Thatcher was Conservative prime minister from 1979 to 1990 (Reuters)
Thatcher was Conservative prime minister from 1979 to 1990 (Reuters)

Following the news of Margaret Thatcher's death at the age of 87, the reaction to the former prime minister exploded across news websites and social media.

On one hand, we had Prime Minister David Cameron saying she should be remembered as the "greatest British peacetime prime minister". There was deputy leader Nick Clegg describing her as one of the "defining figures in modern British politics".

Across the Atlantic, US president Barack Obama added that the world had "lost one of the great champions of freedom and liberty, and America has lost a true friend".

Before her death, A YouGov poll in 2011 revealed that 27 percent of Britons thought she was the greatest prime minister since the end of World War II.

But not everyone agrees with that finding. The website isthatcherdeadyet.co.uk which raced towards more than 175,000 likes when the page finally changed to the one-word answer 'yes'.

There was an immediate launching of e-petitions demanding that the funeral of Britain's first female prime minister is not state funded. It was later confirmed that the service would be a ceremonial funeral with military honours. 

Among other less than respectful responses was a Facebook campaign to take Judy Garland's song Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead to No 1 in the charts. And the list of negatives goes on, highlighting how divisive a figure Thatcher was.

There was even an announcement that the Premier League will not ask teams to hold a minute's silence for Britain's longest-serving prime minister of the 20th century. 

"Let us not kid ourselves, she was a very divisive figure," said Bernard Ingham, her press secretary during her entire three terms

Hillsborough cover-up

While there are a great number of people cheering and a great number mourning the death of Thatcher, one area where the 87-year-old will be the focus of contempt is in much of Liverpool.

Campaigners for the 1989 Hillsborough disaster have often spoken about their belief that she had a key role in the cover-up by South Yorkshire Police.

Chair of the Hillsborough Family Support Group Margaret Aspinall told the Liverpool Echo: "I have no feelings towards her either way.

"That's not be being vindictive but we know she had sly meetings the evening of the disaster and the morning after at the ground and that is when the cover-up started."

Shelia Coleman, spokesperson for the Hillsborough Justice Campaign, had previously told IB Times UK: "It's always been our argument that it [the cover-up] was payback time, Margaret Thatcher's way of thanking South Yorkshire Police for how they managed the miners' strike."

A second group synonymous with hatred of Thatcher are the former mining communities across large parts of the country. The 1984-85 miners' strike was arguably the most confrontational and divisive moment of her entire leadership and certainly changed the course of industrial relations in Britain.

Union leader Doug Nicholls, who was active during the strike, said: "Thatcher I will always associate with the de-industrialisation of Britain.

"And it's not so much her union-busting that she should be remembered for, but her busting of what goes to make a national economy: industry, public services, collective bargaining, respected trade unions and nationalised utilities."

Whatever people's views of Thatcher, it is clear that the Iron Lady is a woman who continues to divide opinion in death as much as she did in life.  

READ:
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