Margaret Thatcher ‘most popular PM since WW2’

Margaret Thatcher: more popular than Churchill. Picture: AFP
Margaret Thatcher: more popular than Churchill. Picture: AFP
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BARONESS Thatcher is Britain’s most popular prime minister since the Second World War, eclipsing even Sir Winston Churchill, a poll found.

Lady Thatcher, who died on Monday at 87 after a series of strokes, was named as the best of the 13 prime ministers since 1945 by 28 per cent of people, the poll conducted by The Sun said.

The period of Baroness Thatcher’s leadership, from 1979 to 1990, was marked by political, social and economic revolution, changes which divided the country and left her with a legacy of being loved and loathed in almost equal measure.

But the YouGov poll of 1,893 adults declared her the nation’s favourite prime minister. Sir Winston - Britain’s leader during the Second World War and again from 1951 to 1955 - was in second place with 24 per cent of the vote, and Tony Blair in third with 10 per cent.

Lady Thatcher was regarded as a “great” or “good” prime minister by 52 per cent of people, while 30 per cent deemed her “poor” or “terrible”.

Almost half of those polled (48 per cent) felt she left Britain economically better off, while 60 per cent felt she left it more respected in the world.

More than half (51 per cent) believed she created more opportunities for women, but just 36 per cent declared she left society more free, and almost half (49 per cent) said she left a less equal society.

Baroness Thatcher gladly adopted the moniker of the “Iron Lady” and 72 per cent of those polled felt she stuck to what she believed in, with 66 per cent saying she was a strong leader and 59 per cent saying she was a decisive prime minister.

People also voted her being elected as Britain’s first female prime minister as her greatest achievement, followed by winning the Falklands War and defeating the miners’ strike and limiting the power of the unions.

But the introduction of the hated poll tax was deemed her greatest failure, followed by her overseeing of the decline of mining and manufacturing and the privatisation of utilities such as British Telecom and British Gas.

The Sun said its poll found Lady Thatcher had more supporters than detractors across the social classes, age groups and in every region of England and Wales, while only in Scotland did more people think her a bad prime minister than good.

When asked about their overall feelings towards her, 47 per cent of people felt Lady Thatcher’s period as prime minister was good for Britain, and 36 per cent as bad.

Even in death Lady Thatcher divides the nation, with outpourings of both mourning and celebration across Britain.

The Sun’s poll found 50 per cent of people back her being given a full ceremonial funeral at St Paul’s Cathedral next week - the rest disagree or simply do not know what to think.