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Wednesday, 6 June, 2001, 15:09 GMT 16:09 UK
Lady Thatcher's campaign: what did you think?
Margaret Thatcher has been a central figure in this election - not only for her comments that the euro is "repugnant" - but as all parties discuss her legacy and Thatcherism itself.
The former premier polarised opinion on the single currency with her pledge to rule out the euro for good. She said: "I would never be prepared to give up our own currency."
Tony Blair has referred to Thatcherism several times in his campaign and said the country must now move from that mindset. Charles Kennedy too has been critical of Thatcherite policies and her comments on the euro.
Should Lady Thatcher still have a major campaigning role? Do you feel her views alienate today's voters or are they still relevant?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
When she was PM she first thought she was the President and then the Queen. Now she thinks she's the Queen Mother.
John, London, UK
Margaret Thatcher is Tony Blair's greatest ally. Since she opened her mouth I'm thinking of voting Labour again!
Maggie's role in this election, is obvious. It was to stimulate the core Tory vote into action - those who either stayed away last time or defected to Labour. It was a very intelligent piece of spin by the Conservatives. Only after the results have been announced on Thursday will we know if it has worked or not.
I remember growing up under Thatcher.
I hated it. People became uncertain of their jobs and futures and its her policies that lead to so much privatisation and lack of public funding.
I wonder if her only four hours sleep a night has left her in the correct frame of mind to make a stable choice rather than an irrational grab for the attention she once had.
Grow old in peace Maggie, and please shut up.
You losers! Maggie didn't destroy this country - the unions and the left-wingers and those who want, want, want but aren't prepared to work for it destroyed our country. She at least had the conviction to start getting us back on the right track. Do you really think Blair and Brown are the architects of the current buoyant economy? Please....
What fascinates me is that most British people dislike Thatcher. But who then voted for her all those years? The sad fact seems to be that anyone who wins a war (even its about some cliff with 10 sheep on it) makes the British all proud again, get their Union-Jacks out and on the way to Southampton. Thatcher just fed and capitalized on the loss of pride of the people.
I'm fascinated by the number of correspondents who seem to love Thatcher - but from thousands of miles away - if you think she was so marvellous, and wish to give her the credit for the country's economic stability, rather than have the good grace to credit it to the current government - then where are you all? Why aren't you here contributing to our communities instead of living in your rose-tinted fantasy past?
As for Thatcher's contribution to this election campaign - I laughed out loud when she warned us of the dangers of an elected dictatorship.
An attitude of self-reliance is good but when she uttered the foul words "there is no such thing as society" and bred the self-interested, self-seeking society of individuals this nation became in the 80s she should have been immediately hounded out of office by the Press et al. However, that did not happen and here she is again uttering words such as never give up the pound without one thought for how economically it may be in our interest one day to join the euro. Wasn't it once said never say never and yet she has the same arrogance she displayed in the 80s of I'm right and I don't care what anyone else thinks or says.
I remember flying back to the U.K. to go to school in the seventies, it was a dingy, cold place signified by small mindedness. Be thankful to Thatcher that she renewed a sense of British initiative and integrity without which "Cool Britannia" would still be a basket case.
Margaret Thatcher was one of the worst prime ministers of the last century. She was the cause of many of today's problems - shoddy privatised services putting profit before people, the gap widening between the middle class and working class, and the blatant disregard for anyone outside the upper or middle classes.
Lady Thatcher is quite right,
again. Lady Thatcher has my support, again. I love Lady Thatcher and her extensive Lincolnshire family. God bless Lady Thatcher and God bless England.
Anyone noticed how most of those praising Mrs Thatcher don't live in the UK and never had to suffer her? And even in southeast England we didn't escape her, I was made redundant from my first two jobs very quickly after leaving University thanks to her recession.
William Hague must feel like Scrooge at the moment he met Jacob Marley. The old ghost's chains still rattle from beyond the grave.
Jay, Camberley, UK
Being born in Yorkshire to Irish parents I have at least two reasons to despise Thatcher, however the main reason I rejoice that she is no longer in power is that my children are free to grow up in a world that is not characterised by greed and avarice.
Mrs Thatcher was the greatest post-war prime minister. She instigated changes that enabled Britain to leave socialism and its doctrines behind forever. Mr Blair owes a lot to Mrs Thatcher - and he knows it.
To all Tories and most swinging voters Maggie is a hugely charismatic personality. Obviously, to people who are firmly on the left of politics she is a despised figure.
I think the consensus here is pretty obvious - the vast majority seem to be of the opinion that Thatcher was bad with a capital B, save a few fanatics and those fortunate to have lived abroad far away from the hell that was Thatcher's Britain. The more time goes by, the more we realise just how evil and abhorrent her policies really were.
You've got to love her haven't you? God Bless Maggie? You people are sick!
Jim Smith, Edinburgh, Scotland
What was Thatcher's legacy? 15% interest rates, unemployment and inflation higher than when she entered as PM, no manufacturing industry left etc.
It was left to John Major to sort it all out and prepare the way for the economy we have now. I can only hope that some time in the future, John Major, as one of the best PM's we have ever had, will get his just rewards and she will be finally remembered for what she really was and did.
As dreadful and floundering as Hague really is, the last thing he needs is Maggie Thatcher putting her oar in and ending up giving a different message on the Euro to Hague.
I must correct Alex Hutton. Thatcher was never elected by a majority of the British public. At most the Tories polled 44% in elections under her leadership. If you take turnout into account then some 65% did not vote for her. Thatcher was a huge beneficiary of a flawed electoral system, and at the time the Labour Party lurched further to the left than any other time, resulting in lop-sided results in 1983 and 1987. This is similar to the position Blair is in now, although the result I would like to see under our crazy system is a crushing defeat for the Tories, ideally seeing them replaced by the Lib Dems as main opposition. Perhaps they might then be fully committed to a fair voting system so the days of Thatcherism (selfishness, division and intolerance) or Blairism (spin doctors, mute back-benchers) would be consigned to the dustbin.
While I have been a fan of Reaganism and Thatcherism for many years, her sabotage of the last Tory government in the election of 1997 was most regrettable.
Thatcher is, and always has been, selfish and divisive. She is for the 'haves' at the expense of the 'have nots'.
James Shields, Glasgow, Scotland
People who say Thatcher was the "greatest ever" are misguided. Look at the facts as her reign came to an end. Interest rates - double today's level, inflation - several times today's level, unemployment - three times today's level. You can't say Blair is all style and no substance - at least he's delivering on the economy.
Why doesn't Thatcher realise that the majority of the country do not hold her in the great esteem that Hague does, in fact quite the opposite. If the Tory Party loved her so much why did they push her out of power?
Why, are all of you talking about Thatcher and the 1980's? How are your health care policies, tube system, roads, taxes, cost of housing, working conditions ...all the things that matter in your life now and in the next four years or so. Has Mr Blair made a difference? Or just provided lip service? I love visiting Britain and wish you all well. Please search your soul and do the right thing for your family.
Seeing Thatcher just reminds me that I must get out and vote so that the Tories never get back into power and ruin this country like she did in the 80s
Let's not forget that Mrs Thatcher threw away the lives of hundreds of servicemen in defence of a barren piece of rock, of no economic value, thousands of miles from Britain, then asked us to rejoice at the outcome. I can't help but think that is symptomatic of the jingoistic imperial attitude that, thanks to the Tories, does the UK great disservice overseas.
I think it's interesting that the only person to have anything positive to say about Thatcher is an American. Those of us who had to put up with her in the 80's hated her. What was so patriotic about Thatcher? She ruined this country, running down all of the public services. Greed wasn't good and we're still paying for it. Thatcher and George W now there's a great team of forward thinkers.
Andrew Barker, Norwich, England
Mrs Thatcher is overrated. The state grew in power and size when she was PM and she drew us further into Europe. Her real achievement was reinvigorating the City, but one ought to remember with sadness the destruction of our manufacturing capability under her- was there no other way? During her stint as PM Britain gave up trying to run the economy for the people- a laudable if imprecise aim- and began to sell out to 'Big Money'. Our entire culture has suffered. Another point- Sharjil Zaman (below) attacks Britain as a cultureless and boring country, amidst his comments on Lady Thatcher. Do bear in mind that US culture is almost entirely derived from Europe- a somewhat crude offshoot if you like.
When the Conservative Party declare their honesty by admitting what most of them really believe. That is that Mrs Thatcher was a disaster not only for the country but for the Conservative Party. Once they admit this, the country may consider them to be electable. If they do not, and continue with the Thatcher fallacy, then I'm afraid the party will fade into the third place in the political party league and will be considered un-electable.
I am sick to death of hearing from 'Maggie'. She had her time (and did enough damage then) and is a political has-been. She should take a back seat and allow the serious politicians to get on with it.
The only substantive thing that Margaret Thatcher did which was not either transient or destructive was to tame the trade unions. She was neither particularly consistent or successful at running the economy, and even the direct taxes she did cut were largely compensated for by increases in indirect taxes. Yes folks, she was a stealth tax magician.
But perhaps what should be seen by her supporters as her biggest fault was that she sacrificed the opportunity the Tories had of staying in government forever on the altar of political dogma. There were only a few wrong turns, but they were fundamental and I am very surprised that Tories don't revile her en-masse for it. Had she been just a bit more farsighted the Labour party may never have risen from the ashes.
It is interesting to read that some contributors imagine Thatcher to be more principled than today's leaders. Why then did she take up a role peddling cigarettes after she was axed by her own party? She accepted money to meet the leaders of other countries to convince them not to restrict tobacco advertising and other practices. From Iron Lady to Fag Lady. That doesn't seem a very principled thing to do. And then there was that business of supporting Pinochet...
Americans owe a great debt of gratitude to Lady Thatcher. She, along with Reagan, won the Cold War, chased socialism temporarily back to the recesses, gave England some pride and hope again, and became one of the truly great PM's in history. Time has certainly shown this. To compare the weak, Clintonian PM that you have now with her is a joke. She did not rely on style over substance, unlike Blair.
Ward, Atlanta, USA
The timing of her outbursts neatly coincide with the Labour Party's new poster campaign showing 'Mrs Hague'. Is this accident, or design? I think she's secretly quite flattered.
I wish those who speak so well of Thatcher could have had the benefit of living on a subsistence income while the industrial heart of your region was actively destroyed. Try telling a 40-year-old miner who has just broken down in tears to "get on his bike". It may have been okay for a few rich kids in London, but for the rest of us it was agony. Yes she's relevant, as a reminder of the importance of never letting our own selfish attitudes overtake our moral judgement.
Since Margaret Thatcher became involved in the election campaign, Labour has actually increased it's lead in the polls.
Need any more be said?
Simply the best leader we have had since Churchill. How I long for the days of the mid to late eighties when this Country got its respect and standing back in the world.
Darren, Solihull, UK
I found it insulting that she only speaks about keeping the pound, not about sharing the money in a fairer way. Yes, keep the pound but for the same people. I don't care about the name of the currency, I just want a decent living for my children and me.
We love Margaret Thatcher and think the Labour poster only encourages us to vote for the Tory party and William Hague. The Labour party are just trying to be Tories under a different name but we don't trust them as far as Europe goes. We are very worried about losing our democratic rights when we have a federal Europe. Elections in this country won't count for anything then.
Most retired politicians have the good sense to keep quiet, but not her. I don't think she has forgiven the nation for being removed from office.
Lady Thatcher and the supposed glorious eighties are nothing more than the biggest load of spin ever. What economic boom? Take a good hard look at all the figures and indicators of property interest rates, unemployment, GDP, national debt and by any standards the eighties were no economic miracle! As for her social policies they were a disgrace to all but the rich Tories who benefited from them.
Andy Hemmings, Hitchin, Herts
I thought that Anne Widdecombe was Labour's best weapon but it looks like Maggie might surpass her!
The comments of Mrs Thatcher were not unwelcome. She was asked to speak by William Hague, who obviously thought her speech would clarify their position concerning the Euro. I think it worked, and that's why I'm voting for common sense, the Conservative Party.
Thatcher was in many ways a remarkable leader - she did some extremely good things, and some absolutely terrible things as well. Views about her in 2001 are even more polarised than they were when she held power, so it's clear that her views, though repugnant to many are still relevant. Lets not forget, however, that it was the conservative party itself that threw her out. The fact that she has a platform today indicates either that Hague agrees with her views, but is not willing to say so or he disagrees, but is too weak to deny her the opportunity to meddle in his campaign. Either way, it doesn't look good for him as a leader.
Would George W. Bush let Ronald Reagan have a major campaigning role? Doubtful.
Labour will enjoy many years in power thanks to Thatcher's legacy.
Didn't Mrs Thatcher sign the Single European Act in 1986 which put Europe on a federal track? If she was anti-Europe then, should she have signed this?
Whether you like or loathe Lady Thatcher, she is still the most principled and forthright politician we've had. She never had anything but the UK's interests at heart, whether you believe the policies were right or wrong. The closest person to her these days is not Blair or Hague, but Anne Widdecombe. We need more politicians of substance on all sides.
I loved Thatcher at first, then came to despise her. I voted for her when the trade unions were destroying our industry and she did an excellent job in controlling their power. She also had good economic policies for the most part. However she lost my support when she showed how cold and ruthless she could be in throwing millions out of their jobs and out of their homes. The legacy of Thatcherism is the number of homeless now on our streets.
Seeing her supposed rapport with the public and journalists on Tuesday proves how out of touch she was and still is. While I may have reservations about joining the single currency, to label it "repugnant" is absurd. This is not the 19th century and we are not a monstrous imperial power anymore and the sooner Thatcher and the Tories realise that over 55 years of European stability, largely brought about by the formation of the EU, is a good thing, the better for us.
Scott Burley, Cambridge, UK
Thatcherism was based on the notion of self-sufficiency, free-market economics and social freedom combined with justice, order and integrity. She left a legacy of potential - the idea that everyone has the capability to succeed if they work hard to foster both personal and public stability. She certainly started to damage herself and the country in the final months of her tenure as PM, but the Iron Lady's sense of conviction and her own self-belief provided this country with a sense of unity and success.
Message to Tory HQ:
Maggie isn't working.
Mrs Thatcher - in continual pursuit of a moral justification for selfishness.
I do not agree with her views but I cannot help but be glad that conviction rather than spin has entered the campaign.
God bless Maggie Thatcher for saving this country from irreversible decline. It was her monetary policies in the 80s that have given us the bedrock to build freedom and prosperity in the future, provided Blair doesn't ruin it all. And it's typical of him to dismiss anything from the past as irrelevant. Someone please tell him that the past shapes the present and future.
T Smith, London, England
I'd love to see more of her. It is a reminder that Labour can't be as bad as both left and right like to make out. She left this country far poorer than she found it, destroyed our once great shipbuilding industry and destroyed many an inner city.
She's part of the past, with political agendas that are no longer relevant to the present political climate. Dinosaur politics.
Margaret Thatcher was the right person for PM in 1979. She isn't the right person now but then neither is Blair, Hague or Kennedy.
Lady Thatcher's antiquated views are alienating the Tories from the voters and she seems to be living in the 1800's. This is the Millennium and the UK should look forward not backward, Lady Thatcher should retire entirely from public life!
Lady Thatcher 'saint or sinner?' seems to be the common thread here. No one can deny that Thatcher once had a massive effect on Britain and sadly there is no doubt that her legacy is still very much relevant to the way we now lead our lives. Her administration's steady erosion of the country's institutions has left us all worse off. Far from being a revolution and an exercise in increasing choice and competition Thatcherism has delivered the opposite. At least the old state run utilities could be said to be truly accountable through the ballot box. However the result of privatisation has only been to create large private monopolies that are wholly unaccountable. I feel that as a country we should be ashamed that we elected a Prime Minister who stood so blatantly for such self-serving ideals that brought misery to so many. Maybe one day we'll realise that greed is not the same thing as progress.
Ironically for someone opposed to devolution Thatcher's Britain shrank and shrank, excluding the poor, the sick, the elderly, all of Europe, anything outside the M25 and finally reality.
As a Brit abroad, I still feel that I cannot escape the tyranny of Thatcher's Middle-England Jingoism. When will this woman give up her need for ego bolstering, give her voice box a rest and grow old gracefully? Although not her biggest fan, I would say that much of Thatcher's 'effect' was relevant in the socio-economic landscape of yester-year but is of little relevance today. We are a generation on from the world in which she lives.
Actually, it is not Thatcher that is a sad old relic, it is the people who e-mail with compliments for her who are. The future is now - we use the past as a lesson for the future. How come poor people, people who lost in the 80's, people in the north, Scotland, Wales, Ireland have nothing good to say about her?
It's by accident that I'm on this site, but seeing as I'm here I feel the need to say something. I cannot believe the attitude of some people. Thatcher was along with Churchill the greatest Prime Minister of the 20th century. Can you imagine what this country would be like today if Maggie had not saved us? She may have been ruthless, but in the state our country was in, we needed somebody like that. My views may not be popular (especially in my A-level sociology class) but anybody with half a brain will see I'm right. And not in a million years will I support entry in to Europe. Just think what it would be like, then again don't bother it's too awful to think of.
I am quite amazed that so many people here are so ignorant of the country Margaret Thatcher inherited in 1979. If Britain is wealthy today, it is almost entirely due to 18 years of Tory rule, started by her. Or does somebody think that New Labour (Tories Mk II) has somehow done this from scratch in the last four? At least Maggie never spun she just came right out with it. She had a simple vocabulary of yes or no.
As a child of Thatcherism I have never fully appreciated the great changes she imposed on the country. In spite of all the good she did this country however, she must no longer be allowed to break rank with the party line. I've nothing against free speech but she knows exactly how high profile she is and that anything she says will be taken as policy. The problems she suffered in the last years of her leadership make her well aware of the need for unity in politics. John Major somehow managed to hold together a clearly divided party for seven years, but he spent his whole time dealing with in-fighting which crippled both his party and the country through the policies they were forced into implementing.
Mrs Thatcher used to be a brilliant politician. She is now an elderly lady who cannot bear to step away from the limelight for the good of her own party.
Whilst I never liked Maggie Thatcher, I think the overall result of her time as PM was a positive one. It taught people that if they want something then they should work for it rather than sitting on their backsides and waiting for a social worker to bring it to them. New Labour has managed to achieve very little for this country and is now working to remove it from the map. Maggie Thatcher's comments at the moment are very welcome.
Adrian Hall, Chippenham,UK
You've got to love her haven't you?
Whilst I agree that the Unions were too powerful in the 1970s, they should not have been gutted to the extent they were. Also what most people seem to forget is that the Tories were in power for nearly half the 70s (although all the problems will no doubt be blamed on the Unions). When the Tories were in opposition they (and Tory dominated Lords) did as much as they could to damage Labour to get themselves elected.
Why do the media continue to give this dreadful woman airspace? She is very definitely yesterday's politician and has no relevance today, other than to remind us of the damage that she inflicted on the country and its people.
If she is as barking as she seems, it might even be funny.
Broadcasters: stop giving this woman oxygen.
Mrs Thatcher is free to campaign as any individual is. Is the BBC suggesting she should be muzzled? Thatcher speaks with a clarity and purpose even those who disagree with her respect. But the Tories know that "In Europe, not run by Europe is not sustainable. Thatcher's campaigning allows the Tories to maintain a short-term fudge in the hope of stopping anti-EU supporters voting for UKIP. If Blair tries to link the Euro with EU membership in the referendum, as he will probably do, the British people could surprise him by voting to leave. Imagine that - Blair leads Britain out of Europe!
Adam Hume, London
Although I detest Maggie and all her works, perhaps she deserves some credit for today's economic position. Ironically her one real legacy, privatisation, was originally only intended to weaken state sector unions.
Thatcher was and is uncaring and amoral. She has empathy and sympathy only for those who have something in common with her own background. The idea that socialists don't understand her, or that she was restructuring society to make people stand on their own feet is nonsense. She kicked peoples feet out from under them on the basis of dogma and ideology. In short, her ideology is profoundly unchristian in it's rejection of society and of our responsibility to one another.
Any non-Tory will welcome the spectacle of seeing Thatcher paraded around, it is indicative of the total lack of leadership in the Tory party that an old has-been can generate so much interest. They'll be digging up Winston Churchill next to join the campaign .
People who criticise Mrs T do so from the heart and not from the head. They should remember what the country was like when she took over. Without her single-minded conviction this country would have become a banana republic. Inflation is not at 2% and unemployment under a million and our economy the fourth largest in the world by chance. Tony knows this. You might as well have his mug with the Lady's hair do on top - after all he'd like to be seen as her real successor
Mrs Thatcher is a political dinosaur who should be left in the House of Lords to gather dust. Her campaigning is a reminder to us all of how under her governments the NHS has suffered. Thatcher's "reign" has been misunderstood and been based on financial terms but even here she failed as the UK suffered under financial mismanagement that was concealed by the sale of public assets. To me Thatcher is a reminder of what politics is not about, yes it is about the individual but it is also collective responsibility. The need for government to provide high quality health, education and socially responsible society.
S Radia, London, UK
The pettiness of British Conservative politicians and some Britons
absolutely amazes me! These politicians are partly to blame for
the riots in Manchester. They definitely should do more to stop
the National Front. It is indeed ironic that Britain which
built its wealth by colonizing many of these countries now wants
these people out. It is also very petty for Britain to dwell so much
on the asylum seekers. This tiny rainy little island would be
nothing without its former colonies and the people who have immigrated
there. Britain now goes out of its way to kowtow to the United States. Britain must try harder to get rid of racism as the United States has done. Without its immigrants, Britain would be a bland, boring & cultureless country.
Thatcher was a disaster for the UK. Record unemployment, record interest rates, socially exclusive policies, ruined education system, ruined health service, double VAT, decimated manufacturing industries, etc. No wonder the pound coin is nicknamed the Thatcher-thick, brassy and thinks its a sovereign. Keep her quiet.
I know why you have so many respondents here - the wounds still run deep and the incredulity is one of British citizens' greatest shames and embarrassments.
Now I'm sure Hague is totally barking. To roll out Maggie and John Major on the same day proves he has finally accepted his party is not fit for Government. A bully and a wimp, what an excellent reminder of what Conservatism has given us in the recent past. I didn't know if I could be bothered to vote next week. Seeing the Mummy rise from her tomb I think I'll be at the polling station before it opens to make sure her legacy is kept firmly out of power. Maggie, do us all a favour, find somewhere dark and quiet and stay there.
This must be a great boost to Labour, think of all the traditional Labour voters who would have stayed at home but will now be voting. There will be an even bigger landslide than last election, thanks Maggie.
Churchill made the country safe from the Fascists, and gave people the courage to elect a Labour government. The legacy of that Labour government can be seen daily - our run-down and severely truncated rail system (after fifty years of nationalisation), our crumbling health service and the inability of public bodies to provide efficient and cost-effective services. Margaret Thatcher had the courage to tackle some of the mess left behind by Labour. The other Thatcher legacy was to force the Labour party to ditch the bulk of its crazy policies to have any hope of being returned to power.
Margaret Thatcher believed people should support themselves. I am sick of people using nationhood as an excuse for the growing numbers who believe those prepared to work should support them. I resent every penny of my tax that goes to the NHS, education, single parents etc. If you can't afford it don't have it, and that includes children. I have never scrounged off the state and never will. I have also made provisions to evacuate this country should anyone expect me to pay any more of my hard earned money to show my "social responsibility". I am proud of Thatcherism.
Felicity, Northampton, England
Of course she is still important, as a warning of what things were like when she was in charge. You only have to remember her record! After four years in government (79-83) what had Thatcher achieved? She put one million people on the dole, lost the Falklands, financially crippled the NHS, gave in to the miners, and doubled VAT. All of this was done while her government was enjoying the windfall of North Sea Oil. Remarkable!
Mrs Thatcher seems intent on reminding us all why she was so unceremoniously dumped as leader by her own party. She believed in individual control - her control. Ironically, she talks about the British people not having control of our currency if we enter the Euro, but we didn't have it when she was Prime Minister. The value of sterling was used to boom and bust our economy as each election came and went. Also, we entered at the crazy value of 2.95 DM, the timing purely to up-stage a Labour Party event the very next day. I'd rather have a Euro under Labour than a Pound under the Conservative Party.
We are not just individuals, but a society of individuals. That was what she ignored and that was her legacy. The death of society.
If "Thatcherism" was so bad, why did she win three successive elections and was only deposed of by her own party?
Thank God I don't get a vote in this farce. The socialists have sold out - this isn't about politics anymore - it's all about marketing and image making. I say well done to the PR guru's. They must be making a fortune! Mrs Thatcher didn't care about her image. Mr Blair and Mr Brown should realise that the economy is like a huge cargo ship - it takes forever to turn it around which is what Mrs Thatcher did. They are simply benefiting from the momentum she created.
Simon, Isle of Man
Whilst opinions obviously differ greatly, Thatcher was elected by the majority of the British public - and not just once. Surely they have to take some of the credit/blame ?
After trying to live and work in the UK in the closing years of the Callaghan government, lib-lab pact, winter of discontent, etc. etc. I cannot describe the sense of relief that I felt, from this side of the channel, when Margaret Thatcher was elected prime minister. What she did from then on was to give us back our sense of pride and put us on our feet. Yes it is hard, life is not a soft touch for the majority of us and no doubt not everything she did was 100 per cent right for everyone but she broke the yoke of the unions, made Labour sit up and realize that it was the late 20th century and things were changing. I returned to England and enjoyed several really good years in business, only to marry away again. Next year I will be back, with my husband, the UK is the place we want to retire to and that must be saying something!
Yvonne Kirchgaesser, Cologne, Germany
Have all those apologists for Thatcherism forgotten her real legacy? Just to take one example, the crumbling state of most school buildings was brought about through many years of under-funding. The Labour Government is at least addressing the problem, even if it isn't moving fast enough.
As to the jingoistic nonsense about putting the 'Great' back in GB - an objective view might be that Britain was marginalized by her xenophobia and has suffered from a lack of influence in a time of globalisation.
Right or wrong, Thatcher is sending a message to our neighbour countries. Is she really against Europe or has she just lost the plot?
So the "English speaking" peoples saved the world from Nazism? That would explain why she was happy to consign most of Wales to the dustbin...
Russell Jones, Manchester, UK
It's interesting how the name Thatcher brings the right-wing loonies out from under their stones. The woman had few morals and no social conscience. Hey guys, we don't have an empire any more and people don't like being exploited.
Margaret Thatcher is only concerned with her own image, as she ever was, and tries to cling to the last vestiges of power and influence because she cannot let go. She dealt out a great deal of misery to many in her time as Prime Minister. Every time she speaks out these days in her usual self-obsessed and jingoistic manner, she erodes even further the dwindling Tory support.
As a Brit that emigrated in 1973 I never lived under Thatcher but she had a profound influence on my life. Prior to her tenure I was ashamed of my country and nationality as foreigners continually scoffed about the "sick old man" of Europe. My country was only famous for trade unionism, strikes and social decay. Thatcher changed that and engendered new respect for Great Britain amongst the foreigners and thankfully with me. At last I was able to proclaim my nationality with pride. I still live outside Britain and its amazing to note that Thatcher is still respected far more by the foreigners than by the British. Maybe I should start feeling ashamed again. Thank you Lady Thatcher for at least giving me two decades of pride.
James Welsh, Asuncion, Paraguay
What Thatcher seems to have forgotten, is that if we do decide to have the euro, then it will be the British public that decides, not dinosaurs like her.
Growing up in Yorkshire, I saw the effects of Thatcherism every day. She is a single minded woman who has always believed she is surrounded by fools. Unfortunately for the UK, her single mind was and still is missing a few marbles. From a great start in 1979 when the country was reeling, she has left destruction in her wake. We have no industry left and are seen as a second rate call centre rather than a major player in Europe. Blair may not be perfect but he is the country's best hope of progress. Let's stop throwing around terms like socialism, today's Labour party is a sensible middle of the road party whereas today's Tory party is a sad reflection of its former pre-Thatcher, pre-ideology self.
William Hague must be desperate to gag Maggie. Every time she speaks in public, she reminds Conservative voters how weak their current leader is and everyone else how hideous a Tory Government can be.
I notice that there are no messages from any Irish people on this subject. Is this because the views are too strong to be printed? If Maggie were still in power, there would be no ceasefire in the north because she wouldn't talk to any of the parties involved. Disaster would have ensued. Good riddance to her.
Thatcher's legacy is not Tony Blair. Blair-style left-wing governments are very common in Europe. Her real legacy is an autocratic style of government that lasted too long, ultimately leaving her own party in complete disarray and above all depriving it of any chance to win any election in the foreseeable future.
It's very amusing to read all this invective about Maggie but can anyone imagine what state we would be in if she never existed? High taxes, currency controls, state run industries, restrictive practices, no job mobility, inflation, bureaucratic waste, defeatist, low growth, cold war. The list is endless. In retrospect it is incredible that otherwise sane people can even contemplate the UK being even moderately successful without her. 60% tax? Can you imagine? Michael Foot? Neil Kinnock? Give me a break.
David Scott, London
Many of society's problems today can be specifically linked to Thatcher's legacy - she destroyed the notion of community and social responsibility and promoted crass individualism. We need her to come out every now and again to remind us of how much we have to change this country. I hate everything she stood for which ensures that as a young(ish) voter I will never vote for the Tories.
Thatcher destroyed more British industry in ten years of mismanagement than Hitler did in 6 years of bombing. She declared economic warfare on those who did not live and work in her middle-class, middle-England utopia. Frankly the quicker she is consigned to the pages of history the happier I will be.
I would like to thank Maggie. Her renewed intervention has ensured the Tories will be destroyed at the polls again. Labour couldn't have asked for a better campaigner!
Andy, London, UK
Thatcher's time is long gone. She has no role to play in the General Election.
Yes, Thatcher's medicine was difficult to swallow, but the British patient was very sick in 1979! The economy was a mess. Greed was rife within society - just look back at the actions of the Trade Unions at the time. Inflation, high interest rates, destructive tax levels and a country which became the laughing stock of the world ! Thatcher saw us through the cold war when her opponents (including the modern Labour party) were backing CND and the fascists in Moscow! Give me the straight talking Thatcher (warts and all) than the sickly double spin of the current crop of politicians. Get real!
Thatcher is the reason why the Conservative Party today is simply unelectable. The sooner she leaves the limelight and stops undermining the policies of the party, the sooner they will be able to mount anything like a serious challenge to Labour. The people who say they would welcome her back today as Tory leader obviously don't remember that during her time she had no regard for the more needy in society. Or maybe they, like her, just don't care!
Whether you love her or loath her, I note that even Mr. Blair thinks that many of her decisions were . We have done much better as a country since. Have we all run our private affairs perfectly?
Lady Thatcher's inane prattling may have had more credibility if she hadn't been at the helm when the UK signed the single European Act in 1986-7. The creation of a single market strongly suggested that a single currency would be introduced so either she was too stupid to see it coming or didn't care because a later parliament would have to sort it out. I know which one my money is on.
Those who are so quick to criticize Margaret Thatcher would do well to remember (or read about) the state of the British nation and economy in 1979 as compared to the mid-80s and beyond. You went from being a country in terminal decline to being the strongest economy in Europe, with an ever-increasing standard of living. The world regards you with much more respect than it did pre-Thatcher. Her continued influence is such that Labour policy is essentially Thatcherism Lite. Your country owes much to this woman.
Richard Graham, Little Rock, Arkansas (USA)
Richard Graham from Arkansas ought to educate himself about the true state of Britain before praising Thatcher. He claims there was an increase in the standard of living - well that's true - but only for the rich minority. The rich got much richer. The poor got poorer emerged for the first time as an underclass in Britain. This was Thatcher's most obvious legacy. Thatcherism is still relevant, as a lesson from history 'There's no such thing as society' is one of the most chilling lines to come out of a politician's mouth in the 20th century.
If as Mrs T. asserts, national sovereignty is predicated on control of sterling, then presumably the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee is the real UK government, with a second chamber composed of all the currency traders in New York, Hong Kong and Frankfurt.
Thatcher broke the power of the unions that had made our lives miserable. She encouraged people to get off their backsides and make a living for themselves. She made people realise that the world didn't owe them a comfortable life. She also stood up for what she believed in, unlike a certain Mr Blair I could mention.
John B, UK
Margaret Thatcher represents all that was bad about Britain in the eighties. This combined with her obvious xenophobia turns off the majority of people and she should really learn to live out her retirement in peace.
Margaret Thatcher was the most divisive and destructive force in British politics for many years. History should not judge kindly the woman who felt that unemployment in the north was a price worth paying for the good of the economy of the south east of England. As a Scot I cannot put into words how much I despised her and her policies which turned my country into an economic wasteland. Basically I could never vote Tory purely because of her.
England owes a great debt to Lady Thatcher. It is amazing how much people forget. On a side note, if Tony Blair and Labour are the party of homeowners, why have they scrapped the home mortgage deduction?
Jorge, Virginia, USA
My lasting image of Mrs Thatcher was when during the Falklands war she came out of Number 10 and told people to "go home and rejoice". War, death and destruction are not things I want to celebrate!
How can you compare her character with the one of Blair?
She is a brilliant leader and she should be involved in the campaign.
Thatcher ripped the heart and soul out of this country and will be long remembered for it. I heard her on the radio today talking about the euro and found it embarrassing. She was a caricature of herself and had no strong arguments and just kept repeating her mantra about the euro without giving any reasons. She's way past her sell-by date and I suspect Hague and Portillo dread her interventions. She has probably even cost the Tories a couple of marginal seats!
The popular myth is that Thatcher's policies destroyed public services and wrecked people's lives. In reality, the damage had already been done by post-war Labour policies. All Thatcher did was supply the medicine that gives us the prosperity we have now. Another five or even ten years of Labour government will put us back to the bad old, state-interventionist days of the 1970s.
Mrs Thatcher seems to have a so-called hidden agenda: re-elect the Labour Party. In my opinion, her comments are extremely damaging to her own political party.
John Offrell, Gothenburg, Sweden
Mrs Thatcher is one of the greatest prime ministers this country has ever had. Of course, this does not mean that all she did was perfect, but Britain is wealthier and more efficient largely because of her policies. Remember, "New" Labour stuck to many Tory policies and still make a utter mess of them.
Of course Thatcher still has a role in this election.
It's to maximise the Labour vote. Keep up the good work Maggie!
Socialists can never understand Thatcher and her aims. They have no concept of the individual or responsibility. They believe in collectivism and state control. Thatcherism changed the mindset of the UK away from 'you shall be provided for' to 'you are in charge of your own destiny'. This is a painful lesson for those unwilling to take personal responsibility. The state must only care for those unable to do so for themselves, not those unwilling to contribute to society. Thatcher made us grow up as a nation and we remain in her debt.
P McPhater, London, UK
She came, she saw, she led. Today it's, he came, he saw, they 'spun'. There's the difference!!!
The only reason why I used to respect Thatcher was that she broke the overwhelming power of the Unions at a time when they were ruining the country. That was her only finest hour. The rest of her tenure in power was selfish, shortsighted and appalling.
I must disagree with Marc Jones. Unlike a minority of politicians of her generation and probably most of the current crop, Thatcher was not selfish. She really thought what she was doing was for the good of the country. Blair wants to be seen as the greatest Prime Minister of all time and in some ways seeks to emulate her. Like many parts of our history we fail to understand them because we analyse them outside of their historical context.
I find it amusing when someone mentioned that Thatcher proved the UK was not a sexist country. Does this person not remember it was Mrs M who suggested that single mothers under 18 should be placed in workhouses. Thatcher was simply the worst leader this country has ever seen. Anyone who supports her should be ashamed of himself or herself
I am intrigued to know why the American contributors seem to hold Thatcher in such high regard. The American political system is based upon federalist democracy and pluralism, whilst Thatcher
reduced the power of local democracy and centralised the
State. Would these policies be popular in the US? I think
To congratulate Thatcher for the achievements of the 80s is like the people of Coventry thanking Hitler for providing the opportunity to rebuild their city. Under Thatcher's government, inflation soared from 9% to above 20%; unemployment went from 1 million to over 3 million.
And yet people idolise her. How is that possible?
Okay please tell me this is not an episode of Dallas and Maggie is has just walked out of a shower ... of course it makes sense to have her back, what else should we expect, we "non-European" Brits seem to thrive on high unemployment and mortgage rates!
Patrick McFadyen, Brussels, Ex Pat
I fail to see how Thatcher gave people
the opportunity to "stand on their own
two feet" by putting them out of work and making them
on the Welfare state!
22 May 01 | Vote2001
Never to euro - Thatcher
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Thatcherism over - Blair
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Thatcher captures the headlines
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The Curse of the Mummy
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