The differing reactions to the former PM's death shows she remains a divisive figure
She was a divisive figure in life, with some lauding her as a formidable, heroic ‘iron lady’ who stuck to her guns and helped bring about economic recovery through privatisation, however to others she is a hate figure who destroyed families and communities through her ferocious right-wing policies, including the closure of the mines which led to mass unemployment.
And now the mixed reactions to her death – at the Ritz Hotel from a stroke yesterday at the age of 87 – show she remains a divisive figure, even after her passing.
Tributes poured in from David Cameron, who referred to her as a ‘great Briton’ and said ‘Margaret Thatcher loved this country, and she served it with all she had’, while US president Barack Obama referred to her as a ‘great champion of freedom and liberty.’ Former Tory MP Louise Mensch called her ‘a colossus and the best of Britain’.
Flowers and messages of condolence were left outside her former home in London’s Chester Square, and condolence books were opened across the world, from Rome’s British Embassy to a museum in her birthplace, Grantham.
The Union Jack flag above 10 Downing Street was lowered to half-mast and Parliament will be recalled from Easter recess tomorrow to allow politicians to pay their respects.
However, in sharp contrast, street parties celebrating her death sprung up across the UK. In particular, a raucous street party was held in Brixton, London, where 500 revellers drank champagne and cheered ‘Maggie, Maggie, Maggie, dead dead dead!’ and ‘free milk for all!’
Some protestors even stormed the area’s Ritzy Cinema, draping it in banners and rearranging the letters on the front, which normally advertise films, to say ‘Margaret Thatcher dead’.
In the former pit village of Orgreave, the site of the worst battle during the Miners’ Strike of the 80s, she received little sympathy. One former miner told the Guardian newspaper: ‘I’m not a hypocrite. I spoke ill of her when she was alive and I’ll speak ill of her now she’s dead. She doesn’t mean two iotas to me.’ The National Union of Mineworkers released a statement saying Thatcher had ‘set out to serve those whose interests were profit for the few’, leading to the ‘decimation’ of the coal industry.’
Former Smiths singer Morrissey blasted the former PM. The artist, who wrote a song called Margeret on the Guillotine, called her ‘barbaric’ adding she was a ‘terror without an atom of humanity.’
A Facebook group has been set up to get ‘Ding dong the witch is dead’ from The Wizard of Oz to number one, and a website isthatcherdeadyet.co.uk was immediately updated to say yes.
Baroness Thatcher’s funeral will take place on April 17. She won’t be given a state funeral, the subject of a recent petition demanding this shouldn’t happen, but a ceremonial funeral at St Paul’s Cathedral with full military honours instead.
The UK’s first, and so far only, female Prime Minister, she served from 1979-1990, but suffered declining health in recent years, leading to a gradual withdrawal from public life.