Margaret Thatcher talking points: The best quotes, headlines, most confused reactions and self-serving comments


Best in show

Lord Saatchi, chairman of the Centre for Policy Studies, said: “Everyone wants to be immortal. Few are. Mrs Thatcher is. Why? Because her values are timeless, eternal. Tap anyone on the shoulder anywhere in the world and ask what Mrs Thatcher ‘believed in’ and they will tell you. They can give a clear answer to what she ‘stood for’. She developed all the winning arguments of our time – free markets, low tax, a small state, independence, individuality, self-determination. The result was a revolution in economic policy and three election victories in a row.”

We hate to break it to you, Maurice, but she is dead. And Woody Allen had the only clever thing to say about immortality anyway.

Eh?  The most ambiguous statements

Winner Scotland will never forget: Daily Record headline.

Runner-up Conservative of enduring imprint: International Herald Tribune.

Highly Commended Geri Halliwell: “Thinking of our 1st Lady of girl power, Margaret Thatcher, a grocer’s daughter who taught me anything is possible…x.”

The most random connections

Winner Bexley Times: “Former Dartford candidate Margaret Thatcher dies.” Yes, if only she had achieved more in her lifetime…

Runner-up: Hendon and Finchley Times: “Late Times Series editor Dennis Signy remembers working with Finchley MP Margaret Thatcher in 2008.” Forget Gorbachev, Bush and so on, what did Signy think?

Highly commended Worcester News: “How Worcester melted the Iron Lady’s heart.” We’ve got to hand it to them, that is quite an achievement.

The most spurious legacies

Winner “Was Margaret Thatcher the first punk?” As our esteemed colleague John Rentoul, author of Questions To Which The Answer Is No, might put it, No.

Runner-up Lisa Armstrong in The Telegraph: “In the end, Lady Thatcher’s mastery of power-dressing may prove to be one of her more helpful legacies to women.” Uh huh, who needs equal pay and parity in boardrooms? It’s all about the pussycat bow and the pearls.

Highly commended Also in The Telegraph: “Will Canary Wharf be Baroness Thatcher’s greatest lasting legacy?” The newspaper suspended reader comments on its website yesterday, following a large number of abusive messages.

The most confused reactions

Winner #nowthatchersdead, which caused fans of the perennially youthful singer Cher, right, to lament her untimely death. If Twitter hashtags had capital letters in them – making the subject NowThatchersDead – all that heartache could have been prevented. As it was, we had these:

@sexyghosts RIP CHER. Just saw the hashtag. Never was a fan myself but you’ve gotta respect her influence. #nowthatcherisdead

@ItzDaveMedia RIP Cher. At least now we’ll find out about life after love.#nowthatchersdead

Runners-up Taiwanese news reporting the death of “Queen Thatcher”, by announcing it with a montage of videos, above, of HM the Queen. Meanwhile, Channel 5 in Thailand showed pictures of Meryl Streep as she appeared in the Thatcher film biopic The Iron Lady for the first announcement of the former PM’s death. The station’s producer later said: “We will improve and develop our work more carefully and are deeply sorry.”

Highly Commended Fans of One Direction’s Harry Styles, left. After  he tweeted  “RIP Baroness  Thatcher.x” a deluge of responses from  his young followers included the gems:  “Is that your friend?” and “It’s market thatcher something to  do with our queen.”

The most obsequious tributes

Winner Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail. “In Heaven last night, as Margaret Thatcher walked through St Peter’s pearly gates, she’ll have been met by a familiar, snaggle-toothed smile and a hug from her beloved husband... ‘There you are, old girl. Whatever kept you? Now, how about a good, strong whisky?’.” We could all do with one after that.

Runner-up Former Tory MP Louise Mensch wasn’t going to let perspective get in the way.  “She was the best of British, and her name will be twinned with Churchill in terms of sheer greatness.”

Highly commended Labour peer Lord Sugar, acted like an angry minder to her memory. “Some of the despicable scum tweeting foul mouth (sic) comments on my Baroness Thatcher tweet were still drinking milk from a teat in the 80’s.”

The most self-serving comments

Winner Jim Prior, a former cabinet minister under Thatcher, recounted receiving a phone call in 1970 from Ted Heath asking who he thought should be the one woman in the Cabinet. “Of course,” said Prior, “it should be Margaret Thatcher.”

Runner-up Sir Richard Branson, who managed to get a plug for Virgin Atlantic into his blog post: “When BA took the Union Flag off their plane, she got her handkerchief out and covered up their new tails. We got the Union Flag on our planes the next day and happily became Britain’s Flag Carrier.”

Highly commended Fraser Nelson, editor of The Spectator: “I was once introduced to Margaret Thatcher as a ‘Scottish Tory’,” he tweeted. “Her response was a rather brilliant one-liner: ‘Ah, so you’re the one.’ RIP.”

The pithiest put-downs

Winner The film director Ken Loach said he had a better idea than a state funeral. “How should we honour her? Let’s privatise her funeral. Put it out to competitive tender and accept the cheapest bid. It’s what she would have wanted.”

Runners-up Another Ken, former London Mayor Livingstone, gave his vision of her legacy: “She created today’s housing crisis, she created the banking crisis and she created the benefit crisis,” he said. “In actual fact, every real problem we face today is the legacy of the fact that she was fundamentally wrong.”

And French newspaper La Libération greeted the news with a front page picture of Thatcher, with the headline “La Grande Faucheuse” or “the grim reaper”, saying that she was a “symbol of the ultra-liberalism of the 1980s”.

Highly commended No one could accuse Ernesto Alberto Alonso, the president of the National Committee of Argentine Falklands Veterans, of sitting on  the fence. “She will be remembered as a leader who brought nothing positive  to humanity.”

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