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Last Updated: Friday, 7 May, 2004, 08:47 GMT 09:47 UK
What is your view of Thatcher's legacy?
Margaret Thatcher arrives at Downing Street
It is 25 years since Margaret Thatcher's first day as Prime Minister when she famously quoted St Francis of Assisi.

Thatcher, a grocer's daughter from Grantham, first rose to prominence in the Conservative party during the 1970's.

Nicknamed 'the Iron Lady' she was renowned for her strong response to the Falklands crisis, her programme of privatisation and her disputes with British miners and the IRA.

On Tuesday evening she attended a celebration dinner where she was described by Tory leader Michael Howard as "the greatest British prime minister since Winston Churchill" and received a standing ovation from the 500 guests.

What are your memories of the Thatcher years? What legacies did she leave the British people? Send us your views.

The following comments reflect the balance of the opinion we have received:

This debate is now closed. Read your comments below.

Mrs Thatcher made a wonderful Prime Minister. She was intelligent, capable, determined, compelling, charismatic, and glamorous. She brought a sprinkling of stardust into the lives of many. To live through the revolutionary changes she brought about, to live through Britian's transformation from 'sick man of Europe' to GREAT Britain again, was to experience excitement and hope in British politics. Politics has never been the same since she left office. I know some loathed and despised her, I know, too, that the dose of medicine she gave Britain was a little bitter to swallow sometimes. But she was a GREAT woman! Pity that we can't bring back Maggie!
Richard, Swansea, Wales, UK

I'm deeply grateful to her. She changed this country from a disaster area to a place you could be proud of. Her legacy will be hope. Whatever disaster is about to hit the country can be repaired. When we see Blair and Brown wasting the strong economy that Thatcher left, at least we know that it does not have to be for ever. Mrs Thatcher showed it was possible by repairing the damage of the 70s.
Clare, UK

Her legacy is misery hidden behind economic reforms
Jon Lloyd, London
I work with homeless people in London and see her legacy in the lost homes, communities, soldiers. Her legacy is misery hidden behind economic reforms.
Jon Lloyd, London

It just shows how influential Maggie was, people still talking about her 25 years since she first took office. Better or for worse, she did great things and I doubt we will talk about many other leaders like this in years to come. Who remembers what John Major did for this country??
Ryan Tyler, Portsmouth, UK

Thatcher was no different to what Blair is now. Both were seen as saviours when they entered into power. Only to soon become big disappointments.

Whatever your opinion of Mrs.T it is worth remembering that lots of people who now despise her methods voted for her at the time and therefore either liked her or were not good judges of character. How else would she of got in the first place?
Jon Brown, Basildon, Essex

She put the Great back into Britain
NC, Norway (ex UK)
Flaws aside - and yes there were some, she put the Great back into Britain and made us a proud nation once more.
NC, Norway (ex UK)

Julius Caesar was the greatest of Romans and long remembered. So to will Lady Thatcher be remembered. Strange they were both stabbed in the back.
Simon Mallett, UK, Maidstone

As a Thatcher child, I grew up wanting to be a leader as good as she was. You were proud to come from England. Europe admired such a strong lady, the States loved her and Russia were pretty scared - now that takes some doing! More should learn from her.
Gino, Naples, Italy

Oh what rose tinted glasses people have. The Thatcher era can, for me anyway, be remembered as a time of rioting, extreme unemployment, high interest rates, negative equity, war, and a general feeling of selfishness. She sold off the nations' assets and left a crumbling public infrastructure and no manufacturing base. What a great lady she was!

Her legacy is not in the wealth of the country, but the lack of compassion in the country.
Mick, Cambridge, UK

Europe was her downfall from power
David Craik, UK
Mrs Thatcher created a very selective division in society. She wanted prosperity but only for the chosen few, the rest could have unemployment and social decay. Her vision on a Britain became a nightmare for people in Scotland, the North and Wales. Europe was her downfall from power and she would never survive in the EU structures of today - so we have something to thank the EU for. Thatcher is part of our past and now an irrelevance in our European future.
David Craik, UK

I was not a supporter, and turned her off each time she came on the radio or TV. Listening to her grated terribly. It was like being told off by my mum. But she was a creature of her time, and if it hadn't been her, someone else would have had to lead the inevitable economic shake-up I lived through as a personnel professional.
Morley Williams, Cromwell, New Zealand

Love her or hate her, she delivered
Robert, Midhurst

I voted for Margaret but looking back I regret it. Her government set us back decades regarding European integration. However, Britain eventually follows the rest of its neighbours, kicking and screaming like a brat seeking attention. In retrospect it would have been much easier for Britain to be at the forefront of developing a united Europe.
Kenneth, Netherlands

She has ruined this country for all but the wealthy
Helena, Scotland
From using Scottish people as guinea pigs for the poll tax, to taking milk from children, Thatcher's list of crimes is endless. Privatisation of, well, just about everything, has lead to a culture of profit above quality and 'looking after number one.' She has ruined this country for all but the wealthy living in the home counties.
Helena, Scotland

But for Margaret Thatcher, this country (or those few of us who would have a job) would still be subsidising miners to dig coal out of the ground just because their fathers and grandfathers did exactly the same before them. She gave this country progress at a time when it threatened to be swamped with regression.
John, UK

To John, Unfortunately Thatcher provided no alternative when tens of thousands of miners jobs (and jobs in other heavy industries) were gone at the stroke of a pen. If mining is the only show in town then you had to mine. Some villages only existed because of the mine. Hard then to sell your house and "get on your bike"... (insert rest of those trite Tory slogans from the time) and move elsewhere to work. Some parts of the country are only now seeing investment and recovery.
Ian, England

Growing up I was under the influence of the three greatest leaders, Reagan, Thatcher, and Gorbachev. Although they each had their failings, each understood what it meant to lead a country. Thatcher led this country from the mire of recession back to being a true global force again. Today's "leader" is nothing more than a puppet to his masters, George W Bush and the European community.
James K, London

Thatcher's Legacy? Isn't that Tony Blair? He seems more committed to Thatcherism than anyone else in the Tory party ever was.
Dan Mason, Liverpool

It's all so dull without her
Bill, UK
Today's cardboard politicians are so dull and you either switch off politics or go retro and talk about this principled lady. Clone her now before it's too late. It's all so dull without her.
Bill, UK

A wonderful woman who not only dragged the country out of crisis but showed women everywhere that they too could stand up for their beliefs and reach the top.
Alex, Scotland

I listened as she once refused to accept (on the Frost programme) that she might ever have done anything wrong while in office. Anyone who believes in his/her infallibility is inherently dangerous - almost by definition. As for her quote from St Francis of Assisi, well we have all witnessed the "harmony" she bequeathed to the country.
UE, UK/Nigeria

I'd love to comment, but my views on that woman would be unprintable I'm afraid.
Judy, UK

If you lived through the unemployment and hardship up north it was a different story
Boh, Manchester
If you were never short of money and lived in London, then she was all right for you. If you lived through the unemployment and hardship up north it was a different story. People have very short memories
Boh, Manchester

I remember the front page of the Daily Express on Election Day. "Give the girl a chance to make Britain Great!" Well we did give her a chance and she delivered. She transformed Britain from the sick man of Europe to the envy of Europe. Many many thanks Maggie!
Henry Josling, Melbourne, Australia

The right PM at the right time, without a doubt. Anyone who can remember the chaos of the union-run 1970's must realise that without her, this country would have descended into anarchy. The medicine may not have been pleasant, but it worked. Gordon Brown (and his boss) love to talk about the fruits of prosperity, but without Margaret Thatcher's reforms, which to large degree they both opposed, we would still be a third world economy. Credit where it's due please.
Malcolm, England

My most abiding memory is of the completely cynical, re-election seeking sacrifice of several hundred lives in order to preserve the sovereignty of a few thousand sheep in a place so important to us that the navy did not have any charts.
Bob, Chester, UK

Oh god almighty, she made the country a wasteland. High unemployment and as a young person all the doors were closed. We are all still suffering from this era. Basically, if you didn't take your early chances, there were none after that.
J Joni, UK

Standing up to unions was necessary as their greed was out of control
Harriet, Ipswich, UK

The best and strongest leaders in the history of the England/Britain/UK have been two women...Elizabeth I and Margaret Thatcher. Standing up to unions was necessary as their greed was out of control. They ruined manufacturing, not Thatcher. She was a strong leader who didn't back down from what she believed was right. Leaders who lead by popular opinion are puppets, not leaders. She was a true leader.
Harriet, Ipswich, UK

Thatcher proved that a woman can lead and can do it well. She was a fantastic PM and what the UK needs most is another PM just like her.
Rachel, UK

I grew up during the Thatcher Years and remember that she was not (and still isn't) the most popular politician in Scotland to put it mildly. However you view her politics and their outcomes - you have to give her credit for being Britain's first female PM and sticking to her guns about what she thought was best. Also, she is certainly more of a leader than any of the PMs that followed her (including Mr Blair).
AJ, Fife, Scotland

A truly remarkable lady and an even greater Prime Minister. She will not only be remembered as Britain's first woman PM, but remembered as one of the greatest and toughest politicians of the 20th century.
Elliot van Emden, London, England

Thank you Margaret! For the seeds of today's housing crisis; for the wasteland of our social structure; for the art of selling people out;...
Graham, UK

Thatcher "the milk snatcher" was Britain's only dictator
Justin, Bristol, UK
With the exception of Oliver Cromwell, Thatcher "the milk snatcher" was Britain's only dictator.
Justin, Bristol, UK

She was great. I wish there was someone else like her. No spin - straight to the point, whether anyone was going to like it or not. If it hadn't been for her, Britain today would be a basket case. British manufacturing destroyed itself, Margaret Thatcher merely stopped it using public money to produce expensive antiques that nobody wanted. Her only failure was that she didn't manage to make in-roads into benefits culture to the extent that many of us hoped. I'm sure there'll be lots of hysterical rantings on this page from the usual mob who blame everything on the Tories. They presumably don't remember the 70's.
Graham, Milton Keynes, UK

Love her or loathe her, you always knew where you stood with Margaret Thatcher. That's a lot more than can be said of the current batch of "presidential" politicians on both sides of the House of Commons.
Nigel Pond, Brit living in the USA

During her time Britain became more strident, more brash, more selfish, less tolerant, and more divided
Andrew, South London, UK
Memories? At first, relief. This country was in a mess in 1979, and no other politician seemed to be willing to give it the kick in the backside it needed. But of course she went too far, becoming completely besotted with her own rhetoric, and with the praise of the sycophants around her. Changes? During her time Britain became more strident, more brash, more selfish, less tolerant, and more divided. All in all a much less pleasant place to live, but then it might have gone that way whoever was PM. Seen in the cruel light of history, all politicians, even Prime Ministers, are a lot less influential than they think they are.
Andrew, South London, UK

Strife, discord, poverty, unemployment, disharmony, 'looking after number one', 'no such thing as society', riots and the rich got richer while the poor got poorer. Thank God it's history.
John M, London, UK

I remember on the Friday night after she was voted in, the jukebox was turned down and we all stood and held two minutes silence in our local pub. We were devastated and very fearful for our futures.
Andrew M, Walsall, UK

The question is, where in the industrialised world has manufacturing survived in its scale and form of 25 years ago?
Michael, London, UK/ Tokyo Japan

Although it was painful at first, Thatcher's remedy put Britain back in the lead
A. Howlett, Manchester, England
Thatcherism saved Britain from becoming a basket-case. The previous Labour governments led by Wilson and Callaghan had bankrupted the country and saddled us with high taxes, massive inflation and excessive Union power. Although it was painful at first, Thatcher's remedy put Britain back in the lead. A superb prime minister, never to be forgotten.
A. Howlett, Manchester, England.

The best PM this country ever had, stood up to the Unions and got it sorted, then we ended up with a couple of wimps as PMs, Major and then Blair, the worst two we ever had.
Lester Stenner, Weston super Mare UK

I remember Thatcher and her government, the local Tory MP got elected on the slogan ' The dockyard is safe in Tory hands' 2 years later they wanted to shut it down, 6 months later it was suddenly needed for the Falklands. Many workers who prepared those ships got P45's from a grateful Tory government.
Boris, Portsmouth, UK

Mrs Thatcher changed Britain at a time when the World was changing
Bob Harvey, Lincs, UK
Like Mrs Thatcher I am the eldest child of a Lincolnshire grocer. Like her I see national economics in very simple terms: it was called 'kitchen table' economics, but it was more the economics of the small shopkeeper, and none the worse for that. The poll tax is remembered, but we forget the threat of impending rate reviews that made it necessary to change local government finance. The end of manufacturing is remembered, but not the greed of the unions and the short-termism of the stock exchange that brought it about. The disaster of privatising the railways is remembered, but not the far worse state of British Steel when under state control. Mrs Thatcher changed Britain at a time when the World was changing. She anticipated, even led, those changes and it is doubtful if anyone could have done it better.
Bob Harvey, Lincs, UK


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