Having read through the above, I was amazed by some of the comments and had to ask myself, where some of the contributors were during the "Thatcher Years". Sapper gave an extremely accurate picture of what state Britain was in immediately prior to the election in 1979.
Facts are that she was right for her time and still remains Britains longest serving prime minister, so the british electorate must have thought she wasn't doing too badly. Very little, in terms of principle or practice, of what her government introduced has been reversed and many countries within Europe subsequently adopted similar policies.
The Thatcher era, internationally, saw the downfall of Soviet Russia and an end to the cold war. The United States of America had two strong and determined Presidents during this period and in Thatcher they had an ally on whom they could depend. From the Soviet perspective they saw leaders of the UK and USA who possessed determination and will power in spades.
As a leader, when required to take tough decisions, she did so without stint or compromise and in doing so exercised a great deal of integrity. You also have to remember what the alternative would have been - Neil Kinnock!! Who has subsequently moved onwards and upwards (financially) to become one of Europe's Commissioners (A body comprising the unelected/unelectable members of european political parties)who tell the EU what to do and when to do it.
Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister throughout a period of remarkable change. Judging by the current state of the UK, I do not believe she did so badly and would not be at all surprised to hear of her being described in the future as one of Great Britain's most effective Prime Ministers.