Margaret Thatcher, the former prime minister who was known as the “Iron Lady” of British politics, has passed away at the age of 87 after suffering a stroke, her family announced on Monday.

Britain’s longest serving prime minister of the 20th century was also the only woman to hold the leadership post. Thatcher led the Conservative Party to three straight election victories, serving in office rom 1979 to 1990.

During her tenure as prime minister, Thatcher vastly reshaped Britain with her conservative economic policies, pulling it back from 35 years of socialism and ushering in an era of privatization.

The New York Times:

But by the time she left office, the principles known as Thatcherism — the belief that economic freedom and individual liberty are interdependent, that personal responsibility and hard work are the only ways to national prosperity, and that the free-market democracies must stand firm against aggression — had won many disciples. Even some of her strongest critics accorded her a grudging respect.

At home, Mrs. Thatcher’s political successes were decisive. She broke the power of the labor unions and forced the Labour Party to abandon its commitment to nationalized industry, redefine the role of the welfare state and accept the importance of the free market.

…To her enemies she was — as Denis Healey, chancellor of the Exchequer in Harold Wilson’s government, called her — “La Pasionaria of Privilege,” a woman who railed against the evils of poverty but who was callous and unsympathetic to the plight of the have-nots. Her policies, her opponents said, were cruel and shortsighted, widened the gap between rich and poor and worsened the plight of the poorest.

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