Lord Hunt of Wirral, a minister under Baroness Thatcher, criticised those who had attacked the former prime minister following her death.
He said she "provided real leadership at a difficult time", adding that she restored Britain's reputation in the world.
Lord Hunt added: "Her strength, determination and resolve were outstanding. I was privileged to work in her team for 14 years and proud to have served in her Cabinet.
"In public life there is so often a gulf of difference between the public figure and the private person. Margaret's public image generally reflected the difficult times in which she lived and the tough decisions she had to take.
"If only more people had known what a kind and compassionate person Margaret Thatcher really was, then all the comments being made now, on all sides, might also have had a gentler, more reflective and more appropriate quality to them."
Campaigner Peter Tatchell has said that former prime minister Margaret Thatcher was, "extraordinary for mostly the wrong reasons."
Margaret Thatcher was an extraordinary woman but she was extraordinary for mostly the wrong reasons. So many of her policies were wrong and heartless. Nevertheless, I don’t rejoice in her death. I commiserate, as I do with the death of any person. In contrast, she showed no empathy for the victims of her harsh, ruthless policy decisions.
To her credit, she shattered the sexist glass ceiling in politics and got to the top in a man’s world. However, on becoming Prime Minister she did little for the rights of women. She was a macho, testosterone-fuelled right-wing politician.
– Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner
Her political agenda was almost entirely divisive and destructive, including mass unemployment and urban decay. She emasculated local government and boosted police powers to the detriment of civil liberties. The striking miners and their families were ruthlessly crushed on her orders. She oversaw the use of police state methods. Baton-wielding police struck down peaceful miners. People travelling to support the strikers were pre-emptively arrested. Protesting miners at Orgreave were framed on false police evidence.
The news of the Baroness Thatcher's death has also drawn reactions from some of her critics.
Former London mayor Ken Livingstone told Sky News:
– KEN LIVINGSTONE ON SKY NEWS
She created today's housing crisis, she produced the banking crisis, she created the benefits crisis ... Every real problem we face today is the legacy of the fact she was fundamentally wrong.
Paul Kenny, general secretary of the GMB trade union, said:
– Paul Kenny, general secretary, GMB union
Her legacy involves the destruction of communities, the elevation of personal greed over social values and legitimising the exploitation of the weak by the strong.
Lindsey German, convenor of the Stop The War Coalition, said:
– Lindsey German, Stop The War Coalition
She led alongside Ronald Reagan the escalation of the Cold War. She introduced cruise missiles to Britain and fought the Falklands war.
Her arms deals with Saudi Arabia were notorious. Her legacy was Tony Blair who built enthusiastically on her record.
Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has criticised Lady Thatcher, saying "her Irish policy failed miserably":
Margaret Thatcher did great hurt to the Irish and British people during her time as British Prime Minister.
Working class communities were devastated in Britain because of her policies.
Her role in international affairs was equally belligerent whether in support of the Chilean dictator Pinochet, her opposition to sanctions against apartheid South Africa; and her support for the Khmer Rouge.
Here in Ireland her espousal of old draconian militaristic policies prolonged the war and caused great suffering.
Margaret Thatcher will be especially remembered for her shameful role during the epic hunger strikes of 1980 and ’81.
Her Irish policy failed miserably.
Former London mayor Ken Livingstone has described Margaret Thatcher's policies as "fundamentally wrong".
Of course she was popular, she was offering people their homes at a cut price. But she didn't build any houses.
She created today's housing crisis, she produced the banking crisis, she created the benefits crisis.
It was her government that started putting people on incapacity benefits rather than register them as unemployed because the Britain she inherited was broadly at full employment.
– Ken Livingstone on Sky News
She decided when she wrote off our manufacturing industry that she could live with two or three million unemployed and the legacy of that, the benefits bill that we are still struggling with today.
In actual fact, every real problem we face today is the legacy of the fact she was fundamentally wrong.
Ex Leader of the Liberal Democrats Lord Ashdown has tweeted his response to the news that Margaret Thatcher has died at the age of 87:
If politics is defined as having views, holding to them and driving them through to success, she was undoubtedly the greatest PM of our age.