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Mixed responses to Margaret Thatcher's death

By Ryan Donnelly     Apr 8, 2013 in Politics
Following the news of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's death, there has been an outpouring of both support and criticism highlighting the Iron Lady's controversial legacy.
Earlier this morning it was reported by various sources that Margaret Thatcher had suffered a stroke and died while staying at the Ritz Hotel in London. Many of the world's foremost leaders were quick to issue statements memorializing the first female Prime Minister of Britain. US President Barack Obama released a statement saying that "The world has lost one of the great champions of freedom and liberty, and America has lost a true friend." British Prime Minister David Cameron quickly followed saying in an interview that Thatcher would go down as the greatest peacetime Prime Minister in British history.
Obama and Cameron were joined in their praise of the Iron Lady by former USSR leader and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Mikhail Gorbachev, as well as Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu; both of whom praised Thatcher's historic role in Britain and her statesmanship. As MacLean's reports Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper stated that Thatcher, along with Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II, was one of the three major figures to bring an end to the Cold War. Harper went on to say that “The era of peace and prosperity that followed the end of the Cold War must therefore rank as one of her great and lasting gifts to this generation.”
However, not every political leader had similar praises to give to Thatcher. Condolences and criticism were mixed in the responses coming out of South Africa. As the Guardian notes the former apartheid-era President of South Africa, FW De Klerk, hailed Thatcher as one of Britain's greatest Prime Ministers. The current ANC government of South Africa remembers Thatcher in a different way. During her time in office Thatcher was was a staunch ally of the apartheid government, consistently referring to the ANC, and their leader Nelson Mandela, as terrorists . As one report notes, though the ruling South African party offered condolences to Thatcher's family and the British people, they also said "The ANC was on the receiving end of her policy in terms of refusing to recognize the ANC as the representatives of South Africans and her failure to isolate apartheid after it had been described as a crime against humanity,"
Also quick to criticize the former PM was perhaps Thatcher's most famous nemesis, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams. Adams, who acted as the public face of the Irish Republican Army for more than three decades, called Thatcher's policies towards Ireland a "total and absolute failure". Invoking memories of her hardline stance during the prison hunger strikes of 1981, which saw the death of IRA member Bobby Sands, Adams said that "Her espousal of old draconian militaristic policies prolonged the war and caused great suffering".
The reaction to Thatcher's death coming from people around the world has been just as divisive as the reactions of political leaders. In the Huffington Post's discussion of the responses to the news, the site pointed out that the Daily Telegraph had closed the comment section of its report of her death following abusive statements made by commentators. Conservative supporters and many liberals are calling for respect on the day of Thatcher's death as the words 'no state funeral' began to trend on twitter and the facebook page entitled 'Is Margaret Thatcher Dead Yet?' saw a massive increase in traffic. The varied responses on the day of her death highlight Thatcher's controversial and historical tenure as the Prime Minister of Britain.
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