Debate: Was Thatcher a great British prime minister?


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The Independent Online


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Former prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, a hugely influential and hugely divisive figure in British politics has died from a stroke aged 87.

Baroness Thatcher, who was 87, won three general elections for the Conservatives and shaped UK politics for a generation. At home, she implemented sweeping reforms to trade unions, defeated the miners in a bitter strike and forced the Labour Party to modernise itself.  Abroad, she was dubbed “the Iron Lady”,  winning an unlikely war in the Falklands and helping to secure the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Case For: Leading Lady

Thatcher turned the British economy around – even her fiercest detractors admit that. She took a country that was becoming less and less competitive globally and, by opening up to privatisation, laid the groundwork for the boom years. She was also someone who broke the political mould by rising to the top as a woman; in doing so, she helped millions of other women to raise their aspiration, and many female MPs admit it was Thatcher’s example that made a career in Westminster possible. Finally, she was a powerful and patriotic leader.

Case Against: Untold destruction

Where to begin? Abroad she supported the tyrant General Pinochet and denounced Nelson Mandela as a terrorist. At home her systematic destruction of industry and abolition of controls on City trading brought about a social and economic devastation from which working class communities in many parts of the country are yet to recover. Britain is a less equal, more greedy society because of her policies.