Swindon’s two Conservative MPs have added the voices to the huge number of tributes towards the passing of former Prime Minister Baroness Margaret Thatcher, but a former Mayor of Swindon says the policies of her governments oppressed working people and divided the nation.
Baroness Thatcher with North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson after he was elected in 2010.
Below, Margaret Thatcher pictured by Richard Wintle of www.calyxpix.com on 20 August 1987 when she visited Princess Margaret Hospital Swindon to meet survivor victims of the Hungerford massacre and medical staff
South Swindon MP Robert Buckland said: “I was very sad to hear of the death of Lady Thatcher.
“Defeating the Soviet threat, fighting for the Falklands, and refusing to accept that managing decline was the way to run Britain – all these things make her a truly remarkable figure.
“The changes to trade union legislation and privatisation have had a lasting impact. Added to which, of course, she has a place in history as the country’s first woman Prime Minister.
“The times were different – more polarised in many ways, but she made changes for the better. And I do think she was actually more pragmatic and ready to compromise than is remembered now.
“Swindon re-invented itself under her leadership and in many ways reflected the huge strides we made as a country. It wasn’t all rosy of course, but history will remember her as a great leader.”
Justin Tomlinson, MP for North Swindon, said: “I am saddened to learn of Lady Thatcher’s death. She was an inspirational prime minister who literally grabbed the nation by the scruff of the neck when we were sick man of Europe.
“She was woman of great conviction, charisma and determination who had remarkable strength of character in a time of division and anger.
“For me her real legacy was restoring hope and aspiration in Great Britain and played an important role in bringing an end to the Cold War and uniting nations.”
However, Swindon Borough Councillor Derique Montaut, a former Mayor of Swindon when Mrs Thatcher was PM said she was a divisive force in the country. “Margaret Thatcher was one of the most hated individuals in modern politics.
"The miners had a deep hatred for her and this was shared by many ordinary people. While it’s always a sad situation when anyone passes away it’s impossible to ignore the fact that she was responsible for polarising the nation.
"It should have been a great achievement to be the first woman Prime Minister but she was a very oppressive individual with a war-mongerish attitude who introduced anti-trade union laws that meant working people lost representation.
"The initial job of any Prime Minister is to unify the nation but people will recall the divisions she caused, and because of that I find it hard to celebrate her life.”