The extent to which the late Baroness Thatcher’s policies continue to divide opinion in Britain is laid bare in the latest polling from Kantar Public.
Asked whether they agreed or disagreed that “Britain needs a Prime Minister like Margaret Thatcher to lead us to economic growth”, two in five of 1200 adults agree, more than half of whom agree strongly, while 33% disagree, nearly three quarters of them doing so strongly.
Asked whether the Iron Lady had a good or bad effect on Britain, 41% say good and 34% bad – the majority of those saying bad opt for “very bad”.
Men, those not working and older people are more likely to agree than women on both questions – that Mrs Thatcher had a good impact on the country and that the country needs another PM like her.
As might be expected opinion is sharply divided between north and south – only 18% in Scotland agree that the country needs a Prime Minister like Mrs Thatcher and 51% say she had a bad effect on the country. People in the north of England are unfavourable to Mrs Thatcher on both questions, while those in London, the Midlands and the south are more inclined to favour her.
Even among Labour voters, 19% agree that the country needs a PM like Mrs Thatcher, while almost half of Liberal Democrat voters also agree, as do 85% of Conservative voters.
Of the policies and actions most closely associated with Mrs Thatcher, 28% say that opposing the trade unions was the one that had the biggest impact on Britain, followed by privatisation (27%), being the first female PM (12%), and the Falklands War and increasing home ownership (both 10%).
Among those aged 16 to 24 – who were not alive during Mrs Thatcher’s battles with the unions or the Falklands War – privatisation is seen as having had the biggest impact (27%) followed by being the first female PM (17%).
Adults in the north and Labour voters also see privatisation as having a bigger impact than opposing the unions.
Asked to name the post-war Prime Minister who has been best for Britain, 23% choose Mrs Thatcher, ahead of Sir Winston Churchill (17%) and Tony Blair (11%). However, the wartime leader is strongly ahead of the Iron Lady among the 16-24s, by 20% to 7%, with Blair on 12%. Those in lower social grades are also more likely to favour Churchill.
There is general agreement that Mrs Thatcher’s time as Prime Minister has made it easier for other women to get into positions of political power – 47% agree against 17% disagreeing. Even among Labour supporters more agree with this statement than disagree (39% compared with 28%).
Notes to editors
TNS Omnibus interviewed 1201 people between 9th and 11th April, 2013.
The data is weighted to match population totals for sex, age, region, household size and education.
About Kantar Public
Kantar Public is a leading provider of specialist social research, offering insight into public policy to government and not-for-profit clients. Delivering a range of approaches including bespoke proprietary research and consultancy, random probability survey capabilities, as well as social marketing and polling, our work informs policy makers across national and local Government at the highest level. Kantar Public forms part of the Kantar group of companies. For more information please visit us on our website www.tns-bmrb.co.uk/.
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