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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Updates: Reaction to the Death of Margaret Thatcher

The Lede posted reaction to the death of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher on Monday.

7:50 P.M. Obits Recall Mrs. Thatcher's Leadership Differently

PoliticsHome, a leading Web site in the United Kingdom has linked to the various obituaries published online Monday about Margaret Thatcher that represent that she was both loved and loathed in the United Kingdom.

The Daily Telegraph:

For more than a decade Margaret Thatcher enjoyed almost unchallenged political mastery, winning three successive general elections. The policies she pursued with ferocious energy and unyielding will resulted in a transformation of Britain's economic performance.

The resulting change was also political. But by discrediting socialism so thoroughly, she prompted in due course the adoption by the Labour Party of free market economics, and so, as she wryly confessed in later years, “helped to make it electable”.

The Guardian:

Margaret Thatcher, who has died aged 87, was a political phenomenon. She was the first woman elected to lead a major western power; the longest serving British prime minister for 150 years; the most dominant and the most divisive force in British politics in the second half of the 20th century. She was also a global figure, a star in the US, a heroine in the former Soviet republics of central Europe, a point of reference for politicians in France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

In Britain, the Thatcher years were a watershed. After them, the ideals of collective effort, full employment and a managed economy â€" all tarnished by the recurring crises of the 1970s â€" were discredited in the popular imagination. They were replaced with the politics of me and mine, deregulation of the markets and privatisation of the state's assets that echoed growing individual prosperity. Thatcher did not cause these changes, but she legitimised and embedded them. Her belief in the moral authority of the individual and the imperative of freedom of choice led left as well as right to reappraise the welfare state. Her perception of economics, society and Britain's place in the world continue to shape British politics.

The Times:

Indomitable Prime Minister whose unswerving belief in free enterprise transformed the political and social landscape

Margaret Thatcher was one of the greatest British politicians of the 20th century. The first woman prime minister in Europe, she held the job for 11 years. In the 20th century no other prime minister had been in office for such a long unbroken period, and no one since Lord Liverpool (1812-27) had had such a long continuous run as Prime Minister.

The Independent:

There has been no other leader quite like Margaret Thatcher in post-war Britain. No other post-war Prime Minister has been so admired, or so reviled. She was the first woman to lead a major political party in Britain, the longest-serving Prime Minister of the 20th century, and almost the only Prime Minister whose name is synonymous with an ideology. “Thatcherism” remained in political diction when the holder of that name was an elderly frail, lonely widow.

She was never much loved, though she would have liked to have been. She believed that she had a direct line to the British people, or at least the section of it from which she sprang: the hardworking, law-abiding, self-denying lower middle class. Although she dominated her party and the government machine, her self-image was of an outsider battling with an inert establishment. Evening visitors to the flat above Downing Street would sometimes find her and her husband, Denis, watching the news, and grumbling about the state of the nation, wanting something done.

The Evening Times, the evening newspaper of the Herald and Times Group in Scotland:

Margaret Thatcher was loved and hated in equal measure throughout Britain. As her popularity in Conservative strongholds in the south of England increased with election victories in 1979, 1983 and 1987, in parallel her reputation in Scotland worsened and here she became one of the most despised politicians of the modern age.

There will be no national show of grief, civic sentimentality or spontaneous public floral tributes here for a woman whose very name being mentioned can still get the blood of many a Glaswegian boiling … even more than 20 years after leaving office.

Her premiership saw the decline of heavy industry and factory closures in Glasgow and elsewhere leading to mass unemployment in communities and a spiralling of associated problems such as debt, alcoholism and drug abuse.

Battles with unions, with nurses, teachers and most notably the miners going on strike provided defining social images of the 80s.

In Glasgow the social legacy of her era was economic decline, a cycle of inter-generational unemployment and a right-to-buy housing policy that robbed the social sector of its most desirable homes.

- Jennifer Preston

7:13 P.M. Video Report on Thatcher's 1984 Battle with Miners
A report from ITN on Margaret Thatcher's battle with the National Union of Mineworkers in 1984.

Curbing the power of trade unions, as our colleagues reported was a top priority for Margaret Thatcher when she came to power in 1979.

A major test came in early 1984 when the government announced plans to shut down several coal mines that were nationalized in 1947. In response to the government's action to eliminate 20,000 jobs, the union's president called for a walkout.

Violent clashes ensued between hundreds of miners and the police with images shown night after night on television news broadcasts.

Mrs. Thatcher vowed not to back down.

The union's leader, Arthur Scargill, lost public support for the strike, including among some Labour leaders and his own members, when he did not quickly condemn actions that led to the death of a taxi driver taking a miner to work that fall. The driver was killed when a concrete slab was dropped on his cab.

Some of Mr. Scargill's union members sought to have the strike declared illegal. Meanwhile, Mrs. Thatcher was depicted in newspaper cartoons using her purse to flail a cowering Mr. Scargill. The strike ended after 362 days, without a settlement, paving the way for Mrs. Thatcher and the Conservative government to move ahead with the party's “popular capitalism” platform that led to the privatization of other state-run industries and 900,000 jobs.

- Jennifer Preston

5:21 P.M. Thatcher and Reagan
CNN's Nic Robertson on the relationship between Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan

Margaret Thatcher was known particularly for her close working relationship alliance with President Ronald Reagan, with whom she shared a profound ideological rejection of cold war Communism. In a statement released Monday, Nancy Reagan even called her husband and Mrs. Thatcher “political soul mates.”

It is well known that my husband and Lady Thatcher enjoyed a very special relationship as leaders of their respective countries during one of the most difficult and pivotal periods in modern history. Ronnie and Margaret were political soul mates, committed to freedom and resolved to end Communism. As prime minister, Margaret had the clear vision and strong determination to stand up for her beliefs at a time when so many were afraid to “rock the boat.” As a result, she helped to bring about the collapse of the Soviet Union and the liberation of millions of people.

In her eulogy for Mr. Reagan in 2004, Mrs. Thatcher called the former president “a dear friend.”

In his lifetime, Ronald Reagan was such a cheerful and invigorating presence that it was easy to forget what daunting historic tasks he set himself. He sought to mend America's wounded spirit, to restore the strength of the free world and to free the slaves of Communism. In the terrible hours after the attempt on his life, his easy jokes gave reassurances to an anxious world. They were evidence that in the aftermath of terror, and in the midst of hysteria, one great heart at least remained sane and jocular. They were truly grace under pressure. And perhaps they signified grace of a deeper kind. Ronnie himself certainly believed that he had been given back his life for a purpose.

Read the full text of the eulogy on the Margaret Thatcher Foundation's Web site

4:59 P.M. Thatcher on Gorbachev: ‘We Can Do Business Together.'
Associated Press

Mikhail Gorbachev, the last president of the former Soviet Union, issued a statement, describing Mrs. Thatcher as a “great politician.”

He recalls that their relationship, when it began in 1984, was difficult at times but grew to be more friendly. He said that eventually their ability to reach an understanding about each other and their countries contributed to changing the relationships between their countries, and between the former Soviet Union and the West.

In a 1984 television interview with the BBC's John Cole, Mrs. Thatcher said she was “cautiously optimistic” about her relationship with Mr. Gorbachev.

I like Mr. Gorbachev. We can do business together. We both believe in our own political systems. He firmly believes in his; I firmly believe in mine. We are never going to change one another. So that is not in doubt, but we have two great interests in common: that we should both do everything we can to see that war never starts again, and therefore we go into the disarmament talks determined to make them succeed. And secondly, I think we both believe that they are the more likely to succeed if we can build up confidence in one another and trust in one another about each other's approach, and therefore, we believe in cooperating on trade matters, on cultural matters, on quite a lot of contacts between politicians from the two sides of the divide.

- Jennifer Preston

3:54 P.M. Thatcher on '60 Minutes'

“It's not the job of a politician to do only those things which you think will be popular,” Margaret Thatcher told Diane Sawyer during this interview on “60 Minutes” in 1985.

Around the nine-minute mark, Mrs. Thatcher talks about the 1984 bombing of the Grand Hotel in Brighton, where she and others had been staying for a Conservative Party conference. The Irish Republican Army claimed responsibility for the attack that killed four people and wounded more than 30. Mrs. Thatcher went on to address the party as scheduled the next day.

Asked whether she thinks about that attempt on her life, Mrs. Thatcher said, “Look, every person in politics in the Western world takes that risk, and you just carry on, and we don't really think of it. We're deeply grateful to those who protect us. One day it may happen. My goodness me, the gunman is not going to stop us from carrying out the business of democracy. Ever. He will fail. And people must help him to fail by cutting off the money and supply of armaments he needs.”

4:02 P.M. Labour Leaders Recall Disagreements and Respect
Ed Miliband, Labour Party leader, remembers Margaret Thatcher

Ed Miliband, the leader of the Labour Party, said that his party disagreed with much of what Mrs. Thatcher did and that she would always remain a “controversial figure.” But he said at the time that we “also greatly respect her political achievements and her personal strength.”

“She will be remembered as a unique figure,” he said. “She reshaped the politics of a whole generation. She was Britain's first woman prime minister. She moved the center ground of British politics and was a huge figure on the world stage.”

Tony Blair, the former leader of the Labour Party, noted that some of the changes that Mrs. Thatcher made were retained by the Labour government in 1997 and “came to be implemented by governments around the world.”

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. As a person she was kind and generous spirited and was always immensely supportive to me as Prime Minister although we came from opposite sides of politics. 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.

Other comments by Labour leaders, including Gordon Brown, were gathered by LabourList.org.

Mr. Brown said that those who disagreed with Mrs. Thatcher “never doubted the strength of her convictions and her unwavering belief in Britain's destiny in the world.”

Sarah and I have sent messages to Lady Thatcher's son Mark and daughter Carol, offering our condolences to them and to the Thatcher family and commemorating Lady Thatcher's many decades of service to our country. She will be remembered not only for being Britain's first female prime minister and holding the office for 11 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. During our time in No. 10, Sarah and I invited Lady Thatcher to revisit Downing Street and Chequers â€" something which we know she enjoyed very much. But it was sad for her and her family that she lost her devoted husband Denis almost 10 years ago and that she was unable to enjoy good health in the later years of her retirement.

- Jennifer Preston

3:18 P.M. Margaret Thatcher, Cultural Icon
A puppet of the former prime minister from Spitting Image, a satirical series that ran in Britain in the 1980s and 1990s.Alastair Grant/Associated Press A puppet of the former prime minister from “Spitting Image,” a satirical series that ran in Britain in the 1980s and 1990s.

“The lady's not for turning,” Margaret Thatcher famously said in an early speech. But almost from the moment she moved into 10 Downing Street in 1979, Mrs. Thatcher, who died Monday at 87, was most definitely for filming, recording and generally excoriating by British artists and writers who saw a rich target in her stiff-necked conservative politics and stiffer coiffure. Our colleague Jennifer Schuessler takes a look at Mrs. Thatcher's influence on culture.

1:35 P.M. Sullivan: ‘I Was a Teenage Thatcherite'

The writer Andrew Sullivan, who credits his “entire political obsession” to Margaret Thatcher posted a tribute on his blog, The Dish:

I was a teenage Thatcherite, an uber-politics nerd who loved her for her utter lack of apology for who she was. I sensed in her, as others did, a final rebuke to the collectivist, egalitarian oppression of the individual produced by socialism and the stultifying privileges and caste identities of the class system. And part of that identity â€" the part no one ever truly gave her credit for â€" was her gender. She came from a small grocer's shop in a northern town and went on to educate herself in chemistry at Oxford, and then law. To put it mildly, those were not traditional decisions for a young woman with few means in the 1950s. She married a smart businessman, reared two children and forged a political career from scratch in the most male-dominated institution imaginable: the Tory party.

1:22 P.M. Quotable Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher was known for her sharp wit, which was evident in many of her public statements. Even at age 9, she had a quick tongue, credited with saying “I wasn't lucky; I deserved it,” when she received a prize at school.

Following is a video collection of selected speeches by Mrs. Thatcher - from remarks at the end of the Falklands war to her fight against European integration:

1:21 P.M. Video of Margaret Thatcher Delivering Speech in 1996
Excerpt of a speech delivered by Margaret Thatcher on the 50th anniversary of Winston Churchill's famous “Iron Curtain” speech.

In 1996, Margaret Thatcher traveled to Fulton, Mo., and delivered remarks on the 50th anniversary of Winston Churchill's famous “Iron Curtain” speech at Westminster College.

Mrs. Thatcher compared diplomacy and the state of international affairs in 1996 with 1946. She discussed the duality between optimism and uncertainty in the post-cold war era to the years after World War II. She also displayed her sense of humor, noting in the opening of her remarks that, unlike Mr. Churchill, she did not play poker with the president of the United States before the speech.

“I don't have the face for it,” she said.

Correction: An earlier version of this post misstated the state where Fulton, home to Westminster College, is located. It is in Missouri, not Mississippi.

- Jennifer Preston

12:36 P.M. TimesCast: Thatcher's Economics

The Times's Graham Bowley on how the former prime minister's fiscal policies linger in Britain.

12:20 P.M. Video of Thatcher Embracing Soviet ‘Iron Lady' Slur
Archival video of Margaret Thatcher joking about being called an “Iron Lady” by a Soviet newspaper in 1976.

As the Russian newspaper Pravda explained a few years ago, Margaret Thatcher was first called an “Iron Lady,” by the Soviet defense ministry newspaper Krasnaya Zvezda, or Red Star, in 1976. Within days, Mrs. Thatcher joked about the slur, telling fellow Conservatives:

I stand before you tonight in my Red Star chiffon evening gown, my face softly made up and my fair hair gently waved, the ‘Iron Lady' of the Western world. A Cold War warrior, an Amazon philistine, even a Peking plotter. Yes, if that's how they wish to interpret my defense of values and freedoms fundamental to our way of life. And by they, I mean that somewhat strange alliance between the comrades of the Russian defense ministry and our own defense minister. They're welcome to call me what they like if they believe that we should ignore the build-up of Russian military strength.

Robert Evans, who was the Reuters bureau chief in Moscow at the time, explained Monday that he first reported on the Soviet article.

Leafing through the text-heavy and highly lookalike newspapers of the day, I came across a catchy headline â€" and there weren't many of those in the Soviet media â€" in the army mouthpiece Red Star, or Krasnaya Zvezda in Russian. “Zheleznaya Dama Ugrozhayet,” it declared â€" “The Iron Lady Wields Threats.” The story below, by reporter Yuri Gavrilov, berated the woman who was then leader of Britain's Conservative opposition for a speech warning of the danger posed by Soviet weaponry.

“She is known by her compatriots as the Iron Lady,” Gavrilov asserted. As an exile Briton running Reuters' Moscow bureau, I had never heard the term applied to her and decided â€" in the absence of other news â€" that it was worth a story of my own. “British Tory leader Margaret Thatcher was today dubbed ‘the Iron Lady' by the Soviet Defense Ministry newspaper Red Star,” my piece read. It won wide play in the British media â€" without credit as is so often the fate of news agency reports.

Within a week, Thatcher â€" clad in scarlet â€" was herself demurely playing it up, clearly delighted at the term.

In an article on Mrs. Thatcher's death on Monday, the editors of Red Star saluted her spirited response to their barb. It had come, they explained, in response to a speech she had made on Jan. 19, 1976, in which she said:

The Russians are bent on world dominance, and they are rapidly acquiring the means to become the most powerful imperial nation the world has seen. The men in the Soviet politburo don't have to worry about the ebb and flow of public opinion. They put guns before butter, while we put just about everything before guns.

Mrs. Thatcher continued to embrace the nickname in later years, as Russia Today, a satellite news channel financed by the Russian government, noted in a video report on her death. “The Russians said that I was an ‘Iron Lady,'” Mrs. Thatcher said later. “They were right. Britain needs an Iron Lady.”

Video of Margaret Thatcher boasting of being called an “Iron Lady.”

- Robert Mackey

11:43 A.M. Video: Friendly Banter and a Dire Warning

In this video from 1990, Margaret Thatcher warns in a farewell parliamentary debate that a single currency would be used to end parliamentary democracy in Europe.

British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher on her opposition to a single European currency.

Full video of Mrs. Thatcher's final session of Prime Minister's Question Time.

11:22 A.M. Cameron: ‘She Saved Our Country'
Prime Minster David Cameron speaks about Margaret Thatcher.

Prime Minister David Cameron and London's mayor, Boris Johnson, offered tributes to Mrs. Thatcher, with Mr. Cameron describing her as “a great leader, a great prime minister, a great Briton.”

Mr. Cameron, who cut short a visit to Continental Europe to return to Britain, also said she deserved to be considered “the greatest British peacetime Prime Minister.”

“Lady Thatcher didn't just lead our country, she saved our country,” Mr. Cameron in a statement posted to Twitter.

11:17 A.M. Washington Reacts to Thatcher's Death

As our colleague Sarah Wheaton reports, Americans, especially those on the right, revered Margaret Thatcher, the three-term prime minister of Britain, as an important partner of President Ronald Reagan in the fight against communism.

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, said in a statement, “A great ally and admirer of the United States and a trusted partner of Ronald Reagan during some of the most challenging days of the cold war, Margaret Thatcher never hesitated to remind Americans of their own obligations to the cause of freedom and of the need for political courage and confidence in the face of long odds.”