Margaret Thatcher R.I.P.

One of the bravest, most determined and most sincere women I ever met died today.

Whether you loved Margaret Thatcher or hated her, you could not ignore her. She fought her way up from middle-class origins, and as a woman at a time when almost nobody thought a woman could become Prime Minister, and she did so against all the odds.

She fought like a tiger for what she saw as Britain's interests, and she was afraid of nothing and nobody.

Future historians will argue about whether Margaret Thatcher or David Cameron had the dubious privilege of inheriting the biggest mess ever left by an outgoing peacetime government to an incoming one. You can make a strong argument for either, but in my opinion while David Cameron inherited the worst financial mess ever left to an incoming government, Margaret Thatcher inherited the worst overall position ever left to an incoming peacetime Prime Minister.

She didn't get everything right - no mortal human being could have - but only someone with the most outstanding qualities of courage, determination and the ability to inspire could have achieved as much as she did.

There have been many tributes to Baroness Thatcher tonight but I have been particularly interested to read some of the comments about her from around the world and across the political spectrum:

"The world has lost one of the great champions of freedom and liberty, and America has lost a true friend. As a grocer's daughter who rose to become Britain's first female prime minister, she stands as an example to our daughters that there is no glass ceiling that can't be shattered. As prime minister, she helped restore the confidence and pride that has always been the hallmark of Britain at its best. And as an unapologetic supporter of our transatlantic alliance, she knew that with strength and resolve we could win the Cold War and extend freedom's promise."

Barak Obama, U.S. President

"Our first meeting in 1984 marked the beginning of a relationship that was difficult sometimes, not always smooth, but serious and responsible from both sides. Gradually, human relations developed as well, they became more and more friendly. Eventually we were able to reach mutual understanding, and this contributed to changes in atmosphere between our country and the West, and to the end of the Cold War. Margaret Thatcher was a great politician. She will remain in our memory and in history."

Mikhail Gorbachov, last leader of the Soviet Union

"Margaret Thatcher was a towering political figure. Very few leaders get to change not only the political landscape of their country but of the world. Margaret was such a leader. Her global impact was vast. And some of the changes she made in Britain were, in certain respects at least, retained by the 1997 Labour government, and came to be implemented by governments around the world.
Even if you disagreed with her as I did on certain issues and occasionally strongly, you could not disrespect her character or her contribution to Britain's national life. She will be sadly missed."

Tony Blair, former Labour PM

"She will be remembered not only for being Britain's first female prime minister and holding the office for eleven years, but also for the determination and resilience with which she carried out all her duties throughout her public life. Even those who disagreed with her never doubted the strength of her convictions and her unwavering belief in Britain's destiny in the world."

Gordon Brown, former Labour PM

"Margaret Thatcher was a truly formidable prime minister whose policies defined a political generation."

Alex Salmond, First Minister of Scotland

"She shaped modern Great Britain as few have before or since. She was one of the greatest leaders in World politics of her time. The freedom of the individual was at the centre of her beliefs so she recognised very early the power of the movements for freedom in Eastern Europe. And she supported them. I will never forget her contribution in overcoming Europe's partition and the end of the Cold War."

Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany

David Cameron said he thought she would be remembered as Britain's greatest peacetime Prime Minister and Boris Johnson said that her legacy is "colossal."

I respect those who do not share my view of Baroness Thatcher, but will add a reminder here -  it is and has been for years the policy of this blog not to allow hostile comments about the person who has just died on obituary posts. This is not specific to Margaret Thatcher. I will not allow this blog to be used to publish comments which might cause distress to the family and friends of a recently deceased person, regardless of who the target is.

I am thinking at this time particularly of Baroness Thatcher's children and grandchildren.

Rest in Peace


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