‘Thatcher no friend of Middlesbrough’ says MP

THATCHER IN MIDDLESBROUGH: an iconic image of Thatcher’s ‘walk in the wilderness’

THE funeral of Britain’s first female Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was held yesterday, giving the whole country time to reflect on the effect she had on their areas.

During her time in office she split opinion and since her death similiar debates and disagreements have surfaced.

She will be remembered for her strict decision making,  privatisation and her Iron Lady persona. But how will she be remembered in Middlesbrough?

Middlesbrough’s Labour MP, Andy McDonald believes the area is still hurting from Baroness Thatcher’s reign, creating a wider North-South divide.

He said: ” The divisions in our society, which so characterised her Premiership and which became so deeply entrenched, have not been resolved.

“She was a conviction politician but her convictions were not ones I could share.”

Mr McDonald’s comments may not be fully reflective of all of Middlesbrough’s feelings towards Margaret Thatcher’s legacy.

Jacob Young, 20, Chairman of Teesside Conservative Future believes that Middlesbrough’s current perception of the Thatcher effect is wrong.

He added: ” Her legacy is a great one and the area would be in a much worse state had it not been for her. It is a true shame that many in Middlesbrough will fail to ever recognise that.

“Margaret Thatcher’s legacy in Middlesbrough, at first glance, may look similar to that of Gordon Brown’s since under her government, industry in the region sank quickly, there was a lot of unemployment and people were frustrated.”

Jacob believes Thatcher saved our region from years of discontent and should be remembered for the accomplishments she gained in office such as her victory in three general elections and for her flight to save the Falkland Island.

He said: “Thatcher set out to create new industry in the North East, industry for the future. No longer did the world depend on our iron laden hills, or coal stained grounds.

“She foresaw an industry on it’s last legs, and rather than sustain it, she tried to change it.

“One of the most successful factories in the North East is Nissan in Sunderland; set up under the Thatcher Government.”

CONSERVATIVE FUTURE: referred to as the youth wing of the Conservatives

Today’s funeral, alleged to have cost the Government £10 million, is another issue which has divided opinion.

“Although there are a number of people who disliked Mrs. Thatcher, there are a great deal of people up and down the country who would like to pay due respect,” Jacob said.

“I think it’s a small price to pay for the money she saved us. The rebate she secured from the European Union alone has accumulated to approximately £75 billion,” he said.

Many Conservatives have pointed to the European Union rebate to mitigate the cost of the funeral, but Labour MP, Andy McDonald believes it is a weak argument.

He said: “The ceremonial funeral will be expensive and I do not agree with William Hague that the country can afford it, nor that it can be justified on some spurious grounds that the former Prime Minster achieved savings from Britain’s contribution to the EU.

ANDY MCDONALD: Labour MP is no friend of Thatcher

“If the eventual cost of the funeral is £8m-£10m, then that equates to the loss to Middlesbrough’s economy from the draconian welfare changes introduced by the Government this month.

“I think I know where my priorities lie when it comes to a choice between supporting those who need it most in our society and a showcase send off for a politician who was no friend of Middlesbrough.”



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