Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Margaret Thatcher, fully Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher, née Roberts

British Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

"There is no such thing as Society. There are individual men and women, and there are families."

"The unexpected happens."

"We need a free economy not only for the renewed material prosperity it will bring, but because it is indispensable to individual freedom, human dignity and to a more just, more honest society."

"I don’t care how much my ministers talk – as long as they do what I say."

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

"Economics are the method; the object is to change the heart and soul."

"For every idealistic peacemaker willing to renounce his self-defence in favour of a weapons-free world, there is at least one warmaker anxious to exploit the other’s good intentions."

"Constitutions have to be written on hearts, not just paper."

"The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money."

"I should therefore prefer to restrict my guidelines to the following: Don't believe that military interventions, no matter how morally justified, can succeed without clear military goals. Don't fall into the trap of imagining that the West can remake societies. Don't take public opinion for granted -- but don't either underrate the degree to which good people will endure sacrifices for a worthwhile cause. Don't allow tyrants and aggressors to get away with it. And when you fight -- fight to win."

"There are significant differences between the American and European version of capitalism. The American traditiionally emphasizes the need for limited government, light regulations, low taxes and maximum labour-market flexibility. Its success has ben shown above all in the ability to create new jobs, in which it is consistently more successful than Europe."

"Europe was created by history. America was created by philosophy."

"To me, consensus seems to be the process of abandoning all beliefs, principles, values and policies. So it is something in which no one believes and to which no one objects."

"A country's wealth need not depend on natural resources, it may even ultimately benefit from their absence."

"A man's right to work as he will, to spend what he earns, to own property, to have the State as servant and not as master: these are the British inheritance. They are the essence of a free economy. And on that freedom all our other freedoms depend."

"A well-ordered society would be one where the State only had a negative action, comparable to that of a rudder: a light pressure at the right moment to counteract the first suggestion of any loss of equilibrium."

"A man may climb Everest for himself, but at the summit he plants his country's flag."

"A world without nuclear weapons may be a dream but you cannot base a sure defense on dreams. Without far greater trust and confidence between East and West than exists at present, a world without nuclear weapons would be less stable and more dangerous for all of us."

"After almost any major operation, you feel worse before you convalesce. But you do not refuse the operation."

"Americans and Europeans alike sometimes forget how unique is the United States of America. No other nation has been created so swiftly and successfully. No other nation has been built upon an idea ? the idea of liberty. No other nation has so successfully combined people of different races and nations within a single culture. Both the founding fathers of the United States and successive waves of immigrants to your country were determined to create a new identity. Whether in flight from persecution or from poverty, the huddled masses have, with few exceptions, welcomed American values, the American way of life and American opportunities. And America herself has bound them to her with powerful bonds of patriotism and pride. The European nations are not and can never be like this. They are the product of history and not of philosophy. You can construct a nation on an idea; but you cannot reconstruct a nation on the basis of one."

"America, my friends, is the only country in the world actually founded on liberty--the only one. People went to America to be free."

"And I will go on criticizing Socialism, and opposing Socialism because it is bad for Britain ? and Britain and Socialism are not the same thing? It?s the Labor Government that have brought us record peace-time taxation. They?ve got the usual Socialist disease ? they?ve run out of other people?s money."

"All corporatism - even when practiced in societies where hard work, enterprise and cooperation are as highly valued as in Korea - encourages inflexibility, discourages individual accountability, and risks magnifying errors by concealing them."

"All attempts to destroy democracy by terrorism will fail; It must be business as usual"

"And what a prize we have to fight for: no less than the chance to banish from our land the dark divisive clouds of Marxist socialism."

"And when you fight ? fight to win."

"As God once said, and I think rightly..."

"As Prime Minister between 1979 and 1990 I had the opportunity to put these convictions into effect in economic policy - We intended policy in the 1980s to be directed towards fundamentally different goals from those of most of the post-war era. We believed that since jobs (in a free society) did not depend on government but upon satisfying customers, there was no point in setting targets for 'full' employment. Instead, government should create the right framework of sound money, low taxes, light regulation and flexible markets (including labor markets) to allow prosperity and employment to grow."

"At one end of the spectrum are the terrorist gangs within our borders, and the terrorist states which finance and arm them. At the other are the hard left operating inside our system, conspiring to use union power and the apparatus of local government to break, defy and subvert the law."

"Any leader has to have a certain amount of steel in them, so I am not that put out being called the Iron Lady."

"Any woman who understands the problems of running a home will be nearer to understanding the problems of running a country."

"Being democratic is not enough, a majority cannot turn what is wrong into right. In order to be considered truly free, countries must also have a deep love of liberty and an abiding respect for the rule of law."

"Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren't. Thanks to Maria Marquis Thoreau there are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root, and it may be that he who bestows the largest amount of time and money on the needy is doing the most by his mode of life to produce that misery which he strives in vain to relieve."

"Being prime minister is a lonely job... you cannot lead from the crowd."

"Britain is no longer in the politics of the pendulum, but of the ratchet."

"But if Saddam had been in a position credibly to threaten America or any of its allies ? or the coalition's forces ? with attack by missiles with nuclear warheads, would we have gone to the Gulf at all?"

"Children who need to be taught to respect traditional moral values are being taught that they have an inalienable right to be gay."

"Consensus is the negation of leadership."

"Consensus: The process of abandoning all beliefs, principles, values, and policies in search of something in which no one believes, but to which no one objects; the process of avoiding the very issues that have to be solved, merely because you cannot get agreement on the way ahead. What great cause would have been fought and won under the banner: ?I stand for consensus?"

"Defeat ? I do not recognize the meaning of the word!"

"Do you know, one of the greatest problems of our age is that we are governed by people who care more about feelings than they do about thoughts and ideas? Now, thoughts and ideas, that interests me."

"Democratic nations must try to find ways to starve the terrorist and the hijacker of the oxygen of publicity on which they depend."

"Disciplining yourself to do what you know is right and importance, although difficult, is the highroad to pride, self-esteem, and personal satisfaction."

"Communist regimes were not some unfortunate aberration, some historical deviation from a socialist ideal. They were the ultimate expression, unconstrained by democratic and electoral pressures, of what socialism is all about. ? In short, the state [is] everything and the individual nothing."

"Don't believe that military interventions, no matter how morally justified, can succeed without clear military goals."

"Don't allow tyrants and aggressors to get away with it."

"Do you think you would ever have heard of Christianity if the Apostles had gone out and said, "I believe in consensus?""

"Don't follow the crowd, let the crowd follow you."

"Don't fall into the trap of imagining that the West can remake societies."

"Don't take public opinion for granted ? but don't either underrate the degree to which good people will endure sacrifices for a worthwhile cause"