And so they did. The Commonwealth Committee of foreign ministers met every two months –rather than every two years as the Commonwealth typically did – and used the opportunity to issue new sanctions to keep up the pressure. Inevitably, apartheid was unsustainable. Mr. Mandela was released early in 1990 and one of the first countries he visited was Canada.
By then, Mrs. Thatcher’s own power had declined. Having survived a bomb planted by the Provisional Irish Republican Army in the Grand Hotel in Brighton at the Conservative Party conference in 1984, she fell victim to political assassins in her own caucus over her refusal to countenance a closer political and economic union with Europe – a stand that many in Britain have come to admire since the economic woes of 2008.
THE LADY’S LIFE
Margaret Hilda Roberts was born Oct. 13, 1925, in Grantham, Lincolnshire, the second of two daughters of Alfred Roberts, a grocer, Methodist lay preacher and local politician, and his wife, Beatrice. An industrious intelligent girl, she followed the poor boy’s route to success by winning a scholarship to grammar school and then a place at Somerville College, Oxford.
Although she studied to be a chemist and qualified as a lawyer, politics was her vocation. She ran twice unsuccessfully before marrying businessman and decorated Second World War veteran Denis Thatcher in December, 1951.
Their twins, Carol and Mark, were born in August, 1953. They were 6 when Mrs. Thatcher first won a seat in Finchley, a middle-class suburb in North London. Her political rise was steady. Edward Heath made her education secretary after he came to power in 1970, and she soon became infamous for nixing a program that provided free milk to schoolchildren.
Mrs. Thatcher was never a compromise or a brokerage politician. Inevitably, that created enmity in large sections of society and within the ranks of her own party. After Geoffrey Howe, her deputy prime minister and a loyalist from her first cabinet in 1979, resigned, she was challenged for the leadership by Michael Heseltine, a pro-Europe politician and former defence secretary.
In a party vote, she withstood Mr. Heseltine, but could not surmount the popularity of John Major, one of her political protégés. She resigned on Nov. 28, 1990.
After politics, she lectured widely and profitably, wrote her memoirs, sat in the House of Lords as Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven and felt no compunction about expressing her views until dementia forced her to retreat from public life.