Margaret Thatcher was without a doubt one of the most divisive figures in British politics, and much has already been made of this fact in the media coverage following the news of her passing this morning. Nonetheless, whatever one may or may not think of her politics, she was and will forever remain one of the most influential figures in 20th century history - both here in Britain, and beyond.
The extraordinary story of a shopkeeper's daughter from Grantham who became the world's first female leader of a major power is indeed worthy of the many re-tellings it has already, and will in future endure. But what I find most inspiring about this remarkable women is not that she became Prime Minister in an era when women were still expected to do no more than keep house and be Mum; but that she then became the towering political figure she did - not remembered so much for her gender in an age of sexism but for the battles she fought, the reforms she drove, the victories won and the defeats lost which together defined Britain and much of the West for over a decade - and whose legacy will be with us for far longer than even she may have imagined.
Unfortunately this has had the effect of dehumanising this exceptional person - so much is her legacy and with such vigour she pursued her agenda that supporters and detractors alike speak of her in terms more appropriate for angels and demons than mere mortals such as ourselves. The thing to remember about any politician, whether liberal or conservative, local Councillor or Prime Minister, is that they are all, essentially, only human. Complete with all the frailties and imperfections we each share.
Sometimes it is convenient for us to forget this fact, especially when impassioned, whether vengeful or effusive. But on this sad day, when a family has lost a loved one, a nation a leader, and the world a historical giant; I want to focus on Lady Thatcher's humanity.
The list of things her Governments were responsible for with which I profoundly and radically disagree is almost longer than there are words to enumerate it. But I respect a person who looks at the world, sees things they think unjust, and desires to change them. I respect all the more a person who then devotes their life to securing that change. And I cannot but admire a person who then does so by overcoming the many and various obstacles society has deemed to place in her path at every step of the way.
Margaret Thatcher was an astonishing person, but a person nonetheless. Someone deserving of dignity and respect on that basis alone, and in virtue of her personal accomplishments and historical achievements, perhaps worthy of a whole lot more besides. I hope that instead of focusing on a dichotomy of Thatcher-lovers vs. Thatcher-haters this nation can transcend these differences in perspective; appreciating a women who embodied our universal but all too infrequently noticed ability to shape the world around us according to our own freely-conceived conception of justice.