By Cllr Teresa O’Neill
Leader of London Councils’ Conservative Group
With the death of Baroness Margaret Thatcher, Britain has lost one of its greatest prime ministers and we Conservatives have lost a very dear member of our political family whose years of leadership still continue to shape our party’s core beliefs and policies. Our thoughts also go out to her family, especially her children, Carol and Mark, on their sad loss today.
Lady Thatcher’s leadership and her willingness to take the “tough decisions” helped restore the ‘great’ in Great Britain; she led the turnaround in our country’s economic fortunes that put us back at the top table internationally. The fall of Communism and the thawing of the Cold War at the end of her time as PM simply further underlined her belief in the moral and economic superiority of freedom and the free market.
For those of us in local government, the Thatcher years saw enormous innovation in service delivery with the advent of competitive tendering and greater use of markets. But for millions, Lady Thatcher’s victory in 1979 also brought with it the opportunity to buy their council house, to own their own home for the first time. The legacy of ‘Right to Buy’ is still with us and it still speaks to that common aspiration that Lady Thatcher understood so well, to own our own home.
A London MP, representing the Barnet seat of Finchley, Lady Thatcher was a politician who challenged the status quo to become Britain’s first female prime minister and who would lead the Conservative party to three successive general election victories.
The ‘Iron Lady’ was an inspiration to me and so many others in Britain and across the world; she showed what could be achieved through hard work, courage and sheer determination – and she inspired us to act and to make a difference in the world.
Her policies saw Britain, once the ‘sick man of Europe,’ become a vibrant and renewed country, with new opportunities and new horizons; she inspired by example, and argued that individual freedom and personal responsibility were essential to social welfare and the prosperity of nations.
Lady Thatcher’s passing is sad and we will miss her deeply; but Lady Thatcher leaves a legacy that continues to enrich and inspire us all.