Remembering Margaret Thatcher

04.08.13

What They’re Saying About Margaret Thatcher

Mikhail Gorbachev, Meryl Streep, and more bold-faced names react to the passing of an icon.

Former President of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev:

Margaret Thatcher was a big political figure and a bright person. She will remain in our memory and in history.

Thatcher was a politician whose word had considerable weight. Our first meeting in 1984 was the beginning of relations, which were difficult at times, not always smooth, but serious and responsible on both sides.

Personal relations formed gradually and became more and more friendly. Eventually, we managed to reach mutual understanding and it was a contribution to changing the atmosphere between our country and the West and to ending the cold war.

The news of Margaret Thatcher’s death is a sad thing. I knew she was seriously ill, last time we saw each other was several years ago. My sincere condolences to her relatives and loved ones.


Actress Meryl Streep, who won an Oscar for playing Thatcher in the movie The Iron Lady:

Margaret Thatcher was a pioneer, willingly or unwillingly, for the role of women in politics. It is hard to imagine a part of our current history that has not been affected by measures she put forward in the U.K. at the end of the 20th century. Her hard-nosed fiscal measures took a toll on the poor, and her hands-off approach to financial regulation led to great wealth for others. There is an argument that her steadfast, almost emotional loyalty to the pound sterling has helped the U.K. weather the storms of European monetary uncertainty.

But to me she was a figure of awe for her personal strength and grit. To have come up, legitimately, through the ranks of the British political system, class-bound and gender phobic as it was, in the time that she did and the way that she did, was a formidable achievement. To have won it, not because she inherited position as the daughter of a great man, or the widow of an important man, but by dint of her own striving. To have withstood the special hatred and ridicule, unprecedented in my opinion, leveled in our time at a public figure who was not a mass murderer; and to have managed to keep her convictions attached to fervent ideals and ideas—wrongheaded or misguided as we might see them now—without corruption. I see that as evidence of some kind of greatness, worthy for the argument of history to settle. To have given women and girls around the world reason to supplant fantasies of being princesses with a different dream: the real-life option of leading their nation; this was groundbreaking and admirable.

I was honored to try to imagine her late life journey, after power; but I have only a glancing understanding of what her many struggles were, and how she managed to sail through to the other side. I wish to convey my respectful condolences to her family and many friends.


Former United States Secretary of State Henry Kissinger:

She was a leader of strong convictions, great leadership abilities and extraordinary personality. She was a woman who [knew that] a leader needed to have strong convictions because the public had no way of orienting itself unless its leadership, its leaders gave it the real push. She didn’t think it was her job to find the middle ground.


Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice

I am deeply saddened by the news of the passing of Baroness Thatcher. There was no more potent force in the defense of freedom than this remarkable woman. Her unshakable belief in the universal appeal of liberty helped to steer the free world through treacherous times until communism was defeated and Europe emerged whole, free and a peace. I was honored to know her and to be inspired by her. Baroness Thatcher will be missed but generations will draw strength from the memory of her passion for freedom.


U.S. President Barack Obama:

With the passing of Baroness Margaret Thatcher, the world has lost one of the great champions of freedom and liberty, and America has lost a true friend. As a grocer’s daughter who rose to become Britain’s first female prime minister, she stands as an example to our daughters that there is no glass ceiling that can’t be shattered. As prime minister, she helped restore the confidence and pride that has always been the hallmark of Britain at its best. And as an unapologetic supporter of our transatlantic alliance, she knew that with strength and resolve we could win the Cold War and extend freedom’s promise.

Here in America, many of us will never forget her standing shoulder to shoulder with President Reagan, reminding the world that we are not simply carried along by the currents of history—we can shape them with moral conviction, unyielding courage and iron will. Michelle and I send our thoughts to the Thatcher family and all the British people as we carry on the work to which she dedicated her life—free peoples standing together, determined to write our own destiny.


Former U.S. President George W. Bush:

Laura and I are saddened by the death of Baroness Margaret Thatcher. She was an inspirational leader who stood on principle and guided her nation with confidence and clarity. “Prime Minister Thatcher is a great example of strength and character, and a great ally who strengthened the special relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States. Laura and I join the people of Great Britain in remembering the life and leadership of this strong woman and friend.


Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair:

Margaret Thatcher was a towering political figure. Very few leaders get to change not only the political landscape of their country but of the world.

Margaret was such a leader. Her global impact was vast. And some of the changes she made in Britain were, in certain respects at least, retained by the 1997 Labour government, and came to be implemented by governments around the world.

As a person she was kind and generous spirited and was always immensely supportive to me as prime minister although we came from opposite sides of politics.

Even if you disagreed with her as I did on certain issues and occasionally strongly, you could not disrespect her character or her contribution to Britain’s national life. She will be sadly missed.


Current British Prime Minister David Cameron:

It was with great sadness that I learned of Lady Thatcher’s death. We’ve lost a great leader, a great Prime Minister and a great Briton.


Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown:

Sarah and I have sent messages to Lady Thatcher’s son Mark daughter Carol, offering our condolences to them and to the Thatcher family and commemorating Lady Thatcher’s decades of service to our country.

She will also be remembered not only for being Britain’s first female prime minister and holding the office for 11 years, but also for the determination and resilience with which she carried out all her duties throughout her public life. Even those who disagreed with her never doubted the strength of her convictions and her unwavering belief in Britain’s destiny in the world.

During our time in Number 10, Sarah and I invited Lady Thatcher to revisit Downing Street and Chequers – something which we know she enjoyed very much. But it was sad for her and her family that she lost her devoted husband Denis almost 10 years ago and that she was unable to enjoy good health in the later years of her retirement.’


Britain's Labour Party leader Ed Miliband:

I send my deep condolences to Lady Thatcher’s family, in particular Mark and Carol Thatcher. She will be remembered as a unique figure. She reshaped the politics of a whole generation. She was Britain’s first woman prime minister. She moved the center ground of British politics and was a huge figure on the world stage.

The Labour party disagreed with much of what she did and she will always remain a controversial figure. But we can disagree and also greatly respect her political achievements and her personal strength.

She also defined the politics of the 1980s. David Cameron, Nick Clegg and I all grew up in a politics shaped by Lady Thatcher. We took different paths but with her as the crucial figure of that era.

She coped with her final, difficult years with dignity and courage. Critics and supporters will remember her in her prime.