GLOBALPOST LIVE BLOG: MARGARET THATCHER DEAD
UPDATE: 4/8/13 4:00 PM ET
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams: "Thatcher did great hurt ... Her Irish policy failed miserably"
“Margaret Thatcher did great hurt to the Irish and British people during her time as British Prime Minister.
"Working class communities were devastated in Britain because of her policies.
"Her role in international affairs was equally belligerent whether in support of the Chilean dictator Pinochet, her opposition to sanctions against apartheid South Africa; and her support for the Khmer Rouge.
"Here in Ireland her espousal of old draconian militaristic policies prolonged the war and caused great suffering. She embraced censorship, collusion and the killing of citizens by covert operations, including the targeting of solicitors like Pat Finucane, alongside more open military operations and refused to recognise the rights of citizens to vote for parties of their choice.
"Her failed efforts to criminalise the republican struggle and the political prisoners is part of her legacy.
"It should be noted that in complete contradiction of her public posturing, she authorised a back channel of communications with the Sinn Féin leadership but failed to act on the logic of this.
"Unfortunately she was faced with weak Irish governments who failed to oppose her securocrat agenda or to enlist international support in defence of citizens in the north.
"Margaret Thatcher will be especially remembered for her shameful role during the epic hunger strikes of 1980 and 81.
"Her Irish policy failed miserably."
UPDATE: 4/8/13 3:40 PM ET
From another female leader, Germany's Angela Merkel
"It is with sadness that I learned of the death of Margaret Thatcher. As longtime prime minister, she marked modern Britain like few before or since. She was one of the outstanding leaders of the world politics of their time.
"The liberty of the individual was at the heart of her convictions, Margaret Thatcher recognized early on the power of freedom movements in Eastern Europe and stood up for them. I will not forget her role in ending the division of Europe and ending the Cold War."
Merkel said Thatcher was not merely a "woman politician" but "since she took the highest office in the days before that was common, she set an example for many."
UPDATE: 4/8/13 2:28 PM ET
Emotion running high in Britain
AFP — Flags were lowered to half-mast at Britain's parliament to mark the death of Margaret Thatcher on Monday, and flowers piled up at her London home — but at the other end of the political spectrum, left-wingers joyfully planned parties to celebrate her departure.
On the streets of London's financial district — whose power was fuelled by Thatcher's deregulation of the financial sector — many passers-by reacted with dismay to the passing of the former Conservative premier.
"It's a shame, a crying shame. She's a good woman," said Alan Whiteford, a law firm employee.
"It's a sad day," added banker Nick Daking.
At Thatcher's former home in central London, a pile of flowers was growing on the doorstep.
"The greatest British leader and a true lady," one card read. "You make Britain what it is."
But in the edgy south London neighbourhood of Brixton, sworn enemies of the former Iron Lady were planning a huge street party for Monday evening — with more than 600 people listed as attending on Facebook.
Coal miners were among Thatcher's bitterest foes during her 1979-90 premiership — and for one senior mining official marking his birthday on Monday, her death was the icing on the cake.
"I'm having a drink to it right now," David Hopper, regional secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) in northeast England, told AFP with unabashed glee.
"It's a marvellous day. I'm absolutely delighted. It's my 70th birthday today and it's one of the best I've had in my life."
UPDATE: 4/8/13 1:53 PM ET
Israel: Thatcher "inspired a generation of political leaders"
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's remarks on Thatcher's passing, communicated by the Prime Minister's media adviser to GlobalPost Senior Correspondent Noga Tarnopolsky:
"Today I mourn the passing of Prime Minister Baroness Margaret Thatcher. She was truly a great leader, a woman of principle, of determination, of conviction, of strength; a woman of greatness. She was a staunch friend of Israel and the Jewish people. She inspired a generation of political leaders. I send my most sincere condolences to her family and to the government and people of Great Britain."
Israel's president, Shimon Peres, also issued a statement:
"There are people, there are ideas. Occasionally those two come together to create vision. Lady Thatcher was an exceptional leader, a colleague in the international arena and a friend for me personally. She served as an inspiration for other leaders, as the first female Prime Minister of Great Britain she broke new ground. She showed how far a person can go with strength of character, determination and a clear vision.
"She was a true and dedicated friend of Israel, who stood with us in times of crisis and used her influence to help us in trying to make peace. During our negotiations with Jordan in the late 1980s, she stood as a mediator and a source of wisdom for me and the King of Jordan.
"I send my sincere condolences to her family, to her friends and to the people of Great Britain."
UPDATE: 4/8/13 1:07 PM ET
Not too soon? Anti-Thatcherites ready to party
The Iron Lady, as she is colloquially called, was a polarizing figure to be sure. So it should come as no surprise that the news of her death has triggered an outpouring of merriment in addition to mourning.
Yes, anti-Thatcherites the world over are throwing parties to celebrate her passing. And not any old shindig cobbled together at the last minute.
— David Brodie (@DavidBrodie23) April 8, 2013
UPDATE: 4/8/13 11:48 AM ET
Leaked US cables describe "frightfully English" Thatcher
"Margaret Thatcher has blazed into national prominence almost literally from out of nowhere," announced a 1975 US State Department cable about the former British prime minister, among the diplomatic documents released Monday by the renegade pro-transparency group WikiLeaks.
The cables paint a fascinating early portrait of a woman who would go on to become one of Britain's most controversial leaders.
UPDATE: 4/8/13 11:35 AM ET
Obama: Thatcher was "true friend" of America
The White House released the following statement by President Barack Obama on Thatcher's death:
"With the passing of Baroness Margaret Thatcher, 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.
"Here in America, many of us will never forget her standing shoulder to shoulder with President Reagan, reminding the world that we are not simply carried along by the currents of history—we can shape them with moral conviction, unyielding courage and iron will. Michelle and I send our thoughts to the Thatcher family and all the British people as we carry on the work to which she dedicated her life—free peoples standing together, determined to write our own destiny."
The president's official Twitter account sounded a more personal note:
"She stands as an example to our daughters that there is no glass ceiling that can’t be shattered." —Obama on Margaret Thatcher's passing
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) April 8, 2013
UPDATE: 4/8/13 11:22 AM ET
European leaders react
Statement by European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso:
"Let me, on behalf of myself and the European Commission, say that I was deeply saddened to hear the news of the death of Baroness Thatcher.
"She was without doubt a great stateswoman, the first female Prime Minister of her country, and a circumspect yet engaged player in the European Union. She will be remembered for both her contributions to and her reserves about our common project. She signed the Single European Act and helped bring about the Single Market. She was a leading player in bringing into the European family the Central and Eastern European countries which were formerly behind the Iron Curtain. As you remember, Britain under Mrs. Thatcher's leadership was very supportive of the enlargement of the European Union.
"Her legacy has done much to shape the United Kingdom as we know it today, including the special role of the United Kingdom in the European Union that endures to this day.
"I would like to convey my deepest regrets to the Government and people of the United Kingdom."
President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz, a Germany Social Democrat:
"Margaret Thatcher marked British and European political life. Despite our clear political differences, Margaret Thatcher is a figure of historic significance ... No matter whether one agrees with her policies or not, Margaret Thatcher showed that politics still has the capacity to be a force for change. My thoughts are with her family and friends."
Statement from French President Francois Hollande's office, translated by GlobalPost Senior Correspondent Paul Ames:
"With Margaret Thatcher we've lost a great personality who profoundly marked the history of her country during the 11 years when she was prime minister of Great Britain.
"Throughout her public life, with her conservative convictions which she fully expressed, she always protected the influence of the United Kingdom and defended its interests.
"Her relations with France were always frank and loyal. She was able to develop a constructive and fruitful dialogue with Francois Mitterrand. Together they made a point of strengthening the links between our two countries. It was at this time that Mrs. Thatcher gave a decisive push for the construction of the tunnel under the Channel.
"The president of the Republic expresses his profound and sincere condolences to the family and friends of Margaret Thatcher and sends solidarity to the British people."
A Conservative top member of European Parliament:
"Margaret Thatcher was the greatest world leader of our age. We deeply feel her loss but we also celebrate the extraordinary legacy she has left Britain, Europe and the world," said Martin Callanan, a British Conservative who heads the European Conservatives and Reformists group in the European Parliament.
"Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan helped to transform the political map of Europe. Their strength in facing down the communists inspired millions of people from Central and Eastern Europe to believe that freedom could be achieved," he added.
Eastern European gratitude:
Former Polish President Lech Walesa said, "She was a grand personality, that did many things for the world and contributed to the fall of communism in Poland and in Eastern Europe, together with Ronald Reagan, Pope John Paul II and the Solidarity union."
Former president of the Czech Republic Vaclav Klaus told the BBC, "Thatcher was one of the greatest politicians of our time, in the Czech republic she was our hero." Klaus has been called Europe's last Thatcherite for his open-market, conservative and Euroskeptic views.
Vytautas Landsbergis, a leader of Lithuania's independence movement and its first president after it broke away from the USSR:
"She was an outstanding figure of our times, a wise and strong-willed politician who, to a large extent, determined not only the course of her own country's history but that of Europe as well."
Statement by European Union President Herman Van Rompuy:
"It is with great sadness that I received the news of the passing away of Baroness Thatcher.
"Ms. Thatcher, as she then was, was a remarkable personality and one of the most influential European leaders of her time. During her 11 years in government, Ms. Thatcher was a transformative force in the United Kingdom and equally important in shaping the European agenda.
"On behalf of the European Union I would like to send my sincere condolences to the family and to the people and the government of the United Kingdom."
Statement by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen:
"I am deeply saddened by the death of Baroness Thatcher. I express my most profound condolences to her family and the people of the United Kingdom.
"Baroness Thatcher was an extraordinary politician who was a staunch defender of freedom, a powerful advocate of NATO and the transatlantic bond. She strongly supported NATO values and principles, believed in a strong defence and played a leading role in ending the Cold War. Throughout her tenure as British prime minister, Margaret Thatcher stood on principle and showed great courage, vision and leadership."
UPDATE: 4/8/13 11:05 AM ET
The Iron Lady in her own words
Ex-British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who died Monday at the age of 87, was known for calling a spade a spade. Thatcher, nicknamed the “Iron Lady,” was and remains a polarizing figure in British and global politics for her uncompromisingly conservative policies.
As the following quotes show, Thatcher spoke her mind and seemed unconcerned about whom she might offend, even her own husband.
“Defeat? I do not recognize the meaning of the word.” – Thatcher on being told in 1982 that involving Britain in the Falklands conflict could result in defeat
"I don't mind how much my ministers talk, as long as they do what I say." – Thatcher in 1980, a year after becoming Britain’s first female prime minister
“My policies are based not on some economics theory, but on things I and millions like me were brought up with: an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay; live within your means; put by a nest egg for a rainy day; pay your bills on time; support the police.” – Thatcher in an interview in September 1981
"Pennies don't fall from heaven, they have to be earned here on earth." – Thatcher in a speech at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet in November 1979
"To those waiting with bated breath for that favorite media catchphrase, the U-turn, I have only one thing to say. You turn if you want to. The lady's not for turning." – Thatcher during the Conservative party conference in October 1980. She was responding to expectations that there would be an about-turn on tough economic policies
"We have become a grandmother." – Thatcher’s statement to the media on the birth of her first grandchild in 1989
“Nobody would remember the Good Samaritan if he had only good intentions. He had money as well." – Thatcher’s response during an interview in 1980 about whether her savage spending cuts would lead to greater inequality in Britain
"Home is where you come to when you've got nothing better to do." – Thatcher’s remark in May 1991, six months after leaving office
UPDATE: 4/8/13 10:36 AM ET
GlobalPost Senior Correspondent Paul Ames writes from Brussels:
"Thatcher will leave a mixed legacy in Europe. Her single-minded drive to install free-market, small government policies was reviled by many, particularly in France, as the origin of "anglo-saxon neo-liberalism." Many still view that as a threat to the welfare state and the much-cherished European model that combines capitalism with labor protection and a strong social safety net.
"She was also the inspiration for British Euroskepticism. Her 'we want our money back' demands irked many in Brussels as undermining the unity between rich and poor members of the European Commission — a problem that still resonates in the current euro zone crisis.
"Across much of eastern Europe, however Thatcher will be remembered as the leader who, along with Ronald Reagan, took on the Soviet Union and helped bring down communist regimes there. Fading black and white photos of her still adorn market stalls in Budapest, and her free-market policies are an inspiration for many politicians in the east."
UPDATE: 4/8/13 10:15 AM ET
"I might have preferred iron, but bronze will do"
GlobalPost Senior Correspondent Corinne Purtill sends this dispatch of reactions from London:
The news of Thatcher's death was broken by Lord Tim Bell, a key architect of Thatcher’s 1979 parliamentary victory who also served as her spokesman in later years.
When asked by the BBC Monday afternoon if he could offer more information about the news he received from the Thatcher family, he said, “Not really. Margaret was a very private person, and her family is very private, we weren’t in the business of talking about that sort of thing.
"She was the most extraordinary person. … She tried to transform people’s lives, in this country and around the world.”
Prime Minister David Cameron, who hails from Thatcher's Conservative Party, is returning to Britain immediately from a press conference in Madrid, cutting short a planned European tour to press for reforms in Brussels.
Thatcher last spoke in public in February 2007 at the unveiling of her statue in the House of Commons. "I might have preferred iron, but bronze will do. It won't rust. And, this time I hope, the head will stay on," she said. (A previous statue of the baroness was decapitated by a vandal in 2002 while on loan to London’s Guildhall.)
The BBC reported that in accordance with her wishes, Thatcher will not have a state funeral, nor will her body lie in state. Instead, she will have a ceremonial funeral, akin to that given the Queen Mother or the former Princess Diana.
Louise Mensch, author and former Conservative member of parliament, said: “Devastated to read of the death of Lady Thatcher. The greatest woman ever to have entered politics. Our greatest peacetime prime minister."
Actor and comedian David Schneider, tweeted: “Ok, Twitter. It's that moment. Switch Decency settings to maximum and all will be fine.”
Alan Sugar, flamboyant and outspoken UK business magnate and member of the House of Lords (he’s the Trump equivalent on the UK version of “The Apprentice”): “Baroness Thatcher in the 80s kick-started the entrepreneurial revolution that allowed chirpy chappies to succeed and not just the elite. Some of the despicable scum tweeting foul mouth comments on my Baroness Thatcher tweet, were still drinking milk from a teat in the 80s.”
UPDATE: 4/8/13 10:08 AM ET
Flags at Parliament, 10 Downing Street at half mast
GlobalPost correspondent Corinne Purtill reports that the Union Jack has been lowered to half mast at the offices of the prime minister and the house of parliament.
Thatcher was a controversial but mighty figure in British and world politics. She was the UK's first female prime minister, elected in 1979, and served in that role for 11 years. She began her career in politics decades earlier, and was long known for her hard-line conservative stances.
Photograph via AFP:
Workmen lower Britain's Union flag to half-mast above 10 Downing Street(AFP PHOTO/Leon Neal)twitpic.com/chx377
— Rodrigo (@RodrigoEBR) April 8, 2013
UPDATE: 4/8/13 10:00 AM ET
Thatcher's legacy of lactose intolerance
From London, GlobalPost correspondent Corinne Purtill sends this report:
"One of the lowest points in [Thatcher's] popularity came in 1971 during her tenure as education secretary. In a bid to cut expenses, the Conservative government scrapped free lunchtime milk for all children over 7. The move was wildly unpopular and earned Thatcher the nickname 'Milk Snatcher.'
"In a bit of irony, her death broke at the same time as news of baby milk rationing in the UK. Several commenters gleefully pointed out the serendipitous headline pairing."
Anyone else see the hilarity in the BBC's two headlines of 'Thatcher Dies' and 'UK retailers ration baby milk'? twitter.com/thelastskeptik…
— The Last Skeptik (@thelastskeptik) April 8, 2013
UPDATE: 4/8/13 9:55 AM ET
Cher fans panic over #nowthatchersdead
News of Thatcher's death — which has been prematurely called before — inadvertantly caused brief alarm among some of Cher's most ardent followers this morning. Why? Because the hashtag for "Now Thatcher's Dead" can also be read as "Now That Cher's Dead."
I note with curiosity that the hashtag #nowthatchersdead is trending from Melbourne to Dublin. I can't confirm anywhere that Cher is dead?
— Richie Benaud (@RichieBenaud_) April 8, 2013
Some people are in a frenzy over the hashtag #nowthatchersdead.It's "Now Thatcher's dead". Not, "Now that Cher's dead" JustSayin'
— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) April 8, 2013
Has there even been a more epic hashtag fail? #nowthatchersdead
— Karen Tumulty(@ktumulty) April 8, 2013
— Mathew Ingram (@mathewi) April 8, 2013
UPDATE: 4/8/13 9:50 AM ET
An instant, mixed reaction
UPDATE: 4/8/13 8:45 AM ET
The Iron Lady passes away
Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher has died following a stroke, her spokesman announced on Monday. She was 87.
"It is with great sadness that Mark and Carol Thatcher announced that their mother Baroness Thatcher died peacefully following a stroke this morning," Lord Timothy Bell, Thatcher's former adviser, told the media. He added that a more detailed statement would be released later in the day.
Thatcher, with the Queen’s consent, will be given a full ceremonial funeral at St. Paul’s Cathedral. A ceremonial funeral is different from a state funeral, as the BBC details.
Also known as the Iron Lady — the title of a 2011 biopic in which she was played by Meryl Streep — Thatcher was a notoriously controversial figure in British and world politics. Britain's first female prime minister, she was a staunch supporter of free-market policies and infamous for her hard-line stances on government spending.
Prime Minister David Cameron reacted to the news via Twitter, with his official account stating: "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."
Of course, anyone familiar with Thatcher's legacy knows that there are plenty who don't agree.
From London, GlobalPost's Corinne Purtill wrote: "Since 2010, there's been a site called Is Thatcher Dead Yet — just a single page with the words 'Not Yet' in large black letters on a white background. Was updated within a minute of the official report to 'Yes.'"
— Is Thatcher Dead Yet (@thatcherdeadyet) April 8, 2013
The same group posted a link to a decidedly anti-Thatcher playlist of songs, including "Ding Dong! Emerald City" and "All You Fascists."
Purtill noted that the Twitter hashtag promoted by the group, "#nowthatchersdead," was causing alarm among singer Cher's fanbase, some of whom read the hashtag as "Now That Cher’s Dead."
Several parties to celebrate, rather than mourn, Thatcher's death have also been promoted since the news of her passing. GlobalPost's Purtill reported this afternoon, London time receiving her first invitation to attend one of them.
Thatcher helmed British government from No. 10 Downing Street for 11 years, from 1979 to 1990. She had previously spent years working at lower levels of government.