Margaret Thatcher Quotes

Margaret Thatcher (1925 - 2013)

Margaret Thatcher, 1985
David Montgomery / Getty Images

The Iron Lady of British politics, Margaret Thatcher was the longest continuously serving prime minister since 1827. Her conservative politics led to the implementation of such radical policies as the poll tax.

Quotes by Margaret Thatcher

As a longstanding British leader, Thatcher made many memorable statements on a variety of issues, including freedom, politics, economics, and foreign relations, as the following quotes demonstrate.

The Younger Generation

The younger generation doesn't want equality and regimentation, but opportunity to shape their world while showing compassion to those in real need.
Let our children grow tall, and some taller than others if they have it in them to do so.
We lost 255 of our best young men. I felt every one. (about the Falklands War)

Politics, Politicians, and Political Battles

In politics if you want anything said, ask a man. If you want anything done, ask a woman.
The wisdom of hindsight, so useful to historians and indeed to authors of memoirs, is sadly denied to practicing politicians.
If you just set out to be liked, you would be prepared to compromise on anything at any time, and you would achieve nothing.
I love argument, I love debate. I don't expect anyone just to sit there and agree with me, that's not their job.
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.
If my critics saw me walking over the Thames they would say it was because I couldn't swim.
I'm extraordinarily patient provided I get my own way in the end.
Standing in the middle of the road is very dangerous; you get knocked down by the traffic from both sides.
To me, consensus seems to be the process of abandoning all beliefs, principles, values, and policies. So it is something in which no one believes and to which no one objects.
U-turn if you want to. The lady's not for turning.
You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.
I am in politics because of the conflict between good and evil, and I believe that in the end good will triumph.
I wouldn't want to be prime minister; you have to give yourself 100 percent.

Women and Leadership

Any woman who understands the problems of running a home will be nearer to understanding the problems of running a country.
I've got a woman's ability to stick to a job and get on with it when everyone else walks off and leaves it.
It will be years—and not in my time—before a woman will lead the party or become prime minister. (1974)
I owe nothing to Women's Lib.
The battle for women's rights has been largely won.
There is no such thing as Society. There are individual men and women, and there are families.
It may be the cock that crows, but it is the hen that lays the eggs.
The woman's mission is not to enhance the masculine spirit, but to express the feminine; hers is not to preserve a man-made world but to create a human world by the infusion of the feminine element into all of its activities.
Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren't.

Religion and Faith

Do you think you would ever have heard of Christianity if the Apostles had gone out and said, "I believe in consensus?"
As God once said, and I think rightly...

Democracy, Democratic Nations, and Government

Democratic nations must try to find ways to starve the terrorist and the hijacker of the oxygen of publicity on which they depend.
The government has failed the nation. It has lost credibility and it is time for it to go.  (just before her win in 1979)
All attempts to destroy democracy by terrorism will fail. It must be business as usual.

Success, Toughness, and Longevity

You need quite good shock absorbers and a sense of humor to be the Prime Minister's child.
To wear your heart on your sleeve isn't a very good plan; you should wear it inside, where it functions best.
What is success? I think it is a mixture of having a flair for the thing that you are doing; knowing that it is not enough, that you have got to have hard work and a certain sense of purpose.
Look at a day when you are supremely satisfied at the end. it's not a day when you lounge around doing nothing; it's when you've had everything to do and you've done it.
I hope to go on and on. There is so much still to do. (just before winning a third term)
I have no wish to retire for a very long time. I am still bursting with energy. (just before winning a third term)
I think I have become a bit of an institution—you know, the sort of thing people expect to see around the place.

General Quotes

After almost any major operation, you feel worse before you convalesce. But you do not refuse the operation.
And what a prize we have to fight for: no less than the chance to banish from our land the dark divisive clouds of Marxist socialism.
You cannot have the dream of building up your own fortune by your own hopes, your own hands, and your own British guts.
You don't tell deliberate lies, but sometimes you have to be evasive.
A world without nuclear weapons would be less stable and more dangerous for all of us.
Europe will never be like America. Europe is a product of history. America is a product of philosophy.
Economics are the method; the object is to change the soul.
We want a society where people are free to make choices, to make mistakes, to be generous and compassionate. This is what we mean by a moral society; not a society where the state is responsible for everything, and no one is responsible for the state.

Quotes About Margaret Thatcher

Thatcher's long period of leadership and her frankness drew many comments about her style and views, both critical and positive, as these statements show.

Criticism of Thatcher

She approaches the problems of our country with all the one-dimensional subtlety of a comic-strip. – Denis Healey
Attila the Hen. – Clement Freud
For the past few months, she has been charging about like some bargain basement Boadicea. – Denis Healey
When Mrs. Thatcher says she has a nostalgia for Victorian values I don't think she realizes that 90 percent of her nostalgia would be satisfied in the Soviet Union. –  Peter Ustinov
Reality hasn't really intervened in my mother's life since the seventies. – Carol Thatcher, Margaret Thatcher's daughter

Praise for Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher's great strength seems to be the better people know her, the better they like her. But, of course, she has one great disadvantage—she is a daughter of the people and looks trim, as the daughters of the people desire to be. Shirley Williams has such an advantage over her because she's a member of the upper-middle class and can achieve that kitchen-sink-revolutionary look that one cannot get unless one has been to a really good school. – Rebecca West

Determination and Longevity

Thatcher's impatience is undiminished. Head thrust forward, purse in hand, she marches on, pursuing her crusade to put the "great" back into Great Britain. –  Los Angeles Times, about her third term
She's never seen an institution she doesn't want to bash with her handbag. – Anthony Bevins
The thought that she might not be right has never crossed Mrs. Thatcher's mind. It is a strength in a politician. – Labor Party deputy leader Ray Hattersley

General Quotes

In Margaret Thatcher's view, her sex is an irrelevancy, and she is annoyed by people who make too much of a fuss over it. –  Allan Mayer, biographer
Although a populist, she is the ultimate argument against the contention that a political leader needs, in her person, to be unpopular. – Hugh Young, biographer
Thatcher's memoirs are essential for an understanding of her time because they capture all the qualities of her character and, inevitably, some of her defects as well. They are lucid, opinionated, self-assured, wide-ranging and indispensable. – Henry Kissinger
The biggest story of 1982 was the Falklands war. The second biggest also involved my mother... and me. – Mark Thatcher, Margaret Thatcher's son, about his disappearance in 1982 during an automobile race
I don't pretend that I'm anything but an honest-to-God right-winger—those are my views and I don't care who knows 'em. – Denis Thatcher in 1970 about himself
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Lewis, Jone Johnson. "Margaret Thatcher Quotes." ThoughtCo, Jul. 31, 2021, Lewis, Jone Johnson. (2021, July 31). Margaret Thatcher Quotes. Retrieved from Lewis, Jone Johnson. "Margaret Thatcher Quotes." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 22, 2023).