Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Thatcherisms: 'If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman'

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher addresses a National Press Club luncheon in Washington Monday, June 26, 1995.

Charles Tasnadi/AP

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher – who died Monday from a stroke at age 87 – retired from public engagements in 2002 following a series of small strokes, and was only occasionally seen in public since then. Here are memorable quotes from her public life.

"If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman." – Speech to National Union of Townswomen's Guilds Conference on May 20, 1965

"Ladies and gentlemen, I stand before you tonight in my red 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 of freedoms fundamental to our way of life." - January 31, 1976

Story continues below advertisement

"I just owe almost everything to my own father. I really do. He brought me up to believe all the things that I do believe and they're just the values on which I've fought the Election. And it's passionately interesting for me that the things that I learned in a small town, in very modest home, are just the things that I believe have won the Election." – Thatcher's remarks on becoming Prime Minister (St. Francis's prayer) on May 4, 1979

"You turn if you want to. The lady's not for turning." – Speech to Conservative Party Conference on October 10, 1980

"I am extraordinarily patient – provided I get my own way in the end." – European Council meeting on March 31, 1982

"I like Mr. Gorbachev. We can do business together." – A TV interview with the BBC on December 17, 1984

"I think we have gone through a period when too many children and people have been given to understand 'I have a problem, it is the Government's job to cope with it!' or 'I have a problem, I will go and get a grant to cope with it!' 'I am homeless, the Government must house me!' and so they are casting their problems on society and who is society? There is no such thing! There are individual men and women and there are families and no government can do anything except through people and people look to themselves first." – Thatcher's interview for 'Women's Own' on September 23, 1987

"You know, if you just set out to be liked, you would be prepared to compromise on anything, wouldn't you, at any time? And you would achieve nothing!" – On her 10th anniversary as Prime Minister on May 3, 1989

"I am not immortal, but I've got a lot left in me yet." - September 9, 1990

Story continues below advertisement

– Sources: Margaret Thatcher Foundation, The Associated Press

Report an error Editorial code of conduct Licensing Options
As of December 20, 2017, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles as we switch to a new provider. We are behind schedule, but we are still working hard to bring you a new commenting system as soon as possible. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to