12:31pm Tuesday 9th April 2013
MARGARET THATCHER polarised opinion during her life – and she has done the same since her death was announced yesterday.
Here in the North-East, the reaction has been particularly passionate and it is extraordinary that there are people openly celebrating news that a frail old lady has died after a stroke.
Heather Wood, who marshalled emergency kitchens across County Durham during the miners’ strike, is featured in today’s paper. She has had a bottle of champagne ready to toast Mrs Thatcher’s death since the strike ended. Yesterday, she finally popped the cork.
“God forgive me, but I wanted to jump up and shout ‘Hallelujah’,” she told us.
Astonishingly, Dave Hopper, secretary of the Durham Miners’ Association, added: “It’s a great day… She did more damage to us than Hitler did.”
It is important that our coverage reflects the undeniable hatred there is in the North-East for Mrs Thatcher and to understand why such bitterness runs so deep.
But we must also reflect the love others had for her, the admiration for her achievements as Britain’s first woman prime minister, and appreciate her place in history.
Mr Hopper may consider her to have been more damaging than Hitler, while David Cameron describes her as “a great leader, a great Prime Minister, a great Briton”. They are views which are poles apart but that’s what Margaret Thatcher did – she divided opinion like no other politician. To some a great heroine, to others a wicked witch.
In reporting her death, we have tried to find a balance between the love and the hatred, while respecting the passing of a human life and the grief of a family.
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