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Margaret Thatcher

In 1975, Margaret Thatcher challenged Edward Heath for the Tory leadership simply because the candidate of the party's right wing abandoned the contest at the last minute. When she visited Heath's office to inform him of her decision, he did not even bother to look up. "You'll lose," he declared. "Good day to you."

She won.

[Thatcher herself was surprised by her success. "It will be years -- not in my time," she declared in 1974, "before a woman will become prime minister." She was elected prime minister five years later.]

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