Margaret Thatcher: In her own words

A selection of The Iron Lady's memorable quotes

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Indy Politics

Margaret Thatcher was renowned for her no-nonsense turn of phrase.

* “I wasn't lucky. I deserved it” - Comment on receiving a school prize, aged nine.

* “There is no alternative” - Comment made on several occasions about her economic policy, giving rise, through the initial letters of the word, to her nickname “Tina”.

* “It will be years - and not in my time - before a woman will lead the party or become Prime Minister” - Speech, 1974.

* “Let our children grow tall, and some taller than others if they have it in them to do so” - Speech in United States in 1975.

* “I stand before you tonight in my green chiffon evening gown, my face softly made up, my fair hair gently waved. The Iron Lady of the Western World? Me? A cold war warrior? Well, yes - if that is how they wish to interpret my defence of values and freedoms fundamental to our way of life” - Speech in 1976 after the Kremlin dubbed her the Iron Lady.

* “I can trust my husband not to fall asleep on a public platform and he usually claps in the right places” - Interview, 1978.

* “Any woman who understands the problems of running a home will be nearer to understanding the problems of running a country” - Election campaign, 1979.

* “If a woman like Eva Peron with no ideals can get that far, think how far I can go with all the ideals that I have” - Interview in 1980.

* “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” - Speech at Conservative Party conference, 1980.

* “No one would have remembered the Good Samaritan if he'd only had good intentions. He had money as well” - Television interview, 1980.

* “We knew what we had to do and we went about it and did it. Great Britain is great again” - Comment at end of Falklands conflict.

* “Pennies do not come from heaven. They have to be earned here on earth” - Interview, 1982.

* “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” - Speech to Scottish Tories, 1983.

* “The National Health Service is safe in our hands” - Conservative Party conference, 1983.

* “State socialism is totally alien to the British character” - Interview, 1983.

* “That is the scale of the outrage in which we have all shared. And the fact we are gathered here, now, shocked but composed and determined, is a sign not only that this attack has failed, but that all attempts to destroy democracy by terrorism will fail” - Tory conference, 1984, a few hours after the Brighton bomb outrage which nearly killed her.

* “I think, historically, the term 'Thatcherism' will be seen as a compliment” - Speech, 1985.

* “Why, Marks and Spencer of course. Doesn't everyone?” - When asked where she bought her underwear, 1986.

* “There is no such thing as Society. There are individual men and women, and there are families” - Interview, 1987.

* “I am certain we will win the election with a good majority. Not that I am ever over-confident” - Comment during 1987 election campaign which she won with a three-figure majority.

* “We are a grandmother” - On the birth of her grandson, Michael, February, 1989.

* “The Chancellor is unassailable” - Comment about Nigel Lawson only days before he resigned from the Government in 1989.

* “I fight on. I fight to win” - Statement on November 21, 1990, after she was forced into a second ballot in the leadership battle, but she in fact withdrew before it occurred.

* “Having consulted widely among colleagues, I have concluded that the unity of the party and the prospects of victory in a general election would be better served if I stood down to enable Cabinet colleagues to enter the ballot for the leadership” - Statement the following day.

* “It's a funny old world” - Comment after her decision to quit in November 1990, pointing out that she had never lost an election in her life, yet had been forced to stand down.

* “The Mummy returns” - During the 2001 general election campaign after passing a poster publicising a film of that name.

Further reading:

Obituary: Margaret Thatcher, Britain's first and only female prime minister

Margaret Thatcher: Round-up of today's full coverage