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Meriden MP Caroline Spelman leads local tributes to former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher

Meriden MP Caroline Spelman has led local tributes to Margaret Thatcher, who died this week aged 87

Caroline Spelman
Caroline Spelman

Meriden MP Caroline Spelman has led local tributes to Margaret Thatcher, who died this week aged 87.

Mrs Spelman said the woman who rose from grocer’s daughter to world leader had been an inspiration throughout her own political career.

“We will mourn the passing of a great statesman who led the way to end the Cold War which overshadowed my generation, as well as casting off the bad reputation of Britain as the sick man of Europe. She made me proud to be British.”

Following Mrs Thatcher’s death on Monday, Solihull’s Conservative Association has opened a book of condolence.

Britain’s first and only female Prime Minister visited Solihull several times during her 20 years on the frontline of politics.

In October 1972, during her controversial tenure as Education Secretary, she was invited to open the new Knowle Infant School.

She also visited Marston Green Infants and Arden School during her five years in the job, which earned her the moniker ‘Margaret Thatcher, Milk Snatcher’.

Elected as Conservative leader in 1975, she returned to the borough in the spring of 1979, a few months before she became the first woman to enter No 10, Downing Street.

Perhaps her most notable visit came nine years later, on the eve of the 1987 General Election - in which she would lead her party to a third consecutive victory.

By that time, the Thatcherite revolution was in full swing and she used the speech to defend some of her most controversial policies - including privatisation of public utilities and tighter controls on trade unions.

“This election is about keeping Britain strong, prosperous and free,” she told Solihull Conference Centre.

The radical changes she brought in continue to divide opinion. Julian Knight, the Tories’ parliamentary candidate for Solihull, hailed her as “our greatest post war Prime Minister.”

But her policies also drew criticism. Among them the right to buy council houses, a scheme which has been blamed by some borough councillors for the chronic shortage of social housing in the borough.

Solihull MP Lorely Burt said: “Love her or loathe her, she dominated British politics for over a decade.”

 

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