Tributes have flooded in for Baroness Thatcher, after the former prime minister died aged 87 following a stroke.
Lady Thatcher is to have a funeral at St Paul's Cathedral with full military honours - the same status as accorded to the Queen Mother - in recognition of her huge influence on the country.
The Queen was said to be "sad" at news of the death, while David Cameron praised her as a "great leader" and a "great Briton". For Labour, Ed Miliband said she had "moved the centre ground of British politics", and Tony Blair credited her with changing the world.
"It was with great sadness that l learned of Lady Thatcher’s death. We've lost a great leader, a great Prime Minister and a great Briton"— UK Prime Minister (@Number10gov) April 8, 2013
Global leaders added their voices to the tributes, with Barack Obama saying Lady Thatcher had been a "true friend" to the US.
However, others on the Left condemned the social impacts of her policies encouraging the free market and stripping power from unions. Respect MP George Galloway sparked anger by tweeting "Tramp the dirt down" - a reference to an anti-Thatcher Elvis Costello song from the 1980s.
The former prime minister, who had suffered bouts of illness for many years, was said to have died peacefully.
Her spokesman, Lord Bell, said: “It is with great sadness that Mark and Carol Thatcher announced that their mother, Baroness Thatcher, died peacefully following a stroke this morning.”
Baroness Thatcher was the first woman to hold the post of prime minister when she led the Conservative Party to a general election victory in 1979. She held the post until 1990, winning three consecutive general elections.
She spent the next decade curbing the power of trade unions, signalling the end of an era when trade union leaders trooped in and out of 10 Downing Street, haggling and bargaining with her Labour predecessors.
Instead she stripped the unions of many of their powers, with the aim of transferring them to managements and individual consumers.
She successfully defied Arthur Scargill’s nationwide and year-long miners’ strike, which threatened to cripple Britain’s entire economic base.
And as she transformed the nation – attempting to release the grip of the state on massive industries and public services alike – she became one of the most influential, talked-about, listened-to and dominant leaders of the Western world.
Reaction to the death of Baroness Thatcher:
When Argentina invaded the Falklands, she despatched a task force to the South Atlantic that drove the enemy off the islands in an incomparable military operation 8,000 miles from home.
She has been in fragile health since she suffered a series of minor strokes more than a decade ago.
Baroness Thatcher, born Margaret Roberts, became the Conservative MP for Finchley, north London, in 1959, retiring from the Commons in 1992.
Having been education secretary, she successfully challenged former prime minister Edward Heath for her party’s leadership in 1975.
Many features of the modern globalised economy – monetarism, privatisation, deregulation, small government, lower taxes and free trade – were all promoted as a result of policies she employed to reverse Britain’s economic decline.
Above all, in America and Eastern Europe she was regarded, alongside her friend Ronald Reagan, as one of the two great architects of the West’s victory in the Cold War.
Of modern British prime ministers, only Lady Thatcher’s girlhood hero, Winston Churchill, acquired a higher international reputation.
Lady Thatcher had become increasingly frail in recent years following a series of small strokes in 2001 and 2002. Her daughter Carol also revealed in 2008 that she had been diagnosed with dementia, which had increasingly affected her memory for the last decade.
In recent years she had led a quiet life, cared for by her loyal housekeeper Kate. A minor stroke in 2002 left her with short-term memory loss.
Lady Thatcher was not well enough to join the Queen for a lunch with former and serving prime ministers as part of the Diamond Jubilee this summer. And two years ago she missed an 85th birthday party thrown in her honour by Mr Cameron at 10 Downing Street.
In October she was sufficiently well, however, to mark her 87th birthday with lunch at a restaurant in London’s St James’s district with Mark and his wife. And MPs and friends who saw her regularly said she remained alert and interested in politics. Her state funeral at Westminster Abbey will be the first for a British politician since Churchill’s in 1965.
Express & Star video journalist Nicky Butler asked Wolverhampton residents for their memories of Margaret Thatcher:
Do you have memories of Margaret Thatcher visiting your school or workplace in the Midlands? Get in touch with your thoughts and pictures - firstname.lastname@example.org
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