I noticed that there was a considerable difference yesterday between the reporting of her death by the national media (sober, respectful, endless), and the reaction of my twitter stream. I suppose it is an indication of the people I follow, but all afternoon there was a party atmosphere, a sort of spirited glee: Ding Dong, said Twitter, the Witch is Dead.
I have found it difficult over the years to explain to my students just why Thatcher was hated quite as much as she was by so many people. From abroad she appeared to be a moderniser and a pretty ballsy customer – both of which are true so far as they go. But it is fair to say that she also changed both the tone and approach of government in the course of her ten-year reign, creating a fair amount of havoc in the process: it is a commonplace that she flourished on division rather than consensus, and while searching out division in your political opponents is sensible, habitually searching out and exploiting the fault-lines of your society is pathological.
Many parts of the country never really recovered from the structural ‘reforms’ (or more accurately fist-fights) which she entered into. Perhaps it is fair to say that she didn’t so much govern a nation as manage a bottom line: cut and cut deep where you can and don’t wait for stragglers. She was not only impatient, efficient and ruthless; she was by common agreement a bit crazy, a bit dangerous, a bit of a fundamentalist; or perhaps, more charitably, she came in short order to believe her own publicity: the Iron Lady, the Lady-not-for-turning, Hammer of the Falklands, divider-and-ruler.
So she is gone but unlikely to be forgotten. I gather she will not be lying in state. Probably just as well.