Margaret Thatcher. Consensus: divisive
We are undoubtedly drawn to strong leaders, and from afar it is foreign policy that figures first in our perception rather than their domestic policies. So all the trauma and flak of the miners strikes and the neo-liberal free market reforms in Britain went under my radar: I didn't know, I didn't have an opinion. However as I grew up, and as Thatcher's reign continued, I began to get a clearer, more three dimensional image of who she was and where she was coming from. In this latter period the poll tax riots, distancing themselves from what is now the EU, cosying up to Pinochet, and the consequences of mass unemployment and the closing down of traditional industries became prominent issues marking out the legacy of Thatcherism.
I can't recall the exact comment verbatim; but in her glowering, patronising, tone she said the sanctions - which were about restricting imports of South African gold - wouldn't do anything, would have little effect. I think she said it would be "very, very, very" insignificant. I'm not sure if it was just the way she said it, with that awful intonation of hers like she was scalding and lecturing, but from what she said she was supporting the Apartheid government and was undermining the group's own sanctions. For me that was a turning point. She became a complete hell bitch Nazi from then on. And everything I've seen or read since has confirmed this. She was on the wrong side a lot of the time.
One of the best accounts - OK, only accounts - I've read of Thatcher is from Alan Clark's diaries. He's an absolute acolyte of hers and the sexual-power admiration he frequently cites is equated to Bodicea. He describes a mesmerising figure kept in a bubble of yes-men and how she became detatched, before eventually being done in by her own fickle Cabinet. She would be rated as one of the most successful British PM's, but also one of the most divisive. Check out the Guardian's articles today:
Tributes pour in for Margaret Thatcher
Parliament recalled from recess as world leaders pay tribute to one of the most divisive figures in modern British politics .Thatcher's dark legacy has still not disappeared
Days before he died in 2003, Guardian columnist and Thatcher biographer Hugo Young wrote an epitaph for the prime minister who changed Britain forever
Downing Street announced that Britain's first female prime minister would receive a ceremonial funeral, with gun carriage, military procession and a service at St Paul's Cathedral, in the style of the funerals of Diana, Princess of Wales, and the Queen Mother.
One rung below a state funeral – as normally accorded to sovereigns – a ceremonial funeral requires the consent of the Queen, which has been given. There will be no public lying in state, at Thatcher's own request.
One Whitehall source said: "It will look and feel like a state funeral to all intents and purposes."
Thatcher was understood to fear that a parliamentary bill, which would have to be passed to permit public funds for a state funeral, could prompt a divisive debate.
No, she wouldn't have wanted to be divisive!