Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Thursday, 11 April 2013


It was a defining moment – a phrase we often hear. Margaret Hilda Thatcher was a defining person. I know that many of my own colleagues came into politics because they were inspired by her. Many of our opponents came into politics because they were so opposed to her. They were defined by her. She defined her generation like no other politician before or since.

Although she has been failing for many years, I was genuinely sad to learn of her death on Monday. She displayed the qualities of leadership that are needed in tough times and it may well be that we are heading for a season when those granite-like qualities will be necessary again. Cometh the hour, cometh the man, goes the old saying. When we had our backs against the wall in 1940, we needed Winston Churchill. No one around at that time could have done what he did. In more gentle times when the mood was for rebuilding and a welfare state, Clement Atlee fitted the bill well. But in the 1970's once again in trouble, our nation reached out to a woman of unique strength and character. She did not just lead the nation, she saved it.

If I had a pound for every time a constituent said to me: if only we could have Maggie back in charge again, I could buy a Jaguar.

She was of course controversial. Her policies genuinely hurt people in order to make the necessary platform for future prosperity. Communities that depended on unprofitable state owned industries suffered greatly as we moved towards a market based enterprise economy. I remember Linda Gilroy telling me in 2001 that her campaign for re-election in Plymouth Sutton only really took off after Mrs Thatcher had come to Plymouth to speak, reminding many of her constituents of the pain of the sweeping societal changes she wrought. I accept all of that, but her achievements for the nation were extraordinary. The sick man of Europe became a world beater.
History will judge her very kindly.

She ran an amazing race. I suspect she might have looked back on her own life and wonder about certain aspects of it – maybe she wished she had spent more time with the children. I doubt if she ever truly forgave the Conservative party for dumping her in 1990. But it is given to few people to change the world. She did that.

May she rest in peace.

posted by Gary @ 09:12