Margaret Thatcher dies: British newspapers debate legacy

Margaret Thatcher's legacy and political career is debated extensively in the media the morning after her death.

The bulk of British papers are dedicated to the late former Prime Minister, whose uncompromising politics and stubborn leadership divided the opinion of the nation - and also the newspapers.

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'The Daily Telegraph' eschews a headline on its front page, instead letting a portrait of Thatcher speak for itself. In 25 pages of tributes and coverage of her death, it writes: "If Britain is still Great, it is because of this greatest of Britons."

In a nod to the enduring impact of her policies, a cartoon depicts the long shadow of Lady Thatcher's black handbag looming over the door of 10 Downing Street, while the leader says: "Historians will rightly scrutinise the detail. But in doing, so we must not forget the bigger picture in which the force of beliefs, the force of character and the force of what, incredibly, people used to call "the weaker sex" came together in one woman."

'The Daily Mail' similarly lauds Lady Thatcher today as "the woman who saved Britain", and launches a campaign for a full state funeral, despite her wishes. In its editorial it praises her as a leader who "changed the landscape of politics, at home and through the world, in ways that reverberate to this day", calling her "a giant, beside whom other peacetime politicians of the 20th and 21st centuries look like mere pygmies".

In his commentary in the newspaper Sir Max Hastings says that she "restored the primacy of individual opportunity to a nation crippled by the burdens of state collectivism", saying: "If Britain prospers in the 21st Century, our debt to Margaret Thatcher will be greater than to any of her successors."

[Related: Revered or reviled the world over]


'The Times' calls Lady Thatcher "A Woman of Simple Truths", saying "On the big issues of her time, she made the right choices", while 'The Independent' said she "set the standard for how to wield prime ministerial power".

'The Guardian' underlines the polarising impact Baroness Thatcher's politics had on Britain, saying: "There should be no dancing on her grave but it is right there is no state funeral either. Her legacy is of public division, private selfishness and a cult of greed, which together shackle far more of the human spirit than they ever set free."

'The Daily Mirror', meanwhile is incredulous about plans for a ceremonial funeral, saying her politics left "bruised and bloodied casualties". In its editorial the newspaper says: "Margaret Thatcher broke Britain and replaced what had come before with something crueller, nastier", calling her premiership "disastrous".

'The Sun' says Lady Thatcher was a "Unique PM of great courage", admiring her for sticking to her principles and saying Britain emerged "far stronger" for the policies she steered through.

Regional newspapers also reflected the deep divisions Baroness Thatcher inspired across Britain. The front page of 'the Star' in Sheffield, a city that felt a deep impact from her policies on mining, reads: "We Can Never Forgive Her", while 'The Herald' in Scotland sums up her life in politics: "Thatcher: Passing of a political giant loved and hated in equal measure".