Polarising opinion to the end

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SOUTHSIDE Conservatives paid tribute to the UK’s first female prime minister Margaret Thatcher, who died of a stroke on Monday aged 87.

Scottish Conservative deputy leader Jackson Carlaw MSP met lady Thatcher in Eastwood in 1991, and again in 2009 when the local Tory group hosted a dinner to celebrate the 30th anniversary of her election as prime minister.

Mr Carlaw described his experience as “genuinely thrilling”.

He told The Extra: “I will never forget standing in front of the Grand Hotel in 1984 and being inspired as she strode onto the conference platform just hours after the IRA bomb, her strength of character steeling the resolve of representatives and journalists alike.

“Margaret Thatcher was, with Churchill, the greatest prime minister of the last century.”

Allan Stewart was MP for Eastwood between 1979 and 1997. He described serving during the entire duration of Margaret Thatcher’s term of office as a “huge privilege”.

Mr Stewart said: “She was a magnificent leader: clear-sighted and determined. For a period I was a junior minister, but it is as a constituency MP I remember her best.

“I went to see her about a factory closure in Barrhead. She was fully briefed and could not have been more helpful. She was one of the greatest prime ministers Britain has ever had.”

Despite the tributes, the late prime minister is still seen as a hugely divisive figure — and hundreds gathered in George Square on Monday night to celebrate her death.

A Glasgow city council spokesman said: “We became aware of plans for an event circulating on social media, and about 250 people gathered in the square outside the city chambers by early Monday evening.

“Regardless of whether or not it’s appropriate to have a party to celebrate someone dying, this event was organised without involvement or consent from the council.”

The crowd dispersed by around 10pm without incident.

Reactions on The Extra’s Facebook page, meanwhile, were mixed.

Follower Amanda Hemphill said: “I am sure she has a strong enough spirit.

“It did not bother her what people said about her in life and I am sure it won’t bother her now. RIP.”

However, southsider Claire Haigh added that she felt “nothing”.

She commented: “I am not elated over it but she ruined many people’s lives. She is still affecting lives now because of privatisation and decimating the trade unions.”