The first thing I'd like to say is that I am amazed at the anti-Thatcherism amongst people who were born AFTER 1980. In other words those of 33 years or younger. And even more so people 23 years or younger. I don't know if it's because everyone has been watching "This Is England", or that scenes of the miners striking are cool, or perhaps even because of the whole "socialism/communism/anarchism" phase that every politically minded teenager goes through circa 17 years old (and fortunately 90% soon grow out of!), but it does seem to me that a lot of those dancing in the streets where under the age of 25!
I'm sorry but I cannot view their opinions with the same strength than those who actually remember 1979 and who are thus 40 years old+ (whether they are pro or anti Thatcherism)
For that reason my opinion I don't feel is as valid as someone who actually had the vote in 1979/1983 or 1987! But nevertheless having studied politics I'll give it a go!
I think the greatest thing that Thatcher did was uphold and promote the key belief that naturally, human beings are not equal.
It is common belief that we are all born equal (hence why racism etc is wrong), but that due to varying factors from creativity, intelligence, ingenuity, ability to connect with others, focus, ability to work hard and compete, leadership etc, as adults we soon diverge so that some individuals become better, and thus superior, than others. This leads humans to compete, and thus for humanity and the nation to develop. We were doing it 5000 years ago over food and resources! And we will continue to do it in 5000 years time over food, resources, and, err, electronic gadgets!!
This is something that unfortunately has not been promoted in society (which does exist!) recently. Hard work I feel is increasingly becoming less rewarded, and ideals such as responsibility, competitiveness and "standing on your own two feet" are not being promoted in our schools. Fortunately my parents taught me at an early age that on the whole hard work and developed skills can lead to happiness, wealth, stability and prosperity - but you must be prepared to compete for it!! Because everybody else wants exactly those things too!
It was a belief that my Father shared but unfortunately for him he grew up in 60s working class Liverpool. His Dad died when he was very young which can't have helped matters. My Uncle actually had an interview at Cambridge University in the late 1960s but was rejected because he had a Scouse accent, was a Northerner and didn't have a (wealthy) Father.
I have been told that Mrs Thatcher's policies destroyed the rigid class boundaries - the idea that ANY man born upper class died upper class, and any man born working class died working class. Fortunately with our country's fantastic education system, libraries, and of course access to the internet (Wikipedia anyone?!), anyone who is prepared to put in the hours of study can become great in our now "knowledge-based" economy. It now doesn't matter whether you were born in Brixton, Cornwall, Glasgow or Castleford - you can now compete with the "Home Counties gentry"!
There was even a clip of Alan Sugar on the BBC explaining that Thatcher's policies caused any old geezer who had the intelligence and the 'get up and go' attitude could now make it in the world of business.
There seems to be two types of people that are anti-Thatcher. They seem to be a minority (she did win three elections!). One group is those whose jobs were taken away by her (mines, pits etc). From what I have heard these were no longer economically viable industries (which doesn't surprise me! Europe/Japan/USA are built on pharmaceuticals, banking, technology, highly-skilled engineering, services and law - NOT coal and steel!!).
What I believe she perhaps should have done is take the old industries away with one hand, and attempt to replace with the other hand. From what I've heard most of the "new" wealth and industries that were created ended up in London, whereas I think it would have been better if they were spread out across Cardiff, Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle, Glasgow etc. But that probably would have gone against the free-market.
The second group are simply people who cannot compete. They blame this on "the rich", or "the state", and thus believe in socialism, but the bottom line is that for whatever reason they cannot compete. When aimed at Thatcher I have a sneeking suspicion that a lot of these people are under the age of 25! Their skills, personality or knowledge is just not desirable enough for them to earn a large wage/do the job that will make them happy/become employed. I feel sorry for these people but they cannot blame their circumstances on other people or on the state.
As a whole though, as one nation, it's clear from statistics that we went dangerously close to being a nation of "Tier 2" stagnation, to a nation of "Tier 1" prosperity! And even now in 2013 after Major, Blair, and Brown we are STILL a tier 1 nation. The British people still have the opportunity to live extremely happy and fulfilling lives!
I have always had respect for anyone who manages to get into that elite group of being Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, but...
For promoting and staying true to her beliefs, for firing up the British people and the British engine to compete with each other and with other nations, for believing in pure meritocracy in social and economic settings - I tip my hat off to Mrs Thatcher!