World leaders like Obama paid tribute to Margaret Thatcher on Monday, reminding us that "she stands as an example to our daughters that there is no glass ceiling that can't be shattered." Streep said her subject had been a pioneer – "willingly or unwillingly" – for the role of women in politics, allowing females from across the globe to dare to dream of leadership. Thatcher expressed her resolve in her own pugnacious parlance, "We must show men that we’re better than they are."
With such provocative conviction, she must have garnered her share of detractors. And they did not mask their vitriol. In the London neighbourhood of Brixton, people toasted her passing by drinking and dancing to hip-hop and reggae songs blaring from boom boxes. "I'm very, very pleased. She did so much damage to this country," volunteered one. In Scotland's biggest city of Glasgow, some shouted, "Maggie, Maggie, Maggie" as the crowd responded, "dead, dead, dead". Socialist Angela McCormick explains: "I'm here for a generation that didn't have a future when they left school and didn't have jobs. I'm here for the members of my family who have been devastated by the economic policies or the economic crimes of Margaret Thatcher." The hero of the Falklands War was also labelled "extraordinary but heartless", accused of festering inequality through a "culture of greed". In defence of her intolerance and imperium, apologists claim it is impossible to achieve change without anguish.
Thatcher was not the only politician who insisted that she did not care about her poll ratings, pointing always instead to her unbeaten election record. “I have never been over concerned or obsessed with opinion polls or popularity polls,” Lee Kuan Yew once said, echoing a sentiment that he has conveyed throughout his career. “I think a leader who is, is a weak leader.”
Lee’s policies have elicited great criticism over the decades. While some may hail him as a visionary, others denounce him as authoritarian, fascist, or worse. Let's take a leaf from the Guardian report on the polarisation about Thatcher's demise: "How should we honour her? Let's privatize her funeral. Put it out to competitive tender and accept the cheapest bid. It's what she would have wanted."