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Margaret Thatcher: Legacies, Loathing and Unanswered Questions

09/04/2013 11:00 BST | Updated 08/06/2013 10:12 BST

As news of Thatcher's death broke, politicians of all sides scrambled to pay tribute to her contributions and character. Rather more people on Twitter were quick to highlight her character flaws and long-term negative impacts of her politics.

Her most vociferous critics did not speak on the news, although comedian Alexei Sayle managed to tell Channel 4: "I think of her as the first modern personality disorder politician" as former MP Louise Mensch glared from the New York studio.

When broadcasting his own comment Ed Miliband was asked about her being a "hate figure" but he avoided being overtly critical, saying "now is the time to show respect." This was an interesting way of putting it as in the months and years ahead Thatcher's legacy will be dissected in a less than respectful way.

For the last few years it has been hard to criticise and impossible to interview Thatcher due to her frailty. The aggressive force of nature who tore at British industries and communities like a ravenous hawk has not been herself for some time. Holed up in The Ritz in recent months and dependent on carers, she might not have remembered the finer details of her career. There are also many younger voters who don't remember her brutal attacks on unions, industries, arts, education and dissent.

Thatcher's attacks on unionised industries devastated vibrant communities. The impact is still being felt, with high levels of unemployment and drug abuse. Her cull of manufacturing, mining, steelworks and shipbuilding led to the current unsustainable situation where our core industry is finance, with volatile banks run by questionable people. Thatcher accused unions of holding Britain to ransom. With hindsight, workers asking for a better standard of living seems reasonable compared the riches bankers plundered from taxpayers.

With hindsight many things look wrong about Thatcher's time in power and ideologies - many of which still dominate political discourse. For the coming days those criticising her will be shouted down by shrill devotees. However, these may not be able to preserve her mythologised image for long - not least because of serious unanswered questions about paedophilia involving those close to her.

It is well-known that Thatcher was good friends with Jimmy Savile, who spent Christmas with her throughout her years in power. Allegations against him have been traced back to the 1950s and there were many police reports about Savile abusing children from before Thatcher gained power.

One would hope that Special Branch and MI5 knew about allegations against Savile, who visited Number 10 more often than world leaders. However, we do not know what Thatcher knew about Savile - if anything. It may well be she was simply a bad judge of character and that he exploited this. Perhaps Thatcher can be excused for - like many people - not seeing through the creepy veneer of Savile to the creepy paedophile below. There are, however, further unresolved questions about her administration and paedophilia.

Last October, as the UK was reeling from allegations against Savile, MP Tom Watson dropped a bombshell in Prime Minister's Questions. Mr Watson's question concerned social care expert Peter Righton, who was convicted in 1992 of importing child porn. When Righton's house was raided, correspondence was found between him and numerous other paedophiles. Watson suggests links between one of these and a senior Thatcher aide.

He told Parliament: "The evidence file - used to convict paedophile Peter Righton - if it still exists, contains clear intelligence of a widespread paedophile ring. One of its members boasts of his links to a senior aide of a former Prime Minister, who says he could smuggle indecent images of children from abroad. The leads were not followed up, but if the files still exist, I want to ensure that the Metropolitan Police secure the evidence, re-examine it, and investigate clear intelligence suggesting a powerful paedophile network linked to Parliament and Number 10."

For most of the years after Righton was convicted Thatcher was as sharp as a razor. As her admirers look back on her career with misty eyes it is critical that questions about what she knew about paedophiles are not forgotten.