Members of Parliament in East Sussex today shared their tributes and views on the divisive figure of Margaret Thatcher, the UK’s first woman Prime Minister.
Eastbourne’s Liberal Democrat MP, Stephen Lloyd said: “Lady Thatcher was a remarkable politican in many ways. As Prime Minister she was clear in the vision she wanted for the UK, and was determined to carry it out come what may. This often divided opinion and, to an extent, still does, But no-one can deny she was a towering political figure and her influence still resonates today.”
He added “I offer my condolences to Lady Thatcher’s family at this sad time. I know many people in Eastbourne and Willingdon will feel her passing keenly.”
Lewes’s Lib Dem MP, Norman Baker, said: “There is no doubt Margaret Thatcher was a towering figure who changed this country and to some extent the world during her time as Prime Minister, not least as the first female Prime Minister.
“She showed courage in tackling the excessive and almost lawless union power of 1979, crystallised in the winter of discontent.
“I vividly remember the 20 foot high mountain of rotting garbage piled up in Leicester Square, the cancelled trains, the closed offices.
“It seemed half the country was on strike. She also deserves credit for starting Channel 4 and signing the Anglo-Irish agreement of 1985 in particular.
“However none of this can mask the fact that she was a deeply divisive figure. Her economic policies at the start of the 1980s destroyed about a third of British manufacturing capacity and caused unemployment to soar.
“Her battle with the miners, which may have been justified at the outset, was taken to vindictive lengths and virtually the entire mining capacity of the country was wiped out in just a handful of years.
“And she introduced the poll tax, perhaps the most regressive piece of legislation for over 50 years.
“I respected her but I did not admire her.”
Conservative Charles Hendry, the MP for Wealden, said: “The UK is a much stronger country today, as a result of Margaret Thatcher. She challenged fundamentally the assumption that the UK faced inescapable decline.
She gave millions the opportunity to own their own homes or start their own businesses.
“In my role as a Minister, I went to several countries in the former Soviet bloc who saw her as the champion of their freedom and the most powerful voice for freedom. She changed the UK and helped changed the world, and I mourn her passing.”
Fellow Conservative MP, Heathfield’s Greg Barker, added: “I was deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Margaret Thatcher. Lady Thatcher was the greatest peacetime Prime Minister of modern times.
“Although I was only a schoolboy when our first and, to date, only woman Prime Minister came to power, her sense of mission and personal conviction that Britain was a great country whose decline could be turned around inspired a generation.
“Determined and always robust and, while she had many opponents, I believe she was a giant force for good and history will judge her as such.
“My condolences go to her family at this time.”