Keith Humphreys has an interesting post on British ill-will toward Margaret Thatcher:
Thatcher makes an intriguing foil to her contemporary conservative head of state, President Reagan. When the latter was revealed to have Alzheimer’s disease, many people who voted against him voiced sincere sympathy for what he and his family were going through. In contrast, I spend an awful lot of of time in the U.K. and am in touch with people there almost every day, and I have to say that if Ms. Thatcher’s own dementia is generating sympathy in Brits who hated her policies, they are doing a frightfully good job of hiding it. I don’t even hear much sympathy from people who did vote for her. Thatcher seems to be in that small group of politicians who have a strange political legacy: The number of people who today acknowledge voting for them is far fewer than could explain all the elections they won.
I think the real answer here is that not that many people voted for Margaret Thatcher. In 1980, about 51 percent of the public voted for Ronald Reagan in a three-way race against Jimmy Carter and John Anderson. He had a lot of controversial initiatives, and in 1984 he won a resounding re-election with 59 percent of the vote. Thatcher, by contrast, won a three way election in 1979 with 44 percent of the vote. In 1983 her support slipped slightly to more like 43 percent. In 1987 she won again, but her support further dropped to around 42 percent.
There was a similar run under Tony Blair, where he kept securing parliamentary majorities based on electoral minorities. I think there’s a lot to be said for the UK political system and obviously in retrospect the thing to say about the Thatcher years is that had Labour been willing to take the Blairite turn in 1983 they could have won the election in alliance with the Liberals instead of waiting 14 years to do it on their own. But the ability of a prime minister to wield extraordinary power based on a parliamentary majority obtained with an electoral minority seems likely to engender a lot of bitterness.