Opening Act: Margaret Thatcher, 1925-2013

Weigel
Reporting on Politics and Policy.
April 8 2013 8:32 AM

Opening Act: Margaret Thatcher, 1925-2013

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A man poses with a bottle of cava and a sign displaying the message 'Thatcher is Dead' as other members of the public gather in George Square to mark the death of Baroness Margaret Thatcher on April 8, 2013 in Glasgow, Scotland.

Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Margaret Thatcher has died of a stroke at age 87, after nearly a decade of quiet withdrawal from public life and speaking. I'd expect a gulf of difference between American coverage, in which Thatcher will be remembered as a glass ceiling-shattering pal of Ronald Reagan; and British coverage, which will reflect how hated Thatcher was by her political foes. This is a real tweet from George Galloway, the former Labour MP who keeps winning by-elections as an anti-war third party candidate.

Screen shot 2013-04-08 at 8.25.13 AM

It's a reference to a song by Elvis Costello about how wonderful Thatcher's death would be. When Ronald Reagan died, American politics and memory had already sanctified him; many people flying into Washington for the funeral arrived at Ronald Reagan National Airport. The debate over Thatcher's legacy of privatization looks, from the American perspective, to be pretty well over and won. But we've never had a national health service and we broke the power of our unions 60-odd years ago, and only briefly did we have as high a top tax rate as the U.K. in 1979, so the comparison's never going to make sense here. At some point today I expect there'll be a statement from a former Alaska governor about how much Thatcher meant, but we can probably ignore that.

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Correction, April 8, 2013: This post originally misspelled Roger Ebert's first name.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

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