On Thatcher

Karl Miller

Margaret Thatcher is the third most written about person in the ‘LRB’ archive, after Shakespeare and Freud. Here Karl Miller’s memories of the paper in her day are accompanied by extracts from some of the pieces published at the time.

On the morning Margaret Thatcher’s death was announced, the lesser lights of television who were minding the shop did her proud. A river of bittersweet hyperbole flowed by, as the BBC declared its love. Westminster sympathisers were heard to say that the warrior queen was the country’s greatest peacetime prime minister, if not the best of all. She was to receive a funeral of the sort that buried the Queen Mother, and had wished for no grander ceremonial display. Night then fell, and with the screening of Channel 4 News and Newsnight a sense of proportion was restored, and it was once again possible to believe that, like many successful politicians, she was bad as well as good. Soon afterwards Northern cities were ‘rejoicing’ at her departure. Chalked up on a wall in Derry is the possibly ambivalent ‘Iron Lady, rust in peace.’

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