INTRODUCTION: Mrs. Margaret Thatcher, leader of the British Conservative Party (the principal opposition party) leaves?
INTRODUCTION: Mrs. Margaret Thatcher, leader of the British Conservative Party (the principal opposition party) leaves London tonight (April 5) to begin a visit to China, Japan and Hong Kong. After this, she will be staying at home, concentrating on domestic politics. She believes there is likely to be a general election in Britain with in the next six months or so, which could lead to her becoming the country's first woman Prime Minister.
SYNOPSIS: Mrs. Thatcher with her husband, Denis, at their London Home on their silver wedding day last year. they met when she was a young Parliamentary candidate in the late 1940s, and he was a local businessman and party worker.
She was born margaret Roberts, the daughter of a shopkeeper in Grantham in the English midlands. Recently, she revisited her old school there, where she had been an outstanding pupil. She went on to Oxford University, took a degree in chemistry, and later qualified as a barrister, specialising in tax law.
She first entered Parliament in 19569 -- seventeen years before she lined up with the Prime Minister, Mr. Callaghan, to lead their parties from the House of Commons into the House of Lords for the state opening of the session. She had already held Cabinet office under Mr. Edward Heath.
Mrs. Thatcher succeeded Mr. Heath as party leader, and relations between them were rather strained until they were publicly reconciled at a party conference. Her election was interpreted as a move to the right. One thing that commended her to the Conservative Party was her fighting spirit.
One doubt her fellow members had in electing her leader was her inexperience of foreign affairs. Her visit to the Middle East early last year was one of several she has made to remedy this. She was welcomed by President Sadat of Egypt and President Assad of Syria. But she attracted unfavourable attention in Moscow. After a warning she gave about Soviet military might, the Soviet press called her "a cold-war warrior" and "the Iron lady".
She got a few minutes of Dr. Kissinger's time, and some compliments, on one of the Secretary of State's flying visits to London.
Mr. and Mrs. Thatcher have two children, a boy and a girl, who are twins in their early twenties. The daughter, Carol, will be going with her mother on her Far East tour.