Margaret Thatcher was a bad Prime Minister

Former British Prime Minister Thatcher is dead

In this gallery: 4 pictures

If you believe the hateful announcements, the champagne corks are popping in many left-liberal intellectual households. Elsewhere, in the suburbs, in the City of London, in the country's conservative clubs, there will be real, heartfelt grief. Ardent admirers instinctively feel like implacable opponents: Margaret Hilda Thatcher was a figure of epoch-making importance, the most important head of government since the war premier Winston Churchill. No contemporary has divided the British as deeply as the first and so far only Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1979-1990), who died of a stroke in London on Monday at the age of 87.

Thatcher will not receive a full state funeral, but a funeral service with great military ceremonies. Downing Street announced this on Monday. The celebrations are expected to take place in London's St. Paul's Cathedral in the middle of next week. At the request of the "Iron Lady", the corpse is not laid out in public.

Made for globalization

Thatcher's admirers argue that she made Britain great again: freed the sick man of Europe from the stranglehold of the trade unions and made him fit for globalization; the British torn out of their lethargy and thereby unleashed enormous creative potential, not least in the financial industry; strengthened the West through close ties to America and thus accelerated the end of the Cold War. Thatcher's Despiser, an American bridgehead in Europe, a gigantic low-tax area in which the worst excesses of casino capitalism were allowed to let off steam unhindered, object that the island has become vulgar, intolerant, gross.

Bringed opponents to white heat

On the international stage, she made partners and adversaries rage. The term "iron lady" was planned by Soviet propagandists as a contempt for the staunch anti-communist; she adopted the term proudly. Her co-thinker, US President Ronald Reagan, groaned at Thatcher's never-ending lectures, as did German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt ("Rhinoceros") and French President Francois Mitterrand, who also saw women in the tough practitioner of power: "She has eyes like Caligula, but Marilyn Monroe's mouth. "

"Tory Nationalism"

Thatcher acted and negotiated with iron toughness and perseverance, occasionally with flattery and, if necessary, with tears for what she understood as British interests - a "crystal clear vision of Tory nationalism" has been called by the historian David Marquand. She reduced Great Britain's excessive net contributions to the Brussels treasury and fought for the EU's internal market. She sent an expeditionary force 8,000 kilometers around the globe and had the Falkland Islands recaptured from the Argentines in 1982.

Earlier than others, she placed her hopes in Mikhail Gorbachev as the future reformer (and ultimately the administrator of the estate) of the Soviet Union. Her warning of climate change in 1988 was visionary: "Unintentionally, we started a huge experiment with the foundations of the earth." In 1989/90, the Prime Minister was faintheartedly opposed to German unity: "We have defeated them twice, now they are back," was her resentment.

Ideologist of Thatcherism

For contemporaries and political descendants, Thatcher remains above all the ideologist of Thatcherism - that is, the energetic fight against inflation; the unleashing of market forces, not least in the labor market; the privatization of state-owned companies. The happiness of the able instead of solidarity in decline - this break with the consensus of the post-war period remains Thatcher's legacy.

The daughter of a greengrocer from the small town of Grantham (County Lincoln) fought her way up with an iron will: to study chemistry at the elite University of Oxford, to a secure seat in parliament in the north London borough of Finchley (1959), and finally to the top of her party (1975 ) and their country. Thatcher remained a three-time outsider, as the German historian Dominik Geppert noted: "As a woman, because of her social background from the lower middle class and because of her religious roots in Methodism". Such an ascent is hardly conceivable without an almost messianic certainty of one's own importance.

Breaks the power of the unions

Based on the billions in income from North Sea oil, the "iron lady" lowered taxes, made millions of British homeowners, and broke the power of the trade unions. The liberalization of the City of London marked its rise to the most important financial center in the world, admittedly also one of the incubators of casino capitalism, which plunged the world into the worst economic crisis since the 1930s.

The dogma that the British government should act as the mouthpiece of the bankers stems from Thatcher's tenure. Social inequality increased immensely, a primitive materialism spread that scorns all conservative values. Margaret Thatcher left entire regions to fend for themselves. She let de-industrialized cities slip away and concentrated her efforts on the south of England. There she won her elections. In northern England, Wales and Scotland, a Tory could not even show up for years, let alone hope for an election.

Break with Brussels

Towards the end of their lives, Thatcher and her whisperers longed for a break with Brussels - by then the ethicist of responsibility had turned into a propagandist of English nationalism. "Throughout my life, our problems came from the continent, but the solutions came from the English-speaking countries of the world," she said at the 1999 Tory party conference.

After several strokes and the death of her husband Denis in 2003, with whom she had twins in 1953, Thatcher withdrew from the public. In 2008, her daughter Carol described the elderly dementia of the powerful mother in detail - the template for the film "The Iron Lady", in which Meryl Streep brilliantly portrayed the decline in 2011. "I would have liked the film to have been made later," said Thatcher's successor in office, David Cameron. What was meant was: after her death.

Now this death has occurred. Controversial, adored, hated - it will be many years before the British judge Margaret Thatcher with cooler heads. (Sebastian Borger from London, DER STANDARD, 8.4.2013)