Margaret Thatcher dead at 87

FILE - In this June 19, 2006 file photo, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, a member of the Order of the Garter, leaves St. George's Chapel in Windsor, near London, after attending the annual Garter Service where the younger sons of Queen Elizabeth, the Duke of York and the Earl of Wessex, were formally admitted to the order. Thatcher's former spokesman, Tim Bell, said the former prime minister, known to both friends and foes as "The Iron Lady," died of a stroke Monday morning, April 8, 2013. She was 87. (AP Photo/Tim Ockenden, Pool, File)
FILE - In this June 19, 2006 file photo, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, a member of the Order of the Garter, leaves St. George's Chapel in Windsor, near London, after attending the annual Garter Service where the younger sons of Queen Elizabeth, the Duke of York and the Earl of Wessex, were formally admitted to the order. Thatcher's former spokesman, Tim Bell, said the former prime minister, known to both friends and foes as "The Iron Lady," died of a stroke Monday morning, April 8, 2013. She was 87. (AP Photo/Tim Ockenden, Pool, File)

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LONDON (AP) – Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, whose conservative ideas made an enduring impact on Britain, has died. She was 87.

Her former spokesman says Thatcher died this morning of a stroke.

Thatcher, the country’s first female prime minister, re-made Britain’s economic landscape after coming into office in 1979 with a free-market philosophy and the goal of privatizing state industries. And she would wage some hard-nosed battles with the country’s labor unions.

Her influence was felt long after she left office in 1990. Tony Blair, whose Labor Party languished in opposition as the Conservative Thatcher held power for more than a decade, ended up adopting many of her views.

Thatcher’s forceful personality and hard-driving style earned her the nickname of the “Iron Lady.” It was a term that was reinforced when she led Britain into war against Argentina in 1982 after the Argentines invaded the Falkland Islands. She forced them to retreat.

In 1984, she escaped a brush with terrorism. An I-R-A bomb exploded in a hotel hosting the annual conference of the Conservative Party. It narrowly missed Thatcher, but killed five others.

The badly-divided Conservatives eventually pushed her from power in 1990, and the party has struggled since then to regain its footing.

In her later years, she grew frail after a series of small strokes, and gave up most public speaking on the advice of her doctors.

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