UK Politics

‘My mother would turn off the TV when she was on’

Margaret Thatcher in Downing Street, May 1979
Image caption Margaret Thatcher arrives at 10 Downing Street after her first general election victory in May 1979.

The death of Baroness Thatcher has brought with it divided opinion on the effect she had on people's lives.

Lady Thatcher was both the United Kingdom's first female prime minister and its longest-serving peacetime leader, winning three successive general elections.

She died on Monday, aged 87, after suffering a series of strokes.

Her 11 years in office, from 1979 to 1990, saw both change and conflict - militarily, socially and politically.

BBC News website readers have been sharing their experiences of the Thatcher years. Here is a selection of what they have to say.

Anita Ingham, Higherford, Lancashire

I was born in a Lancashire mill town in 1965, both my parents were weavers and staunch Labour supporters.

I can remember the three-day weeks, the power cuts and the strikes and how both my parents were in support of the worker and in favour of all strike action.

When Mrs T was elected in '79 my mother in particular was appalled, not just because she was Conservative but that she was a woman.

Such was my mother's hatred of her and her policies that she would switch off the TV every time she was on.

My parents had four children and we had always lived in a rented council house.

When I left school at 16 I wanted more out of life than to follow my mother into the mills.

I remember the 1980s as an era of opportunity and prosperity and I was inspired by Mrs T. I believed that anything was possible no matter what your background.

I embarked upon an apprenticeship for a new-start company in 1982 and in 1994 started my own company in the healthcare sector.

My company has been a great success for over 19 years, employing over 150 local employees.

I recently sold it to a large national healthcare provider and believe that without the inspiration of Mrs T and Conservative policies and attitudes to employers I would never have dared to go it alone.

Mrs Thatcher had strength and conviction and she will continue to be my inspiration.

Clive Hudson, Normanton, West Yorkshire

I am not sorry to hear of her death, as she caused me and my family to be destroyed.

In honesty, at the time of the miners' strike in the 1980s I hated Arthur Scargill about as much as I hated Margaret Thatcher.

Image caption Clive Hudson: "I saw families and friends turn on each other because of Margaret Thatcher's ideology"

My younger brother was a miner, and was on strike. I was a mining engineer and wouldn't cross the picket line.

Because of the way the NUM handled the strike my brother received no financial support, despite being married with two children and having a mortgage to pay.

During the year of the strike all he received was a couple of food parcels.

When the South Africans came along offering a mining job he had no choice but to take it.

He left at Christmas 1984 - him, his wife, my niece and nephew. We were all at the airport in tears.

For me, it was devastating that my family was split up. I still haven't seen my nephew since that day. The internet just isn't the same.

During that strike I saw families and friends turn on each other because of Margaret Thatcher's ideology.

My wife was PA to the local chief constable in Huddersfield.

So my colleagues in the mines wouldn't talk to me about what was happening because of her, and the police wouldn't talk to her because of me.

It was a ripple effect that drove a wedge between us and we ended up divorcing.

I saw other people affected in similar ways. Communities that used to help each other disappeared.

I lived near Wakefield. It used to be a massive area for mining - now there's nothing and there are generations of the same families out of work.

I for one will not shed any tears for this woman.

Andy Chadwick, Maidstone, Kent

I served in the army whilst she was prime minister and I was proud to do so.

Image caption Andy Chadwick in the army. "I didn't agree with all her policies but she did what she thought was right."

I joined the army in 1983 at the age of 16 because of the Falkland Islands conflict.

When the invasion happened I had no idea where the Falklands were - I was one of those who thought they were somewhere off the north of Scotland.

But despite the distance and the difficulties Margaret Thatcher didn't roll over. To do what she did was a great achievement.

It showed the world what the British Army could do and it convinced me I wanted to join.

I was stationed in a number of places, but I did a tour of Northern Ireland between 1985 and 1988, and a further two six-month tours in the 1990s.

I came out of Northern Ireland unscathed, although we lost a couple of our guys.

My experience was the majority of people in Northern Ireland wanted us there. We'd be invited into people's houses at obvious risk to themselves, several dusty infantry soldiers all sipping tea from the best china.

I didn't agree with all Margaret Thatcher's policies but she did what she thought was right and battled anyone who stood in her way and turned this country around.

Too many people were holding this country to ransom and it was spiralling out of control.

She was a great woman but foremost, a great leader which we desperately needed and could do with again.

I've been all over the world and seen how other people live and we wouldn't have what we do without her.

Alexander Granat, Vienna

I was born in St Petersburg in the Soviet Union in 1967. Due to my parents, it didn't take long before I understood the cruelty and shortcomings of the Soviet regime.

Image caption Alexander Granat and his mother Sofia:"Life would have been completely different if we'd stayed"

We were desperate to leave but it was impossible to emigrate.

I truly believe that Mr Gorbachev started perestroika not because he suddenly understood that his country and regime were under pressure, but because of the financial and military pressure applied by Ronald Reagan on one side and Margaret Thatcher on the other.

They brought him to understand he had to initiate change to avoid a complete collapse. One of those changes was emigration.

My family was one of the first to take that opportunity and since 1989 I've lived in Vienna.

I am extremely grateful we are here and that my son can grow up in the free world.

Life would have been completely different if we'd stayed.

My mother was ill recently and when she recovered we recalled my grandmother's death in the Soviet Union in the 1980s.

We both believe if my grandmother had been in the West she would have lived longer, and that if my mother had been in the Soviet Union she would have died.

For us, we thank Margaret Thatcher for the freedom of thought, expression, religion and politics that we enjoy every day.