Dr Roland Quinalt is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of London and author of British Prime Ministers and Democracy, from Disraeli to Blair (2011).
Dr Eliza Filby is a lecturer in Modern British History at King's College, London and author of 'God and Mrs Thatcher: The battle for Britain's soul' due to be published this year.
Baroness Margaret Thatcher's death has laid bare how vividly divided the public feel about her achievements in office, as the furious debate on her legacy continues.
For Dr Eliza Filby, lecturer in Modern British History at King's College, London, history will take a less polarised view of her time in office.
Dr Roland Quinault, Senior Research Fellow at the University of London, says her achievements are being exaggerated by those on the left and right:
That she changed the face of modern Britain ‘irrevocably’ can be in no doubt, Dr Filby argues, particularly the economic landscape:
Yet both historians point out the gaps between her bellicose rhetoric and her actual policies. For Dr Filby, she was a leader full of paradoxes: a Conservative who did little to conserve the values of her party:
For Dr Quinault, her most significant achievement as PM was her contribution to the end of the cold war, through two policies: the firm line she took against the Soviet threat but also her readiness to embrace detente when the opportunity to arose.
The innumerable visual images and sound bites of Thatcher during her time in office captured her determined and uncompromising stance on public occasions but Quinault argues they failed to reflect the more nuanced and sometimes cautious nature of her policies in practice.
It has often been argued her market reforms sowed the seeds of the financial crisis but this is incorrect, according to Dr Filby, who says she has been given an enormous amount of ‘blame’ for the actions of her precedessors:
For Quinault, the Iron Lady’s reputation was built through the media’s reflection of her skills as a speaker. Skills Filby traces back to her father’s role as a Methodist preacher:
The magnificence of her skills as a orator has prevented her legacy being based on an informed assessment of her policies, which Dr Quinault argues are more democratic than their delivery would assume.
For Dr Filby her achievement was to use that temperament to silence critics and bolster supporters, across the House of Commons and on the world stage, boosting the UK’s international reputation considerably throughout her time as leader: