Margaret Thatcher, the first British female Prime Minister passed away this morning following a stroke. A massively transformational figure, Thatcher radically changed the face of British politics, steering the country away from socialism to market capitalism alongside her ideological compadre in the United States, Ronald Reagan. From the Independent:
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.
Lord Bell, her spokesman and former adviser, said: "It is with great sadness that Mark and Carol Thatcher announced that their mother Baroness Thatcher died peacefully following a stroke this morning."
In a statement Downing Street said she will be given a special ceremonial funeral, similar to those accorded to the Queen Mother and Diana, the Princess of Wales. She had been in poor health for some months and was living at the Ritz Hotel in London so that she could be cared for more easily.
The service will be held at St Paul's Cathedral with a “wide and diverse range of people and groups with connections to Lady Thatcher” being invited. The service will be followed by a private cremation.
The Telegraph outlines Thatcher's defining policies:
The centrepiece of her first administration was the reform of trades unions and the restructuring of the British economy. The top rate of tax was soon cut to 60 per cent from 83 per cent, and a punitive rate of 98 per cent on unearned income was brought down to the standard tax rates. Exchange controls were lifted and VAT was raised from eight to 15 per cent to shift the balance towards an economy where taxes on consumption rather than on income were the norm. Subsidies to loss-making industries were also ended, as British business was told to compete on its own in world markets.
The structural change meant that millions were put on the dole, unemployment rising by 1982 to its highest — at over three million — since the slump of the 1930s. The Thatcher government, and notably its chief, became seriously unpopular. Her hard-minded dealings with domestic problems and with international rivals — notably the Soviet bloc and the European Community, from which she won a huge rebate on Britain’s contribution — earned her the title of “the Iron Lady”. It was one she relished.
Some reactions from politicians in the UK:
Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted: "It was with great sadness that l learned of Lady Thatcher's death. We've lost a great leader, a great Prime Minister and a great Briton."
London Mayor Boris Johnson tweeted: "Very sad to hear of death of Baroness Thatcher. Her memory will live long after the world has forgotten the grey suits of today's politics."
Former Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy gave the following tribute:
"In extending sincere sympathy to the Thatcher family we remember today a landmark political figure, both at home and abroad. She was one of those politicians who made the weather.
As a politically divisive figure - not least where Scotland was concerned - her legacy will always be controversial.
And she continues to cast a considerable shadow across today's Conservative party.
But her impact - positive and negative - remains near immeasurable."
Nick Robinson Political editor at the BBC tweeted: "The dominant figure of post-war British politics is dead. Love her or loathe her, Margaret Thatcher shaped this country as few others did."
The BBC outlines the 'profound effect' Thatcher had on British politics:
Baroness Thatcher was Conservative prime minister from 1979 to 1990, the first woman to hold the post
Her legacy had a profound effect upon the policies of her successors, both Conservative and Labour
Her detractors saw her as the personification of an uncaring new philosophy known as Thatcherism
Her supporters believe she transformed the nation - attempting to release the grip of the state
She was known as the Iron Lady - a title bestowed upon her by her enemies in Moscow
Here is a brief clip of Margaret Thatcher debating economic philosophy with members of the Labour Party in her last speech in the House of Commons on 22 November 1990: