i Editor's Letter: Thatcher, the divisive figure


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The Independent Online


No modern politician polarises opinion so vehemently as Margaret Thatcher. Although she left office ignominiously 22 years ago she remains the most divisive figure in contemporary Britain; more so than Tony Blair, David Cameron, even Boris or Becks.

To hear that voice again 30 years on, imploring us all to "rejoice … rejoice" at the news British forces had recaptured South Georgia will bring out misty-eyed nostalgia in some as they hum a quick "Rule Britannia", and set others' teeth on edge.

As the National Archives reveal, it really was another century, with its hand and type-written notes, the ubiquitous Sir Humphreys and a trust in the state that began to break down during her premiership.

There is no question that she was formidable; a conviction politician of the sort so many cry out for today, as we criticise both Cameron and Ed Miliband for turning with the wind. But, the problem with conviction politicians is that their convictions are fine as long as they are yours too. As I type, Sky News's coverage of the archives story has dropped any pretence of objectivity. Where, for example, are the questions about why some Jimmy Savile correspondence was redacted after the paedophile scandal broke? That said, in the left-wing media, sadly, there will be open rejoicing when she dies.

And yet. Thatcher remains our first and only female prime minister. In that respect she was ultimate proof to our daughters and sisters that women could achieve anything in Britain. I, like many such parents, would cite her achievement as proof that fierce intelligence, steely determination, confidence and inner strength can break through any glass ceiling. What she then did when she achieved high office is another matter.