1993, three years after she resigned as prime minister, she sat down for an hour-long interview with NPR. Along with the issues of the day, she talked about her time in office and the legacy she hoped to leave.

THATCHER: It was my ambition that every person should be able to become a capitalist, maybe from owning their own house. But also, be able to make savings or have shares in their own industry, so that as they got older, they had some income from their own savings or shareholdings. And we were well on the way to doing that.

BLOCK: And in order to, as Thatcher says, let everyone become a capitalist, she implemented a series of social and economic reforms known as Thatcherism; policies that still reverberate today.

CORNISH: Among the ideals of Thatcherism: Small government, deregulation, low inflation, and the privatization of public industry. Much like Reaganism here in the United States, it bitterly divided Britain. Thatcher has also become synonymous with a bullying style of politics and an uncanny ability to dominate the men around her.

THATCHER: I think you've probably heard me say or heard that I have said, give me six strong men and true and I will get the policies through. And I'm not sure that we always had six strong men and true. I did promote people on grounds of their ability. Although sometimes they were absolutely against the things that I was doing, and then I did later change them for other people who came up - some younger people who came up.

If I saw a person who I thought had great ability and would do a job well - even though he was not wholly Thatcherite - I would promote him. Indeed, I did so within three weeks of leaving. Mind you, if they in fact stopped what I believed in, well, obviously they would have to decide whether they resigned or not.

But I, in my early days, did not have a mass of resignations because they waited to see whether the policies that I was implementing would work. They hung on to see. And you often get that in politics. And, of course, it did.

BLOCK: Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in a 1993 interview, with NPR's TALK OF THE NATION.

Thatcher died today from a stroke. She was 87. We have more coverage of her legacy elsewhere in the program and at NPR.org.

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