Margaret Thatcher was a divisive political figure. Do you think she was one of Britain's 'best' or 'worst' Prime Ministers?


2 Answers

Paul Wilson Profile
Paul Wilson answered

Hi Dan,

There are going to be
any number of way of answering this, dependent on how you define
'best' and 'worst'. Opinions are also going to be dependent on
whether you consider yourself a beneficiary of her policies, or a
victim, and on your political affiliation (which is often bizarrely
not related to your own interests but driven instead by peer pressure
and gut feel).

One approach might be
to define what is takes to be a successful Prime Minister, and
measure accordingly. How about the following criteria: -

  1. Political skill
    (sensing mood, persuasion, getting elected).

  2. Ability to get
    things done (starting, continuing and finishing).

  3. A clear personal
    vision of what is going wrong, and what needs to change.

  4. Right place, right
    time (events, dear boy, events).

  5. Making a real
    difference, and be seen to do so.

Note that these don't
require anybody to agree with ideology or direction of outcomes, or
to like the person. Just because a political leader doesn't do what
you want them to do, or that you find them deeply unattractive as a
person, has no relevance to greatness; the opposite applies of

It is easy to imagine
(look around..) and find political leaders that are consummate in (1)
– you wouldn't notice them otherwise, and I suggest they could
get through without being seen as a 'bad' Prime Minister on a
combination of (1) and (4) alone. I would suggest that most of those
we have seen in the last 100 years satisfy at best three of the
criteria above.

You can see where this
is going – in my opinion it would be hard not give Margaret
Thatcher high scores in 5/5 out of these criteria. Whether we like it
or not, history will judge her a great Prime Minister, and that has
to make her among the best, along with Churchill and Clement Atlee.
They all had the benefit of (4) above, and got things done.

Paul (No political

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Paul Wilson
Paul Wilson commented
Just found the above - pretty much how I remember it!
Dan Banks
Dan Banks commented
Really interesting read. I've found it almost impossible to find out the true impact of Thatcher's policies or the state the country was in before she came to power. That's probably because she was so divisive, and hence why it's so hard to find a balanced view.
Paul Wilson
Paul Wilson commented
Yeah, everybody has an axe to grind so all you hear is what fit's each pundit's position. Most of what you hear is polarised rubbish on both sides. I am hoping for a few good analyses over the next few months now she is gone though. Can't get away from the fact that she was difficult to like though, even before the hard decisions were taken, and that colours perceptions.
Christian Bell-Young Profile

I think that, irrespective of her policies, she was a key figure in history, inspirational to many, and instrumental in changing the way the country works. To some people, she messed it up; to others, she made it better. I'm too young to remember what she did, but from what history has told me, she was revolutionary, and always will be.

All that aside, I don't think it's right that her opposers have been dancing on her grave. The things people have been posting on Facebook and the reports in the news...I think it's disgraceful that some people can be so harsh and so callous. She may have some mistakes, but it was a long time ago. Let an elderly woman rest in peace.

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