Comment: Apt finale for Margaret Thatcher

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For women, she changed politics – whether we agreed with her or not. Perhaps more than any other single event, her election convinced me I could have whatever career I wanted.

Now, despite being part of a generation of Scots that grew to distrust everything Margaret Thatcher’s Conservatives stood for, I applaud the decision to accord her a ceremonial funeral with military honours.

Granted, it was possibly an easier decision for a government led by David Cameron than it would have been for Gordon Brown’s. But surely the outcome would have been the same.

As a country, we should honour and respect those who make a significant contribution to our history, regardless of our own politics. There will be many over the next few days who will disagree. They will point to the Falklands War, the miners’ strike or poll tax. Similarly, there will be those who say she should have been given the same full state funeral accorded to Churchill.

Certainly, I can think of no other political figure in my lifetime, perhaps in our history, who has so polarised opinions.

Many Twitter and Facebook comments on her death emphasise that the passage of time has done little to take the edge off the bitterness some people feel. But, in the final analysis, none of us can deny Margaret Thatcher’s contribution to the shape of modern Britain was huge.

The Britain I remember at the end of the 1970s was a grim, forbidding place in industrial decline and torn apart by disputes.

As a naive, idealistic, working-class teenager in 1979, I had hoped this first woman in Downing Street would change things. By the time she left in 1990, I was married with a mortgage, a career and a political conviction very different from hers. But Britain was different too. It was more confident, more prosperous and less conflicted.

More than 30 years after Margaret Thatcher’s historic arrival in Downing Street, I started work there as a Liberal Democrat special adviser, and the fact that I was a woman now completely unremarkable in that address was surely partly due to the Iron Lady herself.