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Saturday, 04 July 2015

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Magaret Thatcher: West Cumbria divided

Lord Campbell-Savours, Workington’s former MP, said he deplored Margaret Thatcher’s policies but yearned for a Labour leader with her drive and passion.

He led the memories and tributes from West Cumbria to Britain’s only woman Prime Minister, who died aged 87 on Monday after suffering a stroke.

Lord Campbell-Savours first met the Iron Lady in 1979, the year she became Prime Minister.

He said he deplored her policies, but admired her relentless energy and determination to pursue her beliefs.

He was a Labour backbencher in the opposition throughout her premiership.

He said: “I deplored her belief that greed could be harnessed to drive through economic reform and I believe she had no understanding whatsoever of communities.

“Nevertheless, I am torn over my admiration for her anti-establishment, unrelenting determination to pursue her beliefs, however mistaken, in my view.

“I yearn for a Labour Prime Minister who is equally passionate and prepared to challenge the status quo and, like Margaret Thatcher, drive through the real Labour agenda that our activists believe in.

“I have learnt over a political lifetime that too many politicians blink and back down, not so Mrs Thatcher.”

Baroness Thatcher, the longest-serving Prime Minister of the 20th century, served three consecutive terms in office.

Considered by many to be the most important and influential leader since Winston Churchill, she was also a hugely divisive figure in British politics.

Her premiership was defined by clashes with the miners and struggles with the unions but she gained huge popularity for her strong stance on the issue of Falkland Islands sovereignty.

She visited West Cumbria in 1976 as Conservative party leader and campaigned for Conservative MP candidate Richard Page in a Workington by-election.

Baroness Thatcher did brief walkabouts in Workington, Cockermouth, Maryport and Keswick.

Margaret Jones, a Conservative Workington town councillor, said she visited the town’s Conservative Club and a man prevented her from going to the bar.

She said: “One of the men stood in the doorway and said she couldn’t get past to go to the bar because it was men only. She’ll always be the best Prime Minister ever, and I feel a great deal of sadness to hear of her death.”

Bob Hardon, then a Conservative Allerdale councillor, also met Mrs Thatcher at the Conservative Club.

He said: “She was a very formidable lady and it was an honour to meet her.

“It’s a pity we don’t have a leader with her stamina and backbone. We won’t see the likes of her again. This country could do with another Margaret Thatcher.”

Barbara Cannon, the Labour deputy leader of Allerdale councillor, said: “She was a formidable Prime Minister who, whatever else you think of her, has left a legacy, and history will judge her on that legacy.”

Workington MP, Labour’s Sir Tony Cunningham, said: “My thoughts are with her family. I thought she was a very powerful Prime Minister and very divisive. There were no grey area – either you loved her or hated her.”

Sam Standage, a Conservative Allerdale and Cockermouth councillor, said: “She was probably one of the best Prime Ministers we have ever had after Winston Churchill. I have respect for her and will do for as long as I am still breathing.”

Leading West Cumbrian Conservative Tim Heslop met Baroness Thatcher three times when she visited Cumbria including when she came to Workington in 1976.

He said: “She was a lot nicer than she was portrayed in the press. She impressed you when you did meet her.

“She was very strong and did the job that needed to be done.”

l What did you think of the Iron Lady? Visit www.timesandstar.co.uk and tell us your views.

Have your say

Funny isn't it, when a person cannot refute the argument he always attacks the writer; just as R Paola has done with Dr Hill and his well written letter.

Posted by Dave on 30 April 2013 at 01:48

It must be difficult for David Hill to understand why so few people see the error of their ways when they vote anything but Tory. If I was in his position I would hope that democracy is in future restricted to those few souls who share his views and the truth of his analysis. Blue legs good red legs bad.

Posted by R Paolo on 19 April 2013 at 13:44

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