In 1981, less than two years after she had been elected as Britain's first woman prime minister, Margaret Thatcher was deemed unpopular and out of touch. Unemployment had risen to levels not seen since the 1930s, and the state's finances were foundering. Her chancellor of the exchequer delivered what became known as the 'no hope' budget in March, which marked the beginning of a period of an almost unprecedentedly broad range of political challenges: hunger strikes and violent protests in Northern Ireland, urban riots in London and Liverpool, and visible discontent with Thatcher from within the Conservative Party.
And yet by September 14, when Thatcher sacked 4 mutinous grandees from her cabinet, the prime minister had firmly reasserted her authority. These extraordinary six months would come to define the Conservative Party's most successful and modern leader, who reshaped the ideas and direction of conservatism around the world. To her detractors she may have been a harsh, uncaring and dogmatic leader who made the country a more unequal, materialistic and brutal place, but to her supporters, she was nothing less than a Conservative savior who prevented Britain from becoming an ungovernable socialist state. The 1983 general election would prove a triumph.
Kwasi Kwarteng intimately captures this shopkeeper's daughter's unique leadership qualities -- from her pulpit-style and New Testament imagery to her emphasis on personal moral responsibility -- that saw her through some of the most adverse conditions facing any world leader in modern peacetime.
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