MARGARET Thatcher was loved and hated in equal measure throughout Britain.
As her popularity in Conservative strongholds in the south of England increased with election victories in 1979, 1983 and 1987, in parallel her reputation in Scotland worsened and here she became one of the most despised politicians of the modern age.
There will be no national show of grief, civic sentimentality or spontaneous public floral tributes here for a woman whose very name being mentioned can still get the blood of many a Glaswegian boiling … even more than 20 years after leaving office.
Her premiership saw the decline of heavy industry and factory closures in Glasgow and elsewhere leading to mass unemployment in communities and a spiralling of associated problems such as debt, alcoholism and drug abuse.
Battles with unions, with nurses, teachers and most notably the miners going on strike provided defining social images of the 80s.
In Glasgow the social legacy of her era was economic decline, a cycle of inter-generational unemployment and a right-to-buy housing policy that robbed the social sector of its most desirable homes.
One by one, pits, steelworks, car manufacturing, shipbuilding and heavy engineering plants closed during her time in office, throwing hundreds, even thousands, on the dole at a time.
It is arguable that much of it may have happened anyway with globalisation, but Thatcher’s Tory government offered no resistance.
Unemployment was to her ‘a price worth paying’ to keep inflation down.
The communities that were devastated by the closures were given little or no assistance and many bear the scars to this day.
Wealth was king, privatisation of the national industries was championed as British Telecom, British Gas, British Rail and several others were sold off. Some working class people became small-time shareholders, but more jobs were lost as the ‘family silver’ was sacrificed to pay debt and weaken union influence on key strategic industries.
In the end it was her own party who removed her from office, not the people.
Her tear-stained farewell at Number 10 was a contrast to the ebullient quoting of Francis of Assisi about replacing discord with harmony a the same spot 11 years earlier.
Even after her premiership ended in 1990 her legacy continued, as seven years later not a single Tory MP was elected in Scotland.
Glasgow, once run by a Conservative Council, has only ever had one Tory MSP.
Loyal lieutenants in Scotland however had successful careers and MPs like George Younger, Malcolm Rifkind, Iain Lang and Michael Forsyth, the last Tory Scottish Secretary, went on to be influential in the Conservative Party.
Her own forays north of the border were often met with derision and protests.
In 1988 she was booed when she appeared at the Scottish Cup Final at Hampden.
The Poll Tax, tested in Scotland a year before it was introduced in the rest of Britain, led in part to her downfall and to mass civil disobedience through non- payment campaigns, huge countrywide protests, organised prevention of warrant sales – a familiar sight in Glasgow – and finally riots in Trafalgar Square.
Thatcher was the demon, the bogey woman with no march or protest complete without the most popular chant of the decade: “Maggie, Maggie, Maggie! Out, Out, Out!”
History is often kinder to politicians after they are dead.
In the case of Margaret Thatcher in Scotland, don’t hold your breath.