(and there didn't seem to be many who had an opinion in between those two poles)..Margaret Thatcher's rise to Prime Minister with the Conservative election victory, 30 years ago next month (wow), changed the UK forever and with Reagan being elected 18 months later, set the stage for an era of conservatism that we may just now be leaving. Ironically, it now seems that the US and the UK may be about to diverge politically, with a tired Labour government in power since 1997 almost certainly about to be replaced by a Conservative one by 2010. Mind you, UK Conservatives are rather different from their US counterparts; not beholden to a religious right, and actually pretty gay-friendly, at least at the leadership level. The Conservative candidate for Thatcher's hometown
is openly gay, and nobody appears to be freaked out by it.
All this is preamble to a rather long but fascinating article
from the Guardian that reads a little bit like an obituary for her (she's not in good health). The reporter goes back to Thatcher's hometown, and finds there the same absence of interest in her place in history that appears to exist in the country as a whole. It's almost as if she were a Stalinesque figure whose statues have been pulled down, and most references to her removed from the public square. Yet she is still alive, a shadow of her former glory. The article has some delicious little phrases that may resonate best with Brits of a certain age (reference to loss of society; the 'handbag thieves' sign). The psycho-analysis section is quite amusing, since the Freudian analysis of Thatcher is so at odds with her image of lack of sexuality, her non-feminism. So ironic that the first female PM was utterly inimical to women's issues and positively placed hurdles in the way of other women in her party trying to climb the ladder.
When she does finally shuffle off, it will be interesting to see how she is remembered, and what kind of send-off she gets. I think I can guarantee that there will be no push to name something in every part of the UK for her, a la Reagan.