Opinion: her legacy will not be remembered fondly here

The Star: Opinion.
The Star: Opinion.
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WHAT will be the epitaph to former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher?

The Iron Lady? The woman who was not for turning? The destroyer of the unions? The maker of a nation of homeowners? The Milk Snatcher?

Depending on where you live and the impact she had on your life and that of your family’s, a combination of one or all.

For few Prime Ministers of the modern age have had such a huge impact and left such a lasting legacy on our lives as Mrs Thatcher.

So as the nation comes to terms with the death of the first woman Prime Minister, we turn our attention to how she should be remembered.

She came to power paraphrasing the prayer of St Francis of Assisi. Yet in reality, she failed to live up to those words.

We were led into war, we became a nation of discord epitomised by the conflict between the unions and the state and by the poll tax protestors and the Government. We lost our faith in the sense of community with an aggressive encouragement of self-improvement and the rise of the Yuppy.

And yet, will history judge Mrs Thatcher as the woman who merely precipitated what was the inevitable?

Would our steel industry have survived as a state-owned concern in the face of fierce competition from India? Without the reforming zeal of Sir Ian MacGregor would we have any vestige of a steel industry at all?

Was our mining industry already moribund and destined to death by a thousand closures?

On the day after miners paid their last farewell to Maltby Colliery, it is ironic that the woman who led the charge against the National Union of Mineworkers also lost her fight for life.

Mrs Thatcher will never be remembered fondly in our hearts – but then again she was never the kind of leader who craved that kind of popularity.

She provided leadership where others had feared to tread.

She was not afraid to take the difficult decisions or to take on anyone who stood in her way.

And by so doing she has left a legacy far greater than any other Prime Minister of our time.

But it is a bitter legacy here in South Yorkshire.

Too many lives were destroyed by her fearsome reformism. Too many communities were torn apart by her aggressive policies. And too many scars are still fresh on our political and physical landscape for us ever to view her as she wanted to in the words of St Francis.