East Sussex MPs share their tributes and views about Margaret Thatcher

Ian Gow MP for Eastbourne with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher MP. Photograph date unknown. Copy put into system April 9th 2013. E15060P ''Image from former T.R. Beckett files held by East Sussex Library Service.
Ian Gow MP for Eastbourne with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher MP. Photograph date unknown. Copy put into system April 9th 2013. E15060P ''Image from former T.R. Beckett files held by East Sussex Library Service.

Members of Parliament in East Sussex were this week sharing their tributes and views on the divisive figure of Margaret Thatcher, the UK’s first woman Prime Minister.

Lewes MP Norman Baker (L.Dem) 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.

Baroness Thatcher, Greg Barker (Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment)

Baroness Thatcher, Greg Barker (Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment)

“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’ 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.”

Brighton Kemptown MP Simon Kirby, who represents Peacehaven, has paid tribute to Baroness Thatcher, who passed away on Monday April 8.

Mr Kirby (Conservative) said: “I was extremely sorry to hear of the death of Baroness Thatcher earlier today.

“She was an inspirational woman, a remarkable leader and our greatest peacetime Prime Minister.

“She will be remembered fondly in Brighton where she demonstrated her immense courage in the wake of the 1984 bombing, and sent out a strong message that the country would not bow to terrorism.

“Through her tenacity, vision and belief in Britain she revived this country’s fortunes and made us a force in the world. It is a sad day, and a chance to remember all that she achieved in her own life, and as our first female Prime Minister.”

Wealden MP Charles Hendry (Conservative) 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.”

Heathfield MP Greg Barker (Conservative) said: “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.”