Margaret Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher quotes

Quotes by and about Margaret Thatcher

(Continued from her main entry on the site.)

Thatcher: "My policies are based not on ... theory, but on things. ... An honest day's work for an honest day's pay; live within your means; put by a nest egg for a rainy day; pay your bills on time; support the police."

Thatcher: "Look at a day when you are supremely satisfied at the end. It is not a day when you lounge around doing nothing; it's when you've had everything to do and you've done it."

Thatcher: "I came to office with one deliberate intent: to change Britain from a dependent to a self-reliant society - from a give-it-to-me, to a do-it-yourself nation. A get-up-and-go, instead of a sit-back-and-wait-for-it Britain."

Thatcher: "Defeat - I do not recognize the meaning of the word!"

Thatcher: "When you fight - fight to win."

Thatcher: "I favor an approach to statecraft that embraces principles, as long as it is not stifled by them; and I prefer such principles to be accompanied by steel."

Thatcher: "[The problem with socialists is that] they always run out of other people's money."

Thatcher: "[Socialists] make a financial mess. They always run out of other people's money. It's quite a characteristic of them."

Thatcher: "A world without nuclear weapons may be a dream but you cannot base a sure defense on dreams."

Thatcher: "I have often said that it is the ordinary daily load which in a way can take more out of you than the crisis, because in a crisis the adrenaline flows. The test is whether you can take the ordinary daily responsibility. And that in the end is what you have to do [as the Prime Minister]. I'm always very pleased when people say to me that 'there have been many men who have come in and they've looked a bit more worn and torn after six years than you do.' And again I think when you're used to looking after a house and keeping the children, then you do just keep going."

Thatcher: "You don't compromise on things that matter. ... Sometimes I'm called inflexible. ... You help the police. ... You pay your tax on time, and so on. Because this is how society is run."

Thatcher: "[People say you are] hard-hearted and all of these things when you actually do what you ought to do."

Thatcher: "I like Mr. Gorbachev. We can do business together."

Thatcher: "I was heavily influenced by reading [Milton Friedman's] book."

Nicholas Owen: "Right from the beginning Margaret Thatcher was a woman with determination and drive. ... She was never frightened. She was a formidable character right from the beginning."

Gordon Spencer: "What people love is the smack of firm government. And whether it was real or just an impression, people felt Margaret Thatcher gave them the smack of firm government."

Nicholas Owen: "You might hate her, but you really felt she knew what she was doing."

Nicholas Owen: "From the beginning Margaret Thatcher was someone who stood out from the crowd. At first she stood out from the crowd in a rather annoying way. There was something rather strident about her. There was something about her voice that actually grated on you a little. There was something about her that seemed just a little bit too keen. But there was always something special about her."

[Fellow alumni:] "I remember she was the first woman ever to become President of the Oxford University Conservative Association. ... I can see her in my mind's eye taking the chair at one of the meetings and very impressive she was too. I think her strength of character and clarity of thought came out very early on, and everyone was impressed by the way she ran its affairs."

[Childhood friend:] "I think she was determined to be a member of Parliament from a very early day."

[Her private secretary:] "[She was] the kind who gets [the children] out of bed after the operation because it's for their own good."

[Her daughter:] "As a child I was frightened of her. ... Unloved is not the right word, but I never felt I made the grade."


Thatcher's Father's Influence

Nicholas Owen: "Her personal hero was undoubtedly her father. He was ... a local politician ... a very upright man, a man of very decided views about what was right and what was wrong."

Gordon Spencer: "Her father taught her how to lead. She watched how he was the one who was prepared to go for it. It was interesting that she hardly ever referred to her mother. It was always her father. Her father was the idol. Her father was the one obviously who encouraged her to go to grammar school, to work hard. Ever afterwards she acknowledged the fact that she learned her basic values at her father's knee."

[Interviewer: "In your house, how lively was the discussion? Did you actually argue with your father? Did you stand up for yourself?"]
Thatcher: "Oh yes, we argued, and we were taught to argue. This was part of it. Yes. Never forget: You must make up your own mind. You must learn to examine things. You must learn to think about them. Oh yes, we were taught to argue - and we did!"

Thatcher: "One Sunday evening I said to my father, 'My friends are going out for a walk, and I would like to go with them.' And he said to me, 'Never do things because other people do them. That's a very bad thing to do. You make up your own mind what you want to do and then you do it, but never just follow the crowd.' Which was very tough, but very good advice. I didn't go out for that walk. ... And then my father would say something else: 'If you set your hand to a task, you must complete it. It is easy to be a starter, but are you a sticker-to?' It's easy enough to begin a job; it's harder to see it through."

Thatcher: "[In office] I stuck to the policies I said I'd do through thick and thin. That's what my father had taught me."


Gordon Spencer: "She had a voice a bit like a mistress in a school. She talked to everybody as if they were children."

Francois Mitterrand: "[She has] the eyes of Caligula and the mouth of Marilyn Monroe."

Jacques Chirac: "What does she want, this housewife? My balls on a tray?"

Friedrich Hayek: "I know what is theoretically possible for Britain. But I do not know what is [practically] possible: Only Mrs. Thatcher knows that."