London, April 7: Margaret Thatcher, Britain's first woman prime minister who left office undefeated 18 years ago, is still so appealing to people that she may win a general election even today. Well, this is what appears from the results of an opinion poll conducted for The Daily Telegraph. The YouGov survey emphatically confirmed that people were more likely to prefer Thatcher to Tony Blair if they had to choose one of them to lead the country. Conservative leader David Cameron, though far behind the two leaders, was still ahead of Gordon Brown.
About two thirds of Tory voters said that they would prefer Lady Thatcher to the current party leader.The survey's results also suggested that 82-year-old Thatcher is considered to be the country's greatest post-war prime minister, well ahead even of Winston Churchill during his second term in office in the Fifties. It further revealed that people considered Conservative politicians William Hague and Cameron to be leaders who have ideologies similar to those of Thatcher.
However, one third of the people surveyed said that none of the current crop of Conservative politicians could fill Thatcher's shoes. Being the first woman to become prime minister is what most people felt was Thatcher's greatest attainment, reports the Telegraph.
Her greatest failure, said 45 per cent of the people surveyed, was her decision to introduce the Poll Tax in 1990 that precipitated her downfall. The return of mass unemployment in the mid-1980s after the painful restructuring of British industry and "undermining the idea of public service" were also regarded as serious failures. One in five felt that Thatcher had divided the nation, and presided over an era of "greed".
However, the poll also showed that the Thatcherite legacy continued to shape Britain long after she had left office, shifting the political axis from state-centred collectivism to private enterprise and the free market and forcing Labour to abandon old-style socialism.
The poll suggested that support for Lady Thatcher was almost evenly split among the sexes, and especially strong among people aged over 50, who will have the strongest memories of her time in power.