A view from the Bridge

EVEN in death the Iron Lady continues to divide the nation.

Margaret Thatcher’s passing this week was marked in political circles in Scotland with respectful tributes while at the same time many made reference to her most-hated policies.

A crowd of more than 300 gathered in the centre of Glasgow to toast her death at the scene of protests in 1989 at the introduction of the poll tax north of the border.

Loved, loathed but never ignored, the former Prime Minister had an impact on all of our lives and the argument still rages over the quality of that legacy.

Her supporters believe she put the “great” back into Great Britain, while opponents regarded her as something of a hate-figure whose rigid belief was “my way, or no way.”

In Scotland, Mrs Thatcher is credited with triggering the demise of the Tories and at the same time unwittingly paving the way for devolution and the pro-independence movement. Conservatives north of the border are still feeling the effects of her policies to this day.

She thought she knew the Scots but industrial decline and mounting redundancies turned her into what many regarded as a she-devil. The final straw came in 1989 when she used Scotland as a test bed for the hated poll tax, or community charge as it was officially known.

It was a system of local government to replace the rates. But the imposition of a flat-rate charge for every payer, regardless of income, was condemned by all opposition parties and the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

The measure prompted a campaign of non-payment and at the same time brought about the rise of a certain Tommy Sheridan.

It was only repealed a year later after riots in London - but by then it was too late. The Conservatives came to be despised in Scotland and the party was virually wiped out at subsequent elections.

Her famous “the lady’s not for turning” speech at a party conference in 1980, came to define her, however it was Mrs Thatcher’s forthright, uncompromising nature that had propelled her through so much, which ultimately led to her downfall by alienating has colleagues,

Ill health in recent years kept her out of the public eye, but the impact of her legacy – politically, economically and socially – is still being felt today.

In other news this week, Scotland’s ski resorts are enjoying a bumper season which could last into the summer.

One centre is optimistic it will still be welcoming skiers in June.

Quite a turn-around for an industry which just a few years ago was facing terminal decline due to mild, wet winters.

All that has changed and more than 250,000 winter sports enthusiasts are reported to have visited the five ski centres since the beginning of December.

Personally, I would prefer to see the back of the white stuff and the relentless freezing temperatures. This winter seems to be never-ending - perhaps it’s an age thing - and I’m dreading the fuel bill for this quarter, and I’m sure many people are in the same boat. So come on, let’s have a taste of spring!