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Thu Sep 29 17:15:53 SAST 2016

Thatcher will be remembered in polar-opposite ways

The Times Editorial | 09 April, 2013 01:30

The Times Editorial: Perhaps more than any other leader in peace time, Margaret Thatcher, who died yesterday after suffering a stroke, helped refashion the global political landscape.

Admired by conservatives around the world - including those in government in apartheid South Africa - Thatcher was reviled by socialists, and a good many liberals, everywhere.

She and her ideological kindred spirit US President Ronald Reagan formed, in the words of the Reuters news agency ''the most unlikely but dominant international pairing of the late 20th century, triumphing side-by-side in the Cold War".

The two leaders, who polarised opinion in their own countries with their market-driven economic policies and welfare and tax cutbacks, stood shoulder to shoulder against the spread of communism. When no longer in power, they would witness the ultimate fruits of their endeavours: the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

At home, Thatcher made many bitter enemies, not least the coal-mining union she broke by refusing to give in to its demands in the 1980s.

Yesterday, while world leaders, including those of radically different ideological persuasions, paid tribute to her, the coal miners of the north celebrated her passing as a "great day". One veteran unionist said Thatcher had ''absolutely hated working people".

The divisive effect of Thatcher's foreign policies is still felt in South Africa today.

Pik Botha, foreign minister under a series of Nationalist prime ministers, eulogised her as having done more to help South Africa to "get rid of apartheid" than any other leader of her time. But in its tribute, the ANC recalled how it had been ''on the receiving end of her policy in terms of refusing to recognise the ANC as the representatives of South Africans and her failure to isolate apartheid after it had been described as a crime against humanity''.


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