Meryl Streep calls Margaret Thatcher a ‘figure of awe’ and a ‘pioneer’

Streep portrayed the controversial Prime Minister in 2011's 'The Iron Lady'

Meryl Streep has paid tribute to Margaret Thatcher, who died at the age of 87 yesterday (April 8) after suffering a stroke.

Streep portrayed the controversial Prime Minister in 2011’s The Iron Lady, winning an Oscar for her performance as a once imperious political leader who succumbs to dementia in her old age.

In a 300-word written statement, Streep branded Margaret Thatcher “a pioneer, willingly or unwillingly, for the role of women in politics”. She also hailed her journey from greengrocer’s daughter to national leader, writing: “To me she was a figure of awe for her personal strength and grit. To have come up, legitimately, through the ranks of the British political system, class bound and gender phobic as it was, in the time that she did and the way that she did, was a formidable achievement.”

The actress went on to praise Thatcher’s strength of conviction, adding: “To have withstood the special hatred and ridicule, unprecedented in my opinion, leveled in our time at a public figure who was not a mass murderer; and to have managed to keep her convictions attached to fervent ideals and ideas – wrongheaded or misguided as we might see them now – without corruption – I see that as evidence of some kind of greatness, worthy for the argument of history to settle.”

Streep concluded her statement by writing: “I was honoured to try to imagine her late-life journey, after power; but I have only a glancing understanding of what her many struggles were, and how she managed to sail through to the other side. I wish to convey my respectful condolences to her family and many friends.”

Reactions to Thatcher’s death from the music world yesterday were generally less complimentary. Meanwhile, a Facebook campaign has been set up to get ‘Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead’ from The Wizard Of Oz to Number One on Sunday. At the time of writing, July Garland’s version is up to Number 19 on the iTunes chart.