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Monday, 27 November, 2000, 11:52 GMT
Does Thatcher's legacy remain?

Ten years ago today, Margaret Thatcher resigned as prime minister. The Iron Lady had been in power for eleven years.

She led the country to victory in the Falklands war. Her admirers credit her with protecting Britain's interests in Europe, and spreading home and share ownership to the masses.

For her detractors she was the prime minister who created mass unemployment, destroyed industries - most notably mining - isolated Britain in Europe and believed there was no such thing as society.

Is Thatcherism still alive in Britain? Does her legacy continue? Are you missing Maggie?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


Your reaction


Thatcher was the most evil leader we ever had

Kevin, UK
Thatcher was the most evil leader we ever had. Her hard hand, unsympathetic attitude and desire to rob the poor to reward the rich caused great misery and suffering for thousands of people. While Yuppies laughed and swilled champagne, people died because of her policies. Iron lady - selfish, heartless, uncaring, cold as steel. Why Blair wants to emulate her is beyond belief. Who can remember her infamous 'there is no such thing as society' speech? Sums her up really!
Kevin, UK

My late Granddad once described Maggie Thatcher as a 'Female Hitler', need we say more.
Paul Evans, UK

I wonder if those people criticising the Thatcher legacy of "selfishness" are those who support the New Labour culture of individual "rights" at the expense of all else? I also invite people who were adults before 1979 to testify to the idea that Britain was perfect and equal in those good old days.
Kevin Donnelly, England

If you want to know if Thatcher's legacy remains, you need look no further than Railtrack. A previously state run industry which was privatised to make money for tax cuts and has failed Britain ever since. Thatcher would be proud.
Jonathan, UK

Last week there was a repeat broadcast of a programme on Mrs Thatcher's fall. Her arrogance at seeing her personal tragedy as a national tragedy just served to jog my memory of the joyous day of her political demise.
Terry Murphy, UK


The strongest woman leader since Jeanne d'Arc

Werner L. Stunkel, USA
Lady Thatcher will always be remembered by Americans as the strongest woman leader since Jeanne d'Arc and a professional associate of Ronald Reagan. The two of them ended the Cold War and brought about a new level of security and comfort for the world.
Werner L. Stunkel, USA

Maggie was the greatest peacetime leader in the twentieth century. Her biggest mistakes were allowing Nigel Lawson to shadow the Deutche Mark and taking Britain into the ERM. This is what in the end tarnished her legacy to the charge that all she did was boom and bust economics. I guess her problem was that she was not Thatcherite enough.
Shimon Aharon, Israel

Some contributors to this debate believe Margaret Thatcher was an asset to their country, and see her as the one who 'restored British pride', as somebody put it. I would like to tell these people that in many European countries Britain under Thatcher was not perceived as proud and independent but rather as a satellite state of the USA. This self-delusion of Britain's independence and prosperity is the true legacy of Thatcher.
Edwina Ramsey, Norway (ex UK)

Given a choice between clueless Ted Heath, witless John Major, Headmaster Heseltine, the Unspeakable Blair and Lady Thatcher I would choose Margaret every time. Although I feel her refusal to scrap the poll tax was unacceptable she gave back this nation its self-respect and freed us from the tyranny of the unions, the failed economic dogma of socialism and stood against the dangers posed by a European superstate.
James Egremont, England


Thatcher turned this country around

Mike Gore, UK
Once again I am saddened and amazed at some peoples reading of events. Thatcher turned this country around and encouraged people to aspire and take responsibility for themselves rather than expect the State to take care of everything. The massive unemployment and subsequent pain for so many was a necessary evil that accompanied the structural changes that this country had to endure, as any o-level economist could tell you.
Blair tries to bask in the glory of a flexible and thriving economy, something he has done nothing to bring about and then he bemoans the past hardship that got us there. If nothing else Thatcher was a patriot and cared passionately for the people of this country, despite some of the vitriol on these pages.
mike gore, UK

The only legacy of any importance from the Thatcher years was that she made the Labour party sit up, take notice of the real world and started thinking about the people instead of itself. In that I have to congratulate her accomplishments
Andrew Fitzpatrick, Wales, UK


Thatcherism caused so much damage to this country

Brian Pithouse, UK
Thatcherism caused so much damage to this country. She and her cabinet brought the country to its knees through her policies, and particularly by cheating the pensioners of their dues through Serps and by linking pensions to inflation and not to earnings.
Brian Pithouse, UK

I left full-time education during one of the worst ever periods for employment, the global recession of the early 1980s. My experience and understanding were limited and my memory was short, but I'd soaked up the caste prejudice of council-estate dependency culture and I knew Maggie Thatcher was the Antichrist, somehow magically responsible for all the ills that had rotted away the structure of Britain's collectivist economy over the previous 20 years.
Then, as I grew older, I learned to distinguish between opinions and facts, between slogans and arguments, and I grew up. It's sad to read from some of your correspondents' remarks that others of my generation are still locked into the intellectual bad habits of some early 1980s timewarp.
Henry Case, UK

Thatchers legacy is still here. How could it be otherwise, 11 years of greed, selfishness and inward looking arrogance cannot be erased in ten years. However there is no doubting the fact that she was a brilliant politician, who else could have persuaded the very people she and conservative party despised (the working class) to vote for her in droves.
conal presho, England

The very essence of Thatcherism revolves around the concept of selfishness. While I do not doubt that she is one of the great minds of classical economics, she has left Britain a drug and crime ridden society. And is this still alive today? Yes. The situation left was far too severe to deal with in just ten years.
Daniel, England


She led from the front and everyone new her position on issues which she never fudged

Anthony Simmons, England/Jamaica
She was strong leader (views and actions) She led from the front and everyone new her position on issues which she never fudged The current poll seeking and popularity seeking Government is not what we need Principles first, popularity last
Anthony Simmons, England/Jamaica

Ms Thatcher refused to keep handing out money to companies that were not efficient. What could possibly be seen as wrong with this? Unions have to accept the productivity factor of business. As a tax payer I do not want my money thrown away uselessly to communities that refuse to change. Ms Thatcher's stance with the Coal Unions was essential and forward thinking.
Mike, HK

For Thatcher's legacy, one only has to look at the state of the nation's railways. After the 1982 ASLEF dispute, her government set out to deliberately starve BR of investment by continual reduction of the annual subsidy. Lord Cullen, please examine.
David Copping, United Kingdom

If the Argentineans invaded the Falklands again, Blair would negotiate a cease fire in return for several billion pounds, which he can then use to reduce taxes in the next budget. Maggie never would.
Alex, Wales


"I used to own shares in water, gas, electricity and Telecom, but then the government sold them all" - Stephen Fry

Neil Gage, UK
"I used to own shares in water, gas, electricity and Telecom, but then the government sold them all" - Stephen Fry Of course her legacy remains. We now have the terrible situation where a Labour (sic) government believes in privatisation. A choice between right wing or right wing is not a democracy. Also her era ushered in the diabolical idea that it was ok for the police to use anti terrorist legislation to undermine legitimate demonstrations. Hence the bugging of veal export and road building protesters.
Neil Gage, UK

Of course Thatcher's legacy remains - that's why we have low unemployment (compared with the socialist Continent), low taxes, light regulation and individual liberty. Incidentally, these are all the things Labour are now busily trying to get rid of: by burdening business with social legislation including the minimum wage, a rising tax burden (though mainly through the use of regressive indirect taxes), new regulations and red tape and a rabid intolerance of those who do not live their lives as the ruling elite see fit.
Mark Miall, England

She took power from a Labour government who only thought about the "people". The country's economy was in a mess. She then though only about the "economy" and to hell with the social consequences of any of her actions. So what we have inherited is a brilliant economy, with businesses that never consider the suffering that their hard nose decisions cause families. Labour have taken over the mantle and ignore the "people" as much as Thatcher did. New Labour are Thatchers children.
Steve Mac, England


At the end of this century Thatcherism will still be remembered - but Blairism?

Anna, London, UK
The Thatcher legacy is definitely alive in Britain today. Tony Blair won the last election by adopting Thatcherite policies, realising that was what the British public wanted. Margaret Thatcher will go down in history as one of the great British Prime Ministers. At the end of this century Thatcherism will still be remembered - but Blairism?
Anna, London, UK

Margaret Thatcher's "scorched earth" economic policy in Wales has left many communities here drug and crime ridden. I don't think the woman loses any sleep over this though she should. Her legacy is still carried on by Tony Blair who has abandoned the very people who supported the Labour party through the dark years of Thatcher's reign of terror.
Steve, Wales

What is her legacy? A lazy, selfish, arrogant, bigoted nation, more inward-looking and xenophobic than ever, where no one cares about anything, and no one does anything about anything. A nation where we are led to believe that the majority of the people would rather Britain became a vassal state of the USA than embraced the cultural diversity of our European neighbours, where the Sun and Daily Mail are the chief shapers of public opinion. "This once-proud nation" is about the best way of putting it.
Dave Topham, UK


Why, oh why, did we let her go?

Roy Chapman, UK
It's interesting to compare the state of the nation in 1979 and 1997. In 1979 the country was a mess, in 1997 it had its problems but was a lot healthier. People blame the rising unemployment in the early 80's on Maggie, the same people point to the rising prosperity today and praise Gordon Brown. They are wrong. Maggie inherited a mess and made the country better. Brown inherited an improved country and is doing his hardest to put it back to 1979. Maggie will be remembered as the last conviction politician, the last PM to do what he/she believed in. None of today's politicians (Hague included) have an ounce of her vision and conviction. Why, oh why, did we let her go?
Roy Chapman, UK

It has become fashionable in recent years to hate Lady Thatcher. These same people do not bother to consider the alternative at the time. Red Labour. Not Tony Blair's watered down version. Thatcher handed the UK 11 years of tough love, and the fickle British public don't like change. Idealist tree-huggers and cynics in this country are so frustrating to people with basic common sense. Do you want to help the poor? So do I. Which is why I donate to charities. Before Thatcher, the Callaghan government was ruining the country with its policies of welfare state-ism. If this had continued, the United Kingdom would closely resemble modern day Russia. I don't know about everyone else, but I thank Thatcher for dragging us out of the path to an unthinkable society.
Howard, US/UK

Sadly, yes, her legacy remains: A crumbling health service, a disaster of an education system. No public transport to speak of. No industrial base, an overload of service industries and a selfish, bigoted, racist society. All those people who say that it she stood for hard work and good rewards: tell that to pensioners, who have worked hard all their lives, only to have the Tories erode all the free benefits they were promised (free health care and a decent pension to live on after retirement) I'm no fan of Labour, by any means, but I am so glad Thatcher is not in power now! Pity she still feels compelled to speak publicly though!
Iain Alexander, UK


She should have bowed out of politics years ago

Edward, England
Margaret Thatcher was without doubt one of the strongest and most influential leaders of the modern era, and it would display a complete misunderstanding of politics to deny that Britain would be as self-assured today without her input over her terms of office. However, her xenophobia was always her least attractive feature, as it is of the modern Conservative party. She should have bowed out of politics years ago. Rearing her ugly head once in a while is mere vanity, while she displays an ignorance of modern international relations that is woefully inadequate. Her presence on the modern political stage is certainly more harmful than helpful.
Edward, England

YES her legacy continues today. It continues in the inner-city slums which she created, it remains in the forgotten mining industries and it survives in the right-wing attitude prevalent in the Tory party towards Europe. She may have some good, but the poor still got poorer, the excluded still got rejected by her me-me society and Europe had an agitator on its borders. Someone should remind her that her time in office is history now and that her remarks about the Rapid Response Force just shows how out-dated, misplaced and irrelevant she has become.
Riad, UK

Whilst not everything she did will remain in people's minds as positive, there can be no doubt that she modernised the UK economy and the general workforce. The UK has one of the most flexible workforces in Europe, and we are better off for it. Here in Europe people are too ready to rely on governments to help them instead of helping themselves. I often see in these discussions people complaining about nanny states interfering with their lives, yet it is so different when they want something out of it themselves.
Mark, UK / Netherlands


You are joking aren't you?

Terry Green, England
Miss her? You are joking aren't you? This woman was the most divisive leader that this country, and arguably any democracy, has ever had. Her lack of compassion was at times breathtaking. I will celebrate the anniversary of her painful fall from grace. She serves to remind us that no matter how much the present government may disappoint, nothing that they may be capable of will ever rank alongside her darkest deeds (too numerous to mention).
Terry Green, England

In some respects, Maggie left a lot that is still with us. Love her or hate her, she did a lot of good for Britain. No wimp she, unlike our present and previous incumbents! What we need is another 'Maggie'!
John C., Warwick, England

The Baroness was the perfect leader for a war-time Britain, and would be the best person for the job if a major conflict broke out again, but she is just not a great woman for winning over the masses. We need to realise that while Britain would follow the US to Hell and back, the Americans would not do the same for the British. In the long run Europe might be the better partner, and if it does not work out, we can always dissolve the whole thing. But remember that by disassociating yourself from the European initiative you are missing the chance to influence the direction it is taking.
Michael, Ireland

A crumbling rail network, a decimated NHS, big corporations running the show, a massive north-south divide, rampant nationalism in the media, and an offensively right-wing Tory party. Oh yes, Thatcher's legacy is far from over.
Toby, UK

Maggie's greatest legacy is the creation of New Labour. All she need do now is to tighten the bolt on Tony Blair's neck.
Mac, Scotland

Thatcher wasn't perfect - no human can be. But she was infinitely better than any of the clowns currently in office. Come back Maggie - someone has to stop Phony Tony from destroying this once-proud nation.
Karl Peters, UK


She taught us it was okay to be rich when others were poor

Matthew Treherne, United Kingdom
She taught us it was okay to be rich when others were poor; that it was okay to surrender to our basest nationalistic instinct; that it was okay to put selfishness as our highest moral purpose - but these things are not okay.
Matthew Treherne, United Kingdom

Thatcherite politics is not dead in Britain. The culture of greed and capital centralisation hangs over Britain like the stench of stagnant water in the Welsh coal mines and derelict ship yards of the North East. She ignited xenophobia and broke Britain. She took advantage of a laissez faire political culture to introduce a quasi police state. I am no socialist, lefty, wet, but I do believe in democracy. She endeavoured to kill that. The elected dictatorship was never so evident in Britain as in the years of Mrs Thatcher.
Hugh,

Maggie Thatcher was a blight on our nation and her comments today are or no use or relevance. She should retire gracefully, rather than get into arguments she knows nothing about. She still considers herself relevant, yet I believe we have moved on from her cold war style of politics.
Chetster, UK


She seems to me the only person able to verbalise the true values of conservatism for all people

David Crystal, UK
Thatcher changed Britain - very much alive and well but few will admit it. Media history of Maggie is very unkind and not even accurate. The fact is that she alone turned around this country from strikes and wasteful inefficient nanny state economy into a dynamic vibrant belief in one's own capabilities. She seems to me the only person able to verbalise the true values of conservatism for all people - without the greed of just the rich. That's where the media have got it wrong. Bring up the poor by a successful economy. It wasn't about greed.
David Crystal, UK

Unfortunately, Thatcherism - i.e. rampant consumerism is alive and well, the corporate takeover of Britain continues apace and foreign policy of war and self-interest continues. What's changed ?
Dan Sayer, UK

In Scotland we're not missing Maggie very much but there can be do doubt of her legacy. New Labour is entirely a product of the Thatcher era, best exemplified by the fact that they continue with many of her policies.
Neil Gall, Scotland

Maggie Thatcher became a bully in the end. Tony Blair started off as one. Democracy in England is a ancient swearword , no longer used in ENGLAND .
Mandi, England


Of course Margaret Thatcher's legacy remains. Ask anyone travelling by rail

Tony Hague, England
Of course Margaret Thatcher's legacy remains. Ask anyone travelling by rail. Ask anyone travelling by any other means of public transport, if any can be found. Best of all, ask Railtrack!
Tony Hague, England

She sold off council houses, destroyed communities and accused other cultures of swamping our 'proud' British heritage. A monument to nothing but a bigoted and socially irresponsible past.
Adam, England

The Thatcherite legacy is still very much present in contemporary British society, due to a number of factors. Firstly, that her 'reforms' were so holistic and fundamental, secondly, that both she and her government were in power for so long and were able to deep-root the rot. Finally that the present administration is not so completely at ideological odds with its predecessor as to bring about a necessary reversal.
Arron Fitzgerald, UK

Her legacy remains terribly in the UK. She made the British people selfish lazy and arrogant. We don't care anymore and the kids today are sad and pig headed. Many people in the UK are still image hunting from the 80's and trying to be better than the rest. Tony Blair and the other parties have an uphill struggle to put right 18 years of degradation to British life and society. The same will happen in the US should Bush be made president. She should shut up and leave the country
Mike Gough, UK


Margaret Thatcher stood to change a lot of things that are wrong with the country today

Lee Burchill, England
For me, Margaret Thatcher stood to change a lot of things that are wrong with the country today. The Thatcher ideology is one which stresses hard work, in order to better oneself. Competition, I feel is better for everyone from an overall perspective and it seems it is the lazy people in the country who tend to disagree with this comment. Why should people who work hard all their lives and pay large amounts of tax support those who do not want to work as hard? Why the government should allow this reliance on welfare is beyond me.
Lee Burchill, England

Come back, Margaret, all is forgiven. We need you.

Louis R Winkler, USA

Mrs Thatcher was the very personification of greed, arrogance and uncaring society. Her legacy was homelessness, the creation of an underclass, rocketing crime, mass unemployment and cash starved public institutions. What her admirers are keen to forget is that she never carried the majority electoral popular vote and her strength and power did not derive from her own character but because of a deeply divided left wing opposition in the Labour Party.
James Price, London

Maggie was the great moderniser. She exposed British industry to the healthy atmosphere of the market, which no one can hope to buck indefinitely. She was a courageous political leader and cared passionately about individual liberty and esteem. She will be remembered as one of the great British Prime Ministers. What will Blair be remembered for, if he is remembered at all? She is still missed.
Chris Klein, UK

Thatcher created the non-caring, non-communal society that exists in Britain today. Criminal neglect of education, health, and transport, together with greed and the removal of employee rights has made Britain an unpleasant Second world nation.
Adam, UK


Tharcherism clearly demonstrated that it is much easier and politically advantageous over the short term to appeal to peoples underlying mindless selfishness

Derek Dunn, Manchester, UK
Unfortunately, Thatcher's legacy is all too prominent, especially in the UK. It has not really helped by the 'Labour' party changing its entire ethos by perpetuating Tory policy over its time in office so far. Tharcherism clearly demonstrated that it is much easier and politically advantageous over the short term to appeal to peoples underlying mindless selfishness. Blair and co have just continued, albeit a bit less blatantly, with this principal It's a lot easier and cheaper than education, and anyway the country was broken before they got it and therefore it isn't their fault.
Derek Dunn, Manchester, UK

Of course Thatcher's legacy remains - Labour could only get elected in 1997 by embracing free-market capitalism and the end of union power. Maggie remains the only truly radical prime minister of the last thirty years, and the UK would be a poorer and a sorrier place had she not picked this country out of the gutter of the 1970's. As for "destroying the mining industry"? She had the guts to put a decaying nationalised industry out of its misery - something that Labour's patronising, sentimental nonsense plainly stops them doing (incidentally, I speak as someone who worked for the NCB).
Dave, UK

We will never forgive her for the mess she made of our public services. She only cared for the rich!
Andy Harrison, UK

When speaking of the Thatcher years, it's almost trendy to start with "Thank god that's over" by the spineless on the Tory side, who offer no more than mitigated socialism as their agenda; or whining socialists who revel in denigrating anything successful on the grounds "somebody" had to be a victim. Fact is, Thatcher changed the UK forever, had a major impact on the world stage, set the tone for massive changes in how counties throughout the world view government involvement in industry, and left a legacy that any true Briton can be extremely proud of. Sustaining her legacy, particularly toward Europe, takes politicians with guts, vision and energy ... virtues sadly lacking in today's British government (and Opposition).
Mark M. Newdick, USA/UK


I will be celebrating today the 10th anniversary of Britain coming to its senses

Karen Green, UK
I will be celebrating today the 10th anniversary of Britain coming to its senses. Having lived through the miner's strike and the massive unemployment in the North East of England, I can quite happily say that Thatcherism is certainly NOT alive and well in the North East! Her legacy continues, but only in that we have so much to put right that she tore apart. For the 'comfortably off' minority, Thatcher was ideal. For the rest of the country, she was the cause of much misery and heartache.
Karen Green, UK

The past 10 years have flown by - her 11 years in office seemed like a lifetime!
Andrew, Germany

Definitely, you only have to look at the responses to previous talking points; people are colder, selfish and less caring. The opposite of all of the virtues we were told a woman would bring to the job of Prime Minister.
Gerry, Scotland

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22 Nov 00 | UK Politics
Thatcher rounds on Blair
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