In death it seems Margaret Thatcher is as polarizing as she was in life, with remembrances and harsh criticism volleyed about after the first and only female British Prime Minister passes away of a stroke at the age of 87.
Thatcher was in power from 1979 to 1990, and her 11 year reign reshaped British politics to this day. The bold leader earned a nickname, the “Iron Lady,” after comments she made about diplomacy and Russia during the end of the Cold War.
Ultimately, Thatcher was ousted in 1990 and slowly receded from public view, but her legacy of unapologetic conservative policy remained.
As reaction to her death today registered, fans and critics of Margaret Thatcher took to Twitter and other public fora to memorialize as well as blast the former PM, with a reaction fitting the Iron Lady’s controversial place in history.
Labor Leader Ed Miliband officially commented, saying in part:
“[Margaret Thatcher] will be remembered as a unique figure. She reshaped the politics of a whole generation. She was Britain’s first woman Prime Minister. She moved the centre ground of British politics and was a huge figure on the world stage.”
“The Labour Party disagreed with much of what she did and she will always remain a controversial figure. But we can disagree and also greatly respect her political achievements and her personal strength … She also defined the politics of the 1980s. David Cameron, Nick Clegg and I all grew up in a politics shaped by Lady Thatcher. We took different paths but with her as the crucial figure of that era.”
“She coped with her final, difficult years with dignity and courage. Critics and supporters will remember her in her prime.”
PM David Cameron said:
“Today is a truly sad day for our country. We’ve lost a great prime minister, a great leader, a great Briton. As our first woman prime minister, Margaret Thatcher succeeded against all the odds. And the real thing about Margaret Thatcher is she did not just lead our country, she saved our country. And I believe she will go down as the greatest British peacetime prime minister.”
“Today is obviously a day we should most of all think of her family. We’ve lost someone great in public life, but they’ve lost a much-loved mother and grandmother and we should think of them today.”
The UK PM also tweeted earlier, saying:
“It was with great sadness that l learned of Lady Thatcher’s death. We’ve lost a great leader, a great Prime Minister and a great Briton”
— UK Prime Minister (@Number10gov) April 8, 2013
Downing Street has addressed plans for Thatcher’s funeral pending the Queen’s approval, saying in a statement:
“Downing Street can announce that, with The Queen’s consent, Lady Thatcher will receive a Ceremonial funeral with military honours. The service will be held at St Paul’s Cathedral.”
The statement continues:
“A wide and diverse range of people and groups with connections to Lady Thatcher will be invited. The service will be followed by a private cremation. All the arrangements being put in place are in line with wishes of Lady Thatcher’s family. Further details will be published over the coming days.”
Political reaction in the UK ranged, with much of the reaction positive but some tentatively critical:
Very sad indeed to hear about the death of Baroness Thatcher. A truly great Prime Minister who transformed our country — Ed Vaizey (@edvaizey) April 8, 2013
RIP Margaret Thatcher. Whatever you think of her she will remain a political giant. End of an era. — David Lammy (@DavidLammy) April 8, 2013
Very sad to learn of the death of Margaret. She changed my life but all our lives. I doubt we will see her like again
— Lord Young(@TheLordYoung) April 8, 2013
Very sad to hear of death of Baroness Thatcher.Her memory will live long after the world has forgotten the grey suits of today’s politics.
— Boris Johnson (@MayorofLondon) April 8, 2013
I was once introduced to Margaret Thatcher as a “Scottish Tory”. Her response was a rather brilliant one-liner: “Ah, so you’re the one.” RIP
— Fraser Nelson (@frasernelson) April 8, 2013
Others were not as circumspect in their critique, saying of Thatcher’s passing:
Tramp the dirt down.
— George Galloway (@georgegalloway) April 8, 2013
Former PM Tony Blair said:
“Very few leaders get to change not only the political landscape of their country but of the world. Margaret was such a leader. Her global impact was vast. And some of the changes she made in Britain were, in certain respects at least, retained by the 1997 Labour government, and came to be implemented by governments around the world.”
Details of Margaret Thatcher’s final arrangements have not yet been finalized or released.