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CONNECT THE WORLD
Special Edition: Margaret Thatcher Dies At 87
Aired April 8, 2013 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Female, prime minister: Margaret Thatcher was a force in UK politics and beyond. Loved and loathed in equal measure. Tonight, how she polarized opinion.
Live from London with reaction from Washington, Moscow, and Buenos Aires, this is a special edition of Connect the World.
Well, tough, unapologetic, a tireless defender of capitalism and conservative ideals, Margaret Thatcher is being remembered today for her lasting imprint on Britain and indeed on the world.
Flags, flying at half mast over Buckingham palace and British government buildings in an official show of mourning. The former prime minister died this morning at the age of 87 after suffering a stroke.
Well, Thatcher all received a ceremonial funeral with full military honors, the same type of ceremony given to Diana, Princess of Wales.
Her 11 years as prime minister were deeply polarizing, but everyone can agree that she was a political giant.
Prime Minister David Cameron says Thatcher, and I quote, "made Britain stand tall once again."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID CAMERON, PRIME MINISTER OF BRITAIN: We can't deny that Margaret Thatcher divided opinion. For many of us, she was and is an inspiration. For others, she's a force to be defined against. But if there is one thing that cuts through all of this, one thing that runs through everything that she did, it was her lion-hearted love of this country. She was the patriot prime minister. And she fought for Britain's interests every step of the way."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Well, we are covering all angles, as you would imagine here on CNN, of Margaret Thatcher's extraordinary life and controversial legacy, including Richard Quest who is at 10 Downing Street this evening, Fred Pleitgen is outside Thatcher's home in Central London. Later in the show we're going to go to Moscow and Washington for reaction.
First, though, a look back at Thatcher's divisive legacy. Dan Rivers explains how she became a hero to many, but was reviled by her critics.
DAN RIVERS, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is how many will remember Margaret Thatcher, the "Iron Lady." As the U.K.'s first female party leader and prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, was one of the dominant figures of the 20th Century, a politician who helped to mold parties other than her own.
From a modest background as a grocer's daughter, she became immortalized in stone. She was easy to caricature, hated by some, revered by others. She did win three elections in a row. Before Thatcher, under a labor government came the widespread strikes of the winter of discontent.
BERNARD INGHAM, MARGARET THATCHER'S PRESS SECRETARY: Many people in Britain in 1979 felt this country was probably ungovernable. They doubted whether Margaret Thatcher could govern it. Indeed, I suspect there were a lot of people who felt she might make it worse.
RIVERS: But she faced up to union leaders like Arthur Skargill and his minors.
PETER OBORNE, COMMENTATOR: She came on and through sheer force of will, she changed the economic and political changes of such moments that we are still feeling their effects today 25 years on.
RIVERS: Public housing was sold to tenants. State industries were privatized. Thatcher sought to create a nation of capitalist. The relentless drive left an imprint not just on her own conservatives, but on all of Britain's parties, forcing Tony Blair's new Labour Party to tack right to become electable. She was unchanging when accused of lacking compassion.
MARGARET THATCHER, FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I will not change just to court popularity.
RIVERS: Thatcher restored Britain's clout in world affairs making a pal of her ideological soul mate Ronald Reagan, and insisting Mikhail Gorbachev was a man with whom the west could do business. But if she relished the wide international scene, she never much cared to see Britain getting closer to Europe.
THATCHER: We have not successfully rolled back the frontiers of the state in Britain only to see them re-imposed at the European level.
RIVERS: She was told it was impossible to win a reduction in Britain's contribution to the European common market finances. She handbag her fellow European leaders medical they gave her a rebate. She famously insisted on fighting a military campaign 8,000 miles from home to win back the Falkland Islands invaded by Argentina, a conflict which cost 250 British lives, but which cemented her reputation.
THATCHER: No longer the set man of Europe...
RIVERS: She never cracked the problems of Northern Ireland, although, again, she showed courage when the IRA blew up the conservative's conference hotel. In the end her strident style and the casualty ray rate in her cabinets left her short of friends when it mattered.
Trouble came with her plans for local council finances. A flat rate tax that would have forced a duke and a Dutchmen to pay the same provoked riots in the streets. Her colleagues were alarmed too by the growing vehemence of her euro skepticism.
THATCHER: He wanted the commission to be the executive, and he wanted the council of ministers to be the Senate. No. No. No.
RIVERS: In 1990, her own MP's began to doubt she could lead them to another victory. She was challenged for the party leadership and withdrew from the contest. Mortally wounded after her cabinet advised her it was all over.
THATCHER: We're very happy that we leave United Kingdom in a very, very much better state than when we came here 11-1/2 years ago.
RIVERS: As her car left Downing Street for the last time, she wept, but it wasn't long before she became Baroness Thatcher serving in Britain's upper chamber, the House of Lords.
Though this was the end of her time as a frontline politician, her influence and opinion still counted for years. Her appearance became rarer as her health deteriorated. She was too frail to attend the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, but she did manage to get back to that famous doorstep one last time.
Margaret Thatcher's place in history is assured. She was granted the rare privilege of having her statue placed here at Westminster opposite that of Winston Churchill while she was still alive. But she was a divisive figure for many in Britain, symbolizing the politics of the 1980s whose influence will be felt for many more decades to come.
Dan Rivers, CNN, London.
ANDERSON: Well, the British parliament is currently in recess, but will come back early on Wednesday to pay tribute to baroness Thatcher.
Let's go now to Richard Quest outside 10 Downing Street. And the report there by Dan suggesting that whatever people think of Thatcher, her place in history has been cemented.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And not only in the United Kingdom where there was such economic change that she brought about from privatization to a share owning democracy, the list goes on and on, but internationally, too, with the geopolitical alliances that she forged, that extremely strong personal, some would say, intimate relationship that she had politically with Ronald Reagan and then with Mikhail Gorbachev in the Soviet Union.
And Becky, standing here tonight in Downing Street just remembering all the events that took place during the 11:30 years that where Margaret Thatcher lived and worked behind me and this was where she went in with those famous words of St. Francis of Assisi. And when she left saying that the work had been done.
Today, the tributes in Britain have been mostly favorable, laudatory almost. For example, this from Boris Johnson, the mayor of London.
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BORIS JOHNSON, MAYOR OF LONDON: I think this country has just lost its greatest prime minister since Winston Churchill. And Margaret Thatcher was a revolutionary and she was a liberator. She freed millions of people to buy their own homes, to buy shares in British companies. And yet sometimes the things that she said were tough, but I think when you look back she was overwhelmingly right in her judgment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: And here, one of the thoughts here, the battles that she fought against Europe, those battles are still being fought today. In many ways the arguments haven't changed -- what role should Europe have and where should Britain stand within it?
So when we -- when Margaret Thatcher left office in 1992 we knew that she was going to be divisive. We knew that her legacy was always going to be difficult. And most important of all, Becky, the arguments have not changed since then. Some hate her, some love her.
ANDERSON: All right, Richard, you and I are going to speak later on this hour. For the time being outside Downing Street, we thank you very much indeed.
Flowers and cards piling up on the doorstep of Thatcher's home in London. Frederik Pleitgen joins us now from there with more -- Fred.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Becky.
And one thing that you certainly won't find here at Margaret Thatcher's house is indifference. As Richard just said, she may have been a divisive figure, but certainly one that pretty much everyone here in this country respects. And as you said, people have been coming here all throughout the day laying down flowers, laying down wreaths and also laying down letters. And some of the things that you read in those letters are very interesting.
We found letters that have said that Margaret Thatcher essentially saved this country. Also those who are saying thank you Margaret Thatcher for making Great Britain great again.
But again, of course she was a very divisive figure as well. One of the things that we found in front of her doorstep and that we actually video of was a bottle of milk. Now milk, of course, is something that symbolizes the fact that Margaret Thatcher as health secretary in the 1970s got rid of school milk here in this country, earning her the nickname Thatcher the Milk Snatcher, though I have been told by someone who is well informed that not all students didn't like that, apparently the milk that you got here in the summers was quite warm and so not everybody was too unhappy about that.
But certainly she is someone who was divisive, but on the other hand also formed the political identity especially of a lot of conservatives here in this country. I was able to speak to one earlier, her name is Elizabeth Truss. She's a member of parliament. And here's what she had to say.
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ELIZABETH TRUSS, BRITISH PARLIAMENT MEMBER: I grew up in the -- I was five when she was elected. I grew up in the 1980s. She really was a tremendous figure in British politics at the time. And I think a lot of young people who grew up, a lot of -- I entered parliament in the 2010 intake, a lot of new MPs, she is a major inspiration for us absolutely.
PLEITGEN: Major inspiration, of course at the same time she was somewhat of a divisive figure in her time, not so much obviously after she retired. How do you think people in this country, generally, will...
TRUSS: Well, I think people recognize that it was a difficult job she had to do. She had to turn around the British economy. She had to make Britain self-confident again and successful again, and that is a difficult job that requires a lot of reform. It requires taking on a lot of opponents. And I think she did do that. She won three general elections. She has massive popular support behind her.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PLEITGEN: So Becky, there are those who saw Margaret Thatcher as a political idol, and there are those who disagreed with Margaret Thatcher, but certainly on both sides of the aisle, the word that you will hear most often when she is described is respect -- Becky.
ANDERSON: And a character.
Fred, thank you for that.
President Obama said that America had, and I quote, "lost a true friend." He added, "the Baroness Thatcher stands as an example to our daughters that there is no glass ceiling that can't be shattered." He also said, "many of us will never forget her standing shoulder to shoulder with President Reagan, reminding the world that we are not simply carried along by the currents of history, we can shape them with moral conviction, unyielding courage and iron will."
Much more coming up on the death of Margaret Thatcher. I'm going to speak with her former correspondent secretary about her life and her legacy.
Well, Margaret Thatcher, a controversial figure in British politics. We look at why she was loved and loathed. All that and much more as this special edition of Connect the World continues. Do stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN MAJOR, FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: That she had a mission and she wasn't going to be put off that mission. She was almost precisely the right prime minister at the right time. She was equipped for controversy. She liked argument. She was someone who fixed her mind on a particular objective and then wouldn't be pushed off that objective. And that was very necessary for the UK in the 1980s.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: The former British prime minister, a man who took over from Margaret Thatcher in 1990. You are watching CNN and this special edition of Connect the World with me, Becky Anderson.
Well, few politicians divided opinion as much as Margaret Thatcher, perhaps not just in the UK, but around the world. Her combative spirit was the key to both her political strength and her unpopularity in some corners of this country.
ANDERSON: She did defiance.
THATCHER: The lady is not returning.
ANDERSON: She did direct.
THATCHER: No. No. No.
ANDERSON: And when she chose, was femininity alongside the steel.
THATCHER: Where there is doubt, may we bring faith. And where there is despair, may we bring hope.
ANDERSON: Her longest serving cabinet member remembers it this way.
GEOFFREY HOWE, FORMER BRITISH CHANCELLOR AND FOREIGN SECRETARY: Her style was essentially a determination not to be driven off course. Her phraseology, there is no alternative, the lady is not returning, demonstrated a clear determination to see tough policies through.
ANDERSON: Margaret Thatcher grew up here in Grantham, a solid, uncomplicated English market town. And the values that she learned here shaped her entire political ideology. Her father, a pillar of the community, ran a corner shop.
Margaret Roberts, as she was born, lived with her parents and sister above the family grocery shop. She had the honor of serving as her school representative, or head girl, in her final year before she went up to Oxford where she studied chemistry.
But it was her father who was her biggest influence. It was he who impressed upon her the wrongs, as he saw it, of living beyond your means, a lesson she took to heart.
THATCHER: One of the most immoral things you can do is to pose as the moral politician demanding more for health, for education, more for industry, more for housing, more for everything and then when you see the bill say no, no, I didn't mean you to pay tax to pay for it, I meant you to borrow more.
SUSIE WALLINGTON, GRANTHAM CONSERVATIVE WOMEN'S ORGANISATION: I think she was the woman for the moment. We'd had the winter of discontent. We'd had wild cat strike (ph). We really needed a strong leader, and that's what we got.
THATCHER: For today's conservative ladies of Grantham, Margaret Thatcher is a source of great pride.
JILL BARRY, GRANTHAM CONSERVATIVE WOMEN'S ORGANISATION: She had such a wonderful code for life. You know, you've got certain rules and regulations and a way you conduct yourself, manners, this sort of thing. She was an -- a great icon of those things.
ANDERSON: While her record will likely remain contested, as it surely does for all major political figures, her passion for office and conviction in what she believed was never in any doubt.
THATCHER: There are those who say our nation no longer has the stomach for the fight, I think I know our people. And I know they do.
ANDERSON: We do.
Matthew Parris is a journalist and former Conservative Party politician. He was also Margaret Thatcher's correspondence secretary. And he joins me now -- that must be fun, reading the letters and writing them for her.
Who was she?
MATTHEW PARRIS, JOURNALIST AND FORMER POLITICIAN: There are two Margaret Thatchers, Margaret Thatcher pre-becoming leader of the Conservative Party -- a quiet, studious girl, daughter of a grocer, a Mother Beatrice whom nobody seems to remember anything about. And even at university no one remembers much about her. Studied chemistry, wasn't particularly good at it, wasn't particularly good at law.
Suddenly she's prime minister and this dominatrix suddenly emerges on the world scene and no one can quite explain it.
ANDERSON: Can you give it a go, at least?
PARRIS: I loved working for her. I worked for her when she was leader of the opposition. And to work for somebody who is so sure that she's right, so sure of her moral direction, so absolutely certain of where she should take the country and the party is enormously inspiring.
ANDERSON: There was no triangulation as far as she was concerned, which was a sort of political ideology that came afterwards with Bill Clinton and Tony Blair. When she left Downing Street in 1990 she said she'd left the country in a better state than she found it in 1979. Was she right?
PARRIS: Well, I have no doubts about that at all. And you know, you said she divides opinion in Britain, and of course she does, but the minority that will never be reconciled to her are a smaller and smaller minority. And as for the rest of the world, well you can't expect them to like her in Argentina very much, but generally speaking she bestrides her reputation, bestrides the globe.
We were heading absolutely nowhere in the 1970s. We'd had strikes all the time. The trade unions seemed to be in control of the country. Everybody knew that someone had to stand up for things. And she was the first person to do it.
ANDERSON: Is there a politician in the UK today who in any way personifies the strength of sort of sense and determination. I'm not saying that they are -- have a similar political ideology, but are similar characters.
Nor would you want such a politician, because she was a warrior. We were in a sort of economic war, and a war with the trade unions. And we needed a warrior. And of course we were in a war with Argentina for a little while.
You don't need a warrior now.
It was so easy in a way in Margaret Thatcher's day, there was an obvious enemy. There was an obvious task to restore the British economy. It's so much more complicated now. We need diplomats now.
ANDERSON: Briefly you're in charge of her correspondence, is there anything you want to share with us about what might have been written in the past?
PARRIS: Somebody wrote to her asking if she would abolish the clothed shop, which was a terrible arrangement in Britain where if you didn't join the trade union you couldn't take the job. I got a complicated draft from our technical people, you know, why we can't do this, we can't do that. I showed it to her. She put one line straight through it. She used to work in a blue, felt tip pen. And she wrote, I hate the closed shop. And underlined the word hate three times. That was her style. And she abolished it.
ANDERSON: Matthew Parris, always a pleasure. Thank you.
Live from London, this is Connect the World. Coming up, remembering the UK's first female prime minister, how Margaret Thatcher broke the British unions and polarized the country.
ANDERSON: You're watching a special edition of Connect the World live from London. I'm Becky Anderson. A look at some of the other stories that we are following for you this hour.
And the latest sign of deteriorating relations between North and South Korea. North Korea says it's withdrawing all of its workers from the joint Kaesong industrial complex and plans to temporarily shut down the facility. Well, the complex is a special economic zone just inside North Korea where more than 100 southern firms employ workers from the North.
In Syria, at least 15 people have been killed and more than 40 injured after a car bomb ripped through central Damascus. The bomb exploded in one of the city's largest public squares, one that's surrounded by a number of state buildings, including the country's central bank.
CNN's Nick Paton-Walsh has more.
NICK PATON-WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The blast hit an area known as Seven Fountain Square to the east of the center of Damascus. eyewitnesses describing how it seemed to cause the ground to shake under their feet. 15 people killed according to state media, and perhaps as many as 100 injured in this blast which seems to have hit civilians and also been near the central bank of the capital. Near also an area where there's been much rebel activity known as Jobar (ph). But again, a reminder to people living in the capital how those secure central areas really aren't safe from the violence engulfing the country.
But this very much case as a distraction on a day in which the regime wanted to tout its successes in the east, west, and the northern city of Aleppo where it says it's retaken a village key to advancing towards the international airport there, but also a big claim by the regime that it's moving in on a vital suburb of Damascus to the east known as Eastern Guttar (ph), and that's been a rebel stronghold for quite some time now.
But aside from this violence, a remarkable number emerging from the United Nations who today emerged and said the number of refugees around Syria has now reached 1.3 million. Now that is staggering, because just 32 days ago, we crossed the 1 million mark. That means they've risen by 30 percent in just one month.
UN predictions for reaching 2 million potentially by the middle of this year seemingly on track.
Nick Paton-Walsh, CNN, Beirut.
ANDERSON: Well, the latest world news headlines are just ahead as you would imagine here on CNN.
Plus, Margaret Thatcher's special relationship with her political soul mate. We are live to the United States for reaction to news of her passing.
ANDERSON: You're watching a special edition of Connect the world.
The top stories this hour. Mourners are leaving flowers and notes at the home of Margaret Thatcher. The former British Prime Minister died today at age 87 after suffering a stroke. She'll be given a ceremonial funeral, one step below a state funeral, at St. Paul's Cathedral in London in the coming days.
North Korea now says it plans to pull its workers from the Kaesong industrial complex it jointly operates with South Korea and it will suspend operations there. Pyongyang has already barred South Korean workers from entering the site.
There's been no claim of responsibility for a deadly car bombing in Damascus. At least 15 people were killed and dozens more injured when the explosion ripped through an area near a large public square. Now, that square is surrounded by state buildings, including the Central Bank of Syria.
United Airlines has told CNN that the 787 Dreamliner will resume commercial flights next month. The Boeing jet has been grounded since January because of problems with its lithium battery system. The Federal Aviation Authority has yet to certify the redesigned battery.
There will be full military honors at the funeral of Margaret Thatcher, the former British minister who died after a stroke at the age of 87. There have been political tributes and personal ones, too. Bunches of flowers and private messages have been left outside her London home.
But that's not where Baroness Thatcher is said to have spent her final days. A British government source said that she passed away at the Ritz hotel, which is not very far away from her home.
Margaret Thatcher left her mark not only on Britain, but on countless other countries, in particular, the United States. She and Ronald Reagan were kindred political spirits of sorts. The two met in 1975 when she was opposition leader in parliament and he was governor of California, you'll remember. She was the first foreign leader to visit Reagan after his inauguration in 1981.
They both believed in free trade, in deregulation, and in lower taxes, and were united in their stand against the Soviet Union and Communism. They disagreed on a few issues, including Britain's refusal to negotiate with Argentina during the Falklands War, and the US invasion of Grenada. But they did remain friends, and in 2004, Mrs. Thatcher delivered a eulogy at Mr. Reagan's state funeral.
Let's get more reaction from the United States. We can speak to CNN's former White House correspondent and Washington, DC bureau chief Frank Sesno. And you will remember well those journeys to the States that Margaret Thatcher made.
When you talk to people here, Frank, now, they say that special relationship has never been as special as it was in the 1980s between Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. Why do you think that was?
FRANK SESNO, FORMER CNN WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: I think that was because they align so on the few core issues that defined them both. Margaret Thatcher went first, and I was there. I was covering -- I was based in London, actually, starting in 1979. So, shortly after she became prime minister.
And she came in with an agenda that was very similar, as it turned out, to Reagan's. Smaller government, less of a government role in the role of a welfare state. She had that and he had is welfare queens.
A much tougher attitude toward the Soviet Union, a stronger military, and a very assertive, conservative voice and personality. They were both very charismatic conservatives behind all of that.
If you recall, Margaret Thatcher did not think the world of Ronald Reagan when he was first elected. There were a number of people, and she was among them, who sort of looked down their noses at his level of understanding of international relations, and in particular deficit spending.
She was a real hawk on that, and it started with a little tension, especially at that first summit that they -- where they gathered.
But over time, the relationship really settled into a -- I think soulmate leaders on the core issues, where they stood.
ANDERSON: Frank, we've as you've been talking showing some images of you interviewing Baroness Thatcher in 1993 --
ANDERSON: We talked to a lot of journalists here --
SESNO: Twenty years ago.
ANDERSON: -- about how she deal with them here in the -- well, absolutely. And you get a sort of mixed reaction as to how she dealt with journalists here. She could be pretty dismissive at times. How did you find her as a politician and as a woman when you interviewed her 20 years ago?
SESNO: Well, Margaret Thatcher, whether she was in an interview like this, which we did when she came to the United States for a Conservative Political Action Committee Speech that she was giving, where she was featured and she was the hero, right?
Or whether it was the quick photo ops that we did at G8 summits or at bi -- the summits that she did with Ronald Reagan. She could be so dismissive of a question if she didn't like it. I've never encountered anybody like that, where if she just didn't like your question, well, clearly you don't know what you're talking about. And she would put the questioner down.
And so you had to be very well-prepared, you had to be prepared to stand your ground as an interviewer, and if you were going to press Margaret Thatcher, you had better know what you were talking about, or she'd take you to pieces, just as she did her political adversaries and, at times, her political allies.
ANDERSON: Frank, you know, I don't think any of us any harm. Well done, standing your ground. I've seen that interview before and it was certainly an insightful one. Frank Sesno joining us here on CNN.
Well, "America has lost one of her staunchest allies we have ever know," a quote, the words of former US president George H.W. Bush. He says he and his wife Barbara are, and I quote, "deeply saddened by the death of Margaret Thatcher."
Bush adds, "Margaret was, to be sure, one of the 20th centuries fiercest advocates of freedom and free markets, a leader of rare character who carried high the banner of her convictions."
And this from his son, George W. Bush, and I quote, "Laura and I join the people of Great Britain in remember the life and leadership of this strong woman and friend."
Well, Margaret Thatcher was known the world over as the Iron Lady, but that nickname didn't come from inside Britain. For more, let's speak to CNN's Phil Black in Moscow. And just as there had been an Iron Curtain for so long, separating the West from Russia, so the Iron Lady came along and pretty much pulled it down, as it were. How is she remembered, Phil?
PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A lot of grudging respect here, Becky, I think. When Margaret Thatcher first met Mikhail Gorbachev, it was just before he became Soviet leader, she said, famously, "I like Mr. Gorbachev. We can do business together." And they did. Together, they helped redraw much of the world as it was then.
She later wrote that she was impressed by his style, and what that said about the substance of his personality. It was a glowing, extraordinary positive first impression, and it was one that went on to very much change the dynamic between Western countries and the Soviet Union and is considered by some as something of a historical trigger for much of what followed.
Talks, disarmament, the easing of tensions, the lifting of the Iron Curtain and, ultimately, the end of the Cold War.
Now, Mikhail Gorbachev admits that his own health has been declining in recent years, but today when he heard about what he described as the "sad news" of Margaret Thatcher's death, he released a statement in which he said, in part, "Our first meeting in 1984 marked the beginning of a relationship that was at times difficult, not always smooth, but on both sides, serious and responsible.
"At the end, we were able to reach an understanding, and it was a contribution to the change in atmosphere between our country and the West and to the end of the Cold War. Margaret Thatcher was a great politician and a bright person."
Now, many of Russia's current generation of political leaders believe Gorbachev, Thatcher, and others bear responsibility for the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, an event that many believe, including the country's current president, Vladimir Putin, was a terrible event in Russia's history.
Despite that, Vladimir Putin spoke of Margaret Thatcher with admiration. He said he knew her personally, he said she always made a very strong impression on him. And he said -- he described her as pragmatic, tough, and consistent. Becky?
ANDERSON: Phil Black in Moscow for you. Live from London, you're watching a special edition of CONNECT THE WORLD. Still to come, I'll speak to Falklands War veteran Simon Weston about the Iron Lady's divisive legacy. That after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GERRY ADAMS, PRESIDENT, SINN FEIN (via telephone): She didn't contribute anything positively to the future of the people of this island, unionist and the rest of us alike or, indeed, I would say to working class people in Britain.
Her legacy is a legacy of Thatcherism, I think is, across those communities in Britain, but her legacy here, I believe, to walk right in the street and see places where people were killed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: The voice of Northern Ireland Sinn Fei president Gerry Adams, speaking to me earlier about he -- how he will remember Margaret Thatcher.
Across the Atlantic in South America, Britain's Iron Lady will be remembered by many for the Falklands War, of course. The controversial 1982 conflict remains a source of dispute even to this day between the UK and Argentina. CNN's Brian Byrnes reports from Buenos Aires.
BRIAN BYRNES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These are some of the men who went to battle for Argentina in 1982 when the Argentine military invaded the British-ruled Falkland Islands. Veteran Eduardo Zabala says that Margaret Thatcher is not a hero, but a tyrant.
"For her to have ordered the sinking of a ship that was outside the exclusion zone? Well, I don't think she'll be going to Heaven or to Hell, because I'm not sure that she is even human," he says.
When Argentina attacked, Thatcher decided to fight, sending warships and troops to the South Atlantic to defend the islands, which have been a British territory since 1833, but for which Argentina has long claimed sovereignty.
During the 74-day war, some 900 British and Argentine soldiers died before Argentine forces surrendered on June 14, 1982. The invasion was the Argentine military's last-ditch effort to retain power during an era when they killed as many as 30,000 suspected dissidents known as the Disappeared.
Argentines have always been taught that Las Islas Malvinas, as they are known in Spanish, were theirs and military leaders bet that nationalism would garner them support.
ROBERT COX, JOURNALIST: You know, the Argentine people were completely duped.
BYRNES: British journalist Robert Cox is the former editor of the English language "Buenos Aires Herald." He says once Argentines realized that teenage soldiers were being sent to fight without proper training or provisions, they turned against the junta leaders and begrudgingly accepted Thatcher's determination.
COX: I've heard Argentines jokingly say we should put up a monument to her because if it wasn't for her, the military would still be in power.
BYRNES (on camera): The Argentines did not build a monument to Margaret Thatcher, but they did build this one for the 649 Argentine soldiers lost in battle. Shortly after the war ended, the Argentine military fell and democracy returned in 1983. That same year, Mrs. Thatcher used the so-called Falklands factor to win a landslide reelection.
BYRNES (voice-over): Still, resentment runs deep here, and many Argentines feel contempt for the Iron Lady.
JORGE CASTRO, POLITICAL ANALYST: They hate her. But they never speak against her personal flaws. To the contrary, she was admired. Disliked, but admired.
BYRNES: Today, Argentina and Britain continue their diplomatic bickering over the islands. Buenos Aires still claims sovereignty while London says as long as the island's 3,000 residents want to remain British, they will.
Recent revelations about possible oil reserves in the area have raised the stakes of the debate even more. But for these ex-soldiers who are protesting for veteran benefits from the Argentine government, the long, ongoing dispute needs to come to an end.
TULIO FRABOSCHI, ARGENTINE MILITARY VETERAN: It's a diplomatic solution, not military, not civilian. It's -- the states must be in contact and resolve this problem. It's the only way to be in peace.
BYRNES: A peace Margaret Thatcher was willing to go to war for to achieve.
Brian Byrnes, CNN, Buenos Aires.
ANDERSON: Joining me now is Simon -- Sir Simon Weston, a Falklands veteran who suffered sever burn injuries during that conflict. It's always a pleasure to have you on. You lost a lot of men in that war, you were extremely badly injured yourself. How do you feel about a war that -- it's so much a part of Thatcher's legacy?
SIMON WESTON, FALKLANDS WAR VETERAN: It was about freedom, it was about people's right to self-determination, democracy, all of the things that seemed to be reneged on and denied so many times in South America.
We fought to free people from an invasion. The Argentinian claim to the islands, it doesn't exist. The reality, the honesty of it all just doesn't exist. So, Mrs. Thatcher was right to send us down there.
ANDERSON: As somebody who was working for the British forces and putting your life in harm's way, how much of an influence does the leader of the country have on you as a serving soldier?
WESTON: Not a huge amount. It's more to do with the leadership that we have to follow and listen to. She says go, then they do all the technical bits. They do all the direction, if you like.
For Mrs. Thatcher, she had to have the courage and the conviction, but she also had to tell people what we could have, and she cannibalized the whole British armed forces. Because we didn't have much then, as we don't today. But she gave us everything that we could get our hands on, and she made it possible for us to be able to go there and be a threat.
It was by luck and lot of judgment as well, but a lot of luck. And had it not been for the Americans and their involvement, we would have never been able to have fulfilled the task.
ANDERSON: Simon, no regrets?
WESTON: None whatsoever. I wouldn't change my life in a heartbeat. The fact was, I wanted to be a soldier, I enjoyed being a soldier. I went down there to do a job. I was paid to do a job, I wasn't paid for my opinion. My opinion would come later on. Everybody had one. But at least we went there knowing what we were doing was right.
And the fact is, Mrs. Thatcher, well, she's loathed by some, she's revered by some, she was feared by a lot, but wherever you went, she was always respected. I just feel so proud to have served under her and to have been led by such a ferocious warrior like her.
ANDERSON: And over the years, it's been such a pleasure speaking with you. And again, this evening, thank you. Simon Weston for you.
Coming up after this short break on this special edition of CONNECT THE WORLD, the economic policies that split Britain down the middle and the woman who pushed them through no matter how unpopular. The decisions that defined Margaret Thatcher's leadership.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM HAGUE, BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: I think her legacy is that she did give hope to people in this country that they could have faith in Britain, because she had an implacable faith in Britain, that if people could be freed to use their ingenuity, this country could overcome any difficulty.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: He would say that, wouldn't he? He went on to be a leader of the Conservative Party. Margaret Thatcher transformed the British economy, breaking the trade unions and offloading nationalized industries. Her approach was both lauded and loathed.
Richard Quest is with me here at Westminster. You and I have been talking all day. I don't know if you've come to a conclusion about how you sort of round off how we might see Margaret Thatcher. I don't know if I have.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Fundamental change that had to be taken at a time in history. And that's how it will be looked at in this country by, I think, the consensus.
Just go through the things she did. She privatized all those nationalized industries. She sold off the council houses to people. She enabled people to sort of buy their own homes. And she created an environment where people believed that work paid.
Now, the opposite side: closed huge industries, unemployment -- you see, even now, you and I are going backwards and forwards at exactly what that legacy was.
ANDERSON: Yes. No, no, you're absolutely right. I think something that not a lot of people have talked about, very briefly, was her allowing for the opening up of the city, the city of London, the Big Bang, as it was known, in 1987.
I think if I were to look at the legacies and say had they been any good for the next 20 years, that worked until -- what? -- the last four or five years when it all sort of fell apart. But I think you would be wrong to say that not everything she did back in 1979 and through hasn't made a difference --
QUEST: It's made a huge --
ANDERSON: -- to the way we live now.
QUEST: -- huge difference. A fundamental difference. A fundamental difference on health care in this country, on education, just simply on the concept of a share-owning or a capitalist society, which is followed by Labour.
Remember, the core point here, Becky, is not what Thatcher did, but that it has never been reversed by and large.
ANDERSON: And interestingly, Tony Blair even, in his --
ANDERSON: -- statement today said -- and you'd expect him to say, "Not somebody I would have agreed with all along the way, but certainly there were policies that she enacted that we took through following her administration."
QUEST: And if we look at the -- let's look at right up to date. The eurozone crisis. Countries like France, Spain, Italy, are now facing those pension reforms, those industrial reforms, those massive changes in the economy that Britain did and America did in the 1980s. It's taken that long.
ANDERSON: Amazing, isn't it? Why don't people read their history books?
QUEST: We lived it.
ANDERON: We lived it!
QUEST: We lived it! This one we lived!
ANDERSON: We did. And this is --
QUEST: This one we lived.
ANDERSON: -- it's a the thing --
QUEST: That's it.
ANDERSON: -- what's been so interesting for Richard and I today --
QUEST: I remember my university going on strike over Thatcher's economic reforms.
ANDERSON: I remember being outside of Barclays. I'm not sure I ever went on -- did you really go on strike? No. Exactly.
QUEST: It's a long time ago.
ANDERSON: Thank you. Thank you.
QUEST: Long time ago.
ANDERSON: He doesn't remember --
QUEST: I was young and irresponsible.
ANDERSON: As they were. Next up, many of the world's most iconic images of Margaret Thatcher have come from her official photographer Jason Fraser. I caught up with him last year ahead of an exhibition that he was holding here in London where he revealed what Margaret Thatcher was really like.
ANDERSON (voice-over): British photographer Jason Fraser is better known for Princess Diana and for capturing this, the first picture in 20 years of Carlos the Jackal just days before the fugitive's arrest.
But now, it's some of his earliest images that are making headlines. Images of Margaret Thatcher, long lost and intimate. He captured them during six years as her official photographer, a job he was recruited to do aged just 16.
Fraser learned much about the Thatchers traveling with them on official visits and election campaigns. It was at these events he captured images that reveal a very different side to the Iron Lady.
FRASER: And the picture with Margaret Thatcher's fist, which I didn't even realize that I had gotten it, I'd forgotten that I'd taken it, and I rediscovered it about six weeks ago.
And she was waiting. It was the G7 summit, and she was waiting for the French president to walk in. And I looked at her hand, I thought, well, I'll just take a picture of her rings. As I was doing it, I heard footsteps as he was about to come through, and I saw her hand just clenched. And it stayed clenched for about three seconds.
Now, whether or not she knew that I was just taking a picture of her hand and so deliberately did that, I don't know. But I think -- I mean, it just went into a fist. I was standing 15 feet away.
But equally, just before that, there she is, teasing the flowers and making sure that they're OK for Ronald Reagan, who's about to walk into the room.
She was very coquettish around Reagan. She -- when he was due to arrive, she was peaking out of the window behind the curtain and looking for him again. And I photographed her doing that. And when she saw him, she lit up. But it's because they were both, I think, looking like politicians of conviction rather than just policies.
ANDERSON (on camera): What was her relationship with Mitterrand like?
FRASER: Her relationship with Mitterrand was -- it was actually quite good, despite all. She respected him. She -- she played him well. She used all of her feminine guile with him. He admired her. He found her terribly frustrating.
Separately, I was trying -- I traveled with the French president, and he was looking at a newspaper article, and it had Margaret Thatcher in it, and he just said, "Je n'ai pas plus. Je n'ai pas plus. Qu'est-ce qu'on vont faire avec cette femme?" "I can't take it anymore, I've got to give her -- what are we going to do with this woman?"
ANDERSON: This was the French president?
FRASER: And because I'd just been speaking in English, because he didn't assume that I might catch on to what he was saying, I thought wow. And I photographed him once. Just -- he couldn't take it anymore. His hands went up into the air.
And she was sitting there, she was just -- she was relentless. She wore people down, I think, rather than broke them down. She wore the unions down. She did -- it was a long ball game for her.
ANDERSON: Did she have an Achilles heel?
FRASER: Her family. I think. Achilles heel always implies a weakness, a soft spot for something. Her family. The relationship that she had with Dennis was a -- he was a very shrewd man. I can tell you that when she resigned after having won three general elections, the biggest contributing factor was Dennis.
Dennis told her that he did not want to see her being "kicked in" -- those were his words -- anymore. He -- and he told her that he felt that the party was over.
And she -- as I say, she did listen to him. She -- he was absolutely everything to her.
ANDERSON: Jason Fraser, a man who knew Margaret Thatcher better than most. I'm Becky Anderson and that was a special edition of CONNECT THE WORLD from outside the houses of parliament on the day that Margaret Thatcher died at the age of 87. We leave you with the former British prime minister at her most memorable.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARGARET THATCHER, PRIME MINISTER OF BRITAIN: To those waiting with baited breath for their favorite media catch phrase the U-turn, I have only one thing to say: you turn if you want to.
THATCHER: The lady's not for turning.
He wanted the Commission to be the executive and he wanted the Council of Ministers to be the senate. No.
CROWD: Yes! Yes!
THATCHER: No. No.
And we're very happy that we leave the United Kingdom in a very, very much better state than when we came here 11 and a half years ago.