The country’s saviour. The destroyer of the nation. Two ways in which Baroness Thatcher will be remembered after her death this afternoon. Either way you look at it, the country today has lost a colossus of modern British politics.
Britain will, of course, react in different ways to the death of a woman who has caused more divisions amongst people than any politician in modern times. Whilst some will mark Thatcher’s passing as a hugely saddening moment where one of the nation’s greatest leaders is no more, some will reflect on the life of a woman who, in their eyes, shattered Britain and ensured that it was a shadow of its former self.
But what both sides cannot deny is that Thatcher left a legacy that is unrivalled in modern Britain. The supporters of Thatcher will point to her unwavering desire to give people a stake in society, allowing the ordinary person to buy up council houses and to purchase shares in companies such as BT and British Gas, just two of the many companies that were privatised.
Indeed, it was her economic legacy that will be perhaps most remembered. A shift from focusing on fiscal policy to monetary policy in order to ensure economic stability has been adopted not only by successive governments in Britain, but also across the world.
The Falklands War earned her the respect of much of the country, displaying her steadfast intentions to never cave in to any pressure. This stubbornness translated itself at home also, ultimately drawing the criticism of her party.
For many, she also epitomised the spirit of “working class done good” and did much more for women than people give her credit for. Born into a working class grocer’s family, she fought gallantly to earn a place at Oxford, and subsequently become the first and only female Prime Minister Britain has ever had.
Nevertheless, Thatcher has also left a legacy which for some is utterly despicable. Her rejection of consensus politics made her a hugely divisive figure, and opposition to the policies of the self-confessed “conviction politician” produced some of the most difficult social times Britain has ever seen.
Her desire to reduce the size of the state so vigorously and the aforementioned shift to focus on private enterprise were the final nails in the coffin for already failing manufacturing industries and saw unemployment rise to over three million.
Her biggest critics, however, will always be those in the north of England and Scotland, as a result of what many saw as an assault on the mining industry. Indeed, the war between the National Union of Miners and Thatcher ruined many of these areas which have yet to fully recover.
Whatever your views are on Thatcher, her dogged spirit and seemingly unbreakable backbone are something to be admired; not since have we had a politician who has unshakably continued in the face of mass opposition and been considered by many since to be correct to do so. Indeed, Mrs Thatcher herself said “you may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.”
And so, the original marmite politician, the Iron Lady is no longer with us, but her legacy will remain and, like Mrs Thatcher, quite probably won’t be for turning.