Conservative Diary

Thatcher & Thatcherism

9 Apr 2013 08:21:53

A Prime Minister and a Party that are still in Thatcher's shadow

By Paul Goodman
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David Cameron's well-judged tribute to Margaret Thatcher won't make the coming days any less difficult for him.  For although he will have a certain ceremonial position during the coming week, and a certain status as the leader of the party she once herself led, he also has certain difficulty: namely, that he is dwarved by her giant shadow.  This would be true of any imaginable Conservative leader.  But it is accentuated by a single fact.  She won three elections.  He hasn't - yet - won one, and it may never happen.

However, the Prime Minister's problem with Mrs Thatcher, as I will always of her from her great days, is less than the Conservative Party's.  Very simply, it has yet to come to terms with living in that shadow, either, or fully recognising that the age of Thatcher - like the lady herself now, alas - is dead.  It must seek to value what she handed on, like some precious family heirloom, while recognising that families themselves change over the generations.  And it has not yet fully recovered from the wound in the family made by the coup that overthrew her.

Perhaps this will change with her death, immensely sad as it is.  Writing on ConservativeHome this morning, Owen Paterson becomes the second Cabinet Minister, after George Osborne, to offer his own tribute - and suggests how her inheritance can, to use a very Thatcherite figure of speech, be invested and made profitable.  How right he is to look forward to a happier future for our party than the past it has endured since she left office.  It is one for which Cameron himself, amidst the tensions of Coalition, must himself struggle.

9 Apr 2013 06:55:39

An Iron Lady of Christian faith

By Tim Montgomerie
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One of the best pieces you'll read in the papers this morning is in the Daily Mail from Cynthia Crawford - 'Crawfie' - Lady Thatcher's personal assistant during her time at Number 10 and her lifelong friend. In a intimate portrait Crawfie - as Lady Thatcher called her - writes about Mrs Thatcher the private person - including her love of fashion and, in this extract, her personal faith:

"It was the private face of Lady T that I knew best. I saw her humanity. I was with her when she wept privately for our soldiers killed in the Falklands. I knelt beside her when — careless of her own close brush with death — we prayed together at our bedsides for the bereaved on the night of the Brighton bomb."

In The Times (link to follow) we also have a piece from her former Head of the Number 10 Policy Unit, Lord Griffiths of Fforestfach. Brian writes about the Iron Lady's faith. Here's an extract:

"For Margaret Thatcher the Christian faith was not only intensely personal, it was also the basis of her approach to economic and social policy. She was a politician not a theologian but she had an instinctive grasp of orthodox Christian theology. She placed great stress on the Old Testament and referred to her perspective as Judaeo-Christian rather than simply Christian. Christian social doctrine was in the Old Testament, while its spirit and deeper meaning were set out by Jesus in the gospels. She had great regard for the Chief Rabbi, who was later ennobled and more generally for the commitment to family, public service and charity shown by the Jewish Community. By taking key elements from both the Old and New Testaments she argued that we gain “a view of the universe, a proper attitude to work and principles to shape economic and social life”. The creation mandate, care for the environment, private property rights, the rule of law, economic justice, provisions for the elderly, the sick and the disabled were all principles which influenced her policies and which grew out of her Judaeo-Christian world view."

8 Apr 2013 20:19:43

This year's Party Conference should honour Margaret Thatcher

Screen shot 2013-04-08 at 20.17.33
By Paul Goodman

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Parliament will honour Margaret Thatcher on Wednesday.  But what will the party do?  I gather that Grant Shapps is mulling the options.  The Party Chairman is much taken by Barak Obama's use of volunteers during last year's election, but recognises to that be effective, they must be trained.  That may mean a training school or college of some.  Which in turn may mean naming it after Baroness Thatcher.  (By the way, Shapps will have his eye on Ed Milband's own plans for recruiting an army of community organisers, which have involved the American campaigner Arnie Graf.)

Whatever happens, something special should be done to honour Baroness Thatcher's memory at this year's party conference, and I believe Shapps is already thinking of ways to do so.  It isn't easy finding very senior former Ministers from the Thatcher years who left her government on relaxed terms with her. (Nigel Lawson, anyone?  Geoffrey Howe?  And by the way, anyone seen Michael Heseltine today?) Lord Tebbit was one of her original "Gang of Four", but has always been very much his own man. Shapps is a great admirer of Cecil Parkinson, who remains as sharp as ever.  Whatever the party does at its conference, Lord Parkinson should certainly be involved.

8 Apr 2013 16:51:25

Why Margaret Thatcher was great

By Paul Goodman

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When a statesman as great as Margaret Thatcher dies, it is inevitable and right to try to describe what that she meant to the party, to the country, to the world - and, in a certain sense, to women.  Others are better suited to that task than I am, so I simply want to write a very brief appreciation of what she meant to me and, perhaps, to many ConservativeHome readers.

To say that I was not a Thatcherite when - and how long ago it seems now - I was a Conservative student, and a new party member, would be an understatement.  But I am not sure that even her admirers then, during the early 1980s, grasped how great she would become - and, in essence, was.  The source of that greatness was a simple but strong sense pf patriotism: she rose each morning not just determined to win elections, (though she was the party's most successful leader in that regard, and we may not see her like again), but to reverse Britain's decline.  I was right then to believe that she made mistakes - though we all do, and they weren't the ones that, in my youthful folly, I thought I'd identified at the time.  But I failed to grasp how unusual, among politicians, this focused dedication to restoring Britain's greatness was.

Continue reading "Why Margaret Thatcher was great" »

8 Apr 2013 13:18:59

Baroness Thatcher RIP - rolling blog

By Harry Phibbs
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9pm Signing off. A sad day but an amazing reaction from around the world. I hope that a few more will now understand the value of Thatcher of Thatcherism. Lot's more coverage in the morning...

8.55pm The Leader of London Councils’ Conservative Group, Cllr. Teresa O’Neill says:

“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.

“Mrs. 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, Mrs. 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 Mrs. Thatcher understood so well, to own our own home.

“A London MP, representing the Barnet seat of Finchley, Mrs. 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 Mrs. Thatcher leaves a legacy that continues to enrich and inspire us all.”

8.50pm Peter Hitchens writes:

‘ The right hon. Gentleman is afraid of an election, is he? Afraid? Frightened? Frit? Could not take it? Cannot stand it? If I were going to cut and run, I should have gone after the Falklands. Frightened! Right now inflation is lower than it has been for 13 years—a record which the right hon. Gentleman could not begin to touch.’

‘Frit!’. We had never heard it before,  especially not from her, but you knew what it meant as soon as it struck the eardrum. It was much more damaging than ‘afraid’ or ‘frightened’ because it came from somewhere much deeper.  It was the sharp, unanswerable Saxon jibe and challenge, pronounced with a sneer, that you couldn’t answer and which everyone listening would know had struck home. It was completely British,  and it was not from the neat world of suburban lawns and afternoon tea, but from the other less gentle world of cracked pavements and grimy brick walls where the only thing to do when in trouble was to stand and fight. And so she did.

This was not a handbagging, but a straightforward kick in the shins, as no doubt administered from time to time in the playground of Huntingtower Road County Elementary School. (This was the school where, when the head told the young Margaret she had been lucky to win a poetry recital contest, the self-possessed little girl snapped back ‘I wasn’t lucky. I deserved it’).

8.40pm The Margaret Thatcher Foundation have produced a special obituary.

8.35pm Special programme on Margaret Thatcher presented by Andrew Marr being shown on BBC One now.

8.25pm The Prime Minister of New Zealand John Key says:

"You had to admire a woman that had such courage of her convictions.

She faced very, very difficult times, difficult circumstances. She stood up for what she believed in. She was fiercely determined all the way through."

"There would be people who agreed and disagreed with the direction in which she took Britain but what you cant question is that she was up against a very challenging set of circumstances on a number of fronts, she passionately believed in what she was doing and that passion showed all the way through".

"She will be remembered as a very strong and determined leader that faced some real challenges -obviously the conflict with the Falklands, the conflict with the IRA and tremendous economic challenges that Great Britain faced

"I think she has left a strong and permanent legacy for Great Britain. The challenges she faced were quite unique at the time. She was very determined as a leader but she believed passionately in what she was doing and she'll be missed by many people in Britain."

8.20pm Lord Howe writes for the Evening Standard:

My 15 years in harness with Margaret Thatcher — from Shadow chancellor in 1975, through Chancellor and Foreign Secretary to Deputy Prime Minister in 1990 — ended in traumatic political divorce. Since then our exchanges have been courteous, but minimal.

Yet I still look back on our years of uneasy but creative partnership with a great sense of privilege and achievement. No one, in my judgment, did more in the last quarter of the 20th century to change the shape of our world. She made some huge mistakes, of course, but on the whole it was change for the better.

8.15pm Mitt Romney says:

"History will enshrine Margaret Thatcher as a transformational leader who helped defeat communism, promote freedom, and bring hope to the oppressed. Her penetrating words and compelling vision will last for generations."

8.10pm The Economist gives its verdict:

Only a handful of peace-time politicians can claim to have changed the world. Margaret Thatcher, who died this morning, was one," argues The Economist, in its look at the former prime minister's life.

"Her enthusiasm for privatisation launched a global revolution and her willingness to stand up to tyranny helped to bring an end to the Soviet Union. Winston Churchill won a war, but he never created an "ism".

7.55pm Emma Pidding, Chairman of the National Conservative Convention, on behalf of the voluntary party says:

Margaret Thatcher transformed Britain , inspiring a generation across the world with her towering determination and her resolute leadership. She put the Great back into Britain and by winning three consecutive General Elections created a political legacy that may never be equalled. From an era when politics was dominated by men in grey suits, Margaret Thatcher proved that a grocer's daughter could become the most respected and successful political leader through ability, confidence and sheer hard work. For over 10 years Downing Street the world came to respect her and the United Kingdom in equal measure.

For everyone engaged in politics this is a sad day. But there is much to celebrate in a life of huge achievement and conviction that served Britain and the world so well.

On behalf of the members and supporters of the Conservative Party, as Chairman of the National Conservative Convention, I send to Sir Mark Thatcher and to Carol Thatcher our condolences and our love.

Thatcherfalklands7.50pm At Government House in Stanley in the Falklands Islands the Governor's flag at half-mast.

7.45pm Dan Hannan writes:

Margaret Thatcher, almost alone, refused to accept the inevitability of decline. She was determined to turn the country around, and she succeeded. Inflation fell, strikes stopped, the latent enterprise of a free people was awakened. Having lagged behind for a generation, we
outgrew every European country in the 1980s except Spain (which was bouncing back from an even lower place). As revenues flowed in, taxes were cut and debt was repaid, while public spending – contrary to almost universal belief – rose.


7.30pm Baroness Shephard says:

"She has left a great legacy. One of her greatest legacies was that she proved that a woman could be prime minister of this country... Since then anything has become possible for women.

Nile Gardiner, of the US-based Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom,says:

"She was the conviction politician, the figure who stuck to her principles and belief. Inevitably she's mentioned in the same breath as Churchill."

Lord Dobbs says:

"I remember her at the Brighton bombing and the extraordinary resilience in the hours after the attempt to kill her when several of her friends had been killed.

"I will always remember her being dragged out of Downing Street - a Shakespearean tragedy almost leaving the fingernails in the carpet of Downing Street - and the tears we all saw."

7.25pm There will be a special session in the House of Lords as well as the House of Commons from 2.30pm on Wednesday.

John Boehner, the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, says:

The greatest peacetime prime minister in British history is dead. Margaret Thatcher, a grocer’s daughter, stared down elites, union bosses, and communists to win three consecutive elections, establish conservative principles in Western Europe, and bring down the Iron Curtain.

There was no secret to her values – hard work and personal responsibility – and no nonsense in her leadership. She once said, ‘Defeat? I do not recognize the meaning of the word.’ Now this lady who was never for turning goes to rest as grateful friends and allies around the world mourn her passing and pray for her loved ones.

Americans will always keep Lady Thatcher in our hearts for her loyalty to Ronald Reagan and their friendship that we all admired. At this difficult hour, I send the condolences of the U.S. House of Representatives to Prime Minister Cameron and the British people.

7.20pm Vladimir Putin, Russian President, says:

"Thatcher was undoubtedly one of the most brilliant political figures of the contemporary world.

"I knew her personally: she always made a great impression.

"In my opinion, we have lost an outstanding political figure; I regret that, and I express my condolences in the name of the Russia leadership to the British government and to the British people."

7.15pm John Kerry says:

'The world has lost a transformative leader'.

I was saddened to learn of Baroness Thatcher's passing, and Teresa and I join millions across the United Kingdom and around the world in mourning her loss and celebrating her life. We pray especially for Carol and Mark and their families.

The United States has lost a dear friend, and the world has lost a transformative leader who broke the glass ceiling in global politics. With her characteristic determination, she defined grit on the world stage and grace in the face of advancing age and illness.

Lady Thatcher took the helm of government amid tumultuous times. She would face wars abroad, terrorism at home, and deep uncertainty about the United Kingdom's future. She met all these challenges and many others with unyielding drive and courage.

We celebrate especially the way, with a hand outstretched across the Atlantic, Lady Thatcher strengthened the Special Relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom-a relationship that remains a driving force for freedom, justice, and democracy.

In 1985, when I was a newly sworn Senator, Prime Minister Thatcher spoke to our Congress. The threat of a Soviet Empire she warned against has given way to a new set of global challenges, but our alliance with the United Kingdom remains an unrivaled source of strength in today's challenges from Afghanistan to Syria.

7.10pm David Cameron's statement in full:

Today we lost a great leader, a great Prime Minister and a great Briton. Margaret Thatcher didn't just lead our country - she saved our country.

And we should never forget that the odds were stacked against her. She was the shopkeeper's daughter from Grantham who made it to the highest office in the land. There were people who said she couldn't make it; who stood in her way; who said a woman couldn't lead. She defied them all

She fought her way to a seat in the leadership of her party, and then to lead our country, winning the backing of the British people three times in a row.

She will be remembered for the big political battles she fought. Taking on the union barons. Privatising industry. Unleashing enterprise. Rescuing the economy. Letting people buy their council homes. Winning the Falklands War. Strengthening our defences. Helping to win the Cold War. Margaret Thatcher took a country that was on its knees and made Britain stand tall again.

We can't deny that Lady Thatcher divided opinion. For many of us, she was and is an inspiration. For others she was a force to be defined against.

But if there is one thing that cuts through all of this - one thing that runs through everything she did - it was her lion-hearted love for this country. She was the patriot Prime Minister and she fought for Britain's interests every single step of the way.

It is over 30 years since she stood here in Downing Street for the first time. And her impact - here and abroad - is still remarkable.

When you negotiate in Brussels, it is still her rebate you are defending. When you stand in Budapest, Warsaw or Prague, you are standing in nations whose liberty she always stood up for. When today we admire Britain's strongest companies, very often they are ones she helped transform from failing state monoliths to thriving private sector businesses. When people said that Britain could not be great again - she proved them wrong.

Margaret Thatcher loved this country and served it with all she had. For that she has her well-earned place in history - and the enduring respect and gratitude of the British people.

To show its respect, the Speaker has agreed to recall Parliament on Wednesday for a special session in which tributes will be paid.

Finally, let's remember that Margaret Thatcher was not just a great statesman, she was also a mother and grandmother - and our thoughts should be with her family tonight.

7pm  Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt says:

Mrs Thatcher leaves an indelible impression on the #UK. We should not forget that her part in ending Cold War made the world a safer place.

6.30pm Downing Street statement on funeral arrangements:

In line with the wishes of her family and with the Queen's consent, Lady Thatcher will receive a Ceremonial funeral with military honours. The service will be held at St Paul's Cathedral and is
expected to take place next week.

A wide and diverse range of people and groups with connections to Lady Thatcher will be invited. The service will be followed by a private cremation.

The Funeral

The funeral will be a mix of the public and private. The service at St Paul’s Cathedral will be televised and members of the public can watch the coffin procession from the Palace of Westminster to St Paul’s.

Lady Thatcher’s wish was for the armed forces to be able to participate in the funeral – they will therefore have a key part to play.

On the day before the funeral, the coffin will be moved to Chapel of St Mary Undercroft in the Palace of Westminster. There will be a short service following its arrival. The coffin will rest in the
Chapel overnight.

On the day itself, the streets will be cleared of traffic and the coffin will travel by hearse from the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft in the Palace of Westminster to the Church of St Clement Danes, the RAF Chapel, on the Strand.

At the Church the coffin will be transferred to a gun carriage drawn by the King’s Troop Royal Artillery. The coffin will then be borne in Procession from St Clement Danes to St Paul’s Cathedral. The route will be lined by tri-service military personnel.

The coffin will be met at St Paul’s Cathedral by a guard of honour. Tri-service personnel and Pensioners of the Royal Hospital Chelsea will line the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral.

The coffin will be borne into and out of the Cathedral by a tri-service bearer party.

The guest list for St Paul’s will include family and friends of Lady Thatcher, those who worked with her over the years, including members of her Cabinets when she was Prime Minister, and representatives from a range of groups she was associated with. The Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister will attend and the Cabinet and Shadow Cabinet will be invited.

Flags will be flown at half mast at Downing Street today and tomorrow, and will be again on the day of the funeral.

Information for the public.

Lady Thatcher’s family have asked that, if people wish to pay their respects, they consider making a donation to the Royal Hospital Chelsea, rather than laying flowers. Details of how to do so available on the Royal Hospital Chelsea website

The No.10 website ( will have a condolence pageon which people will be able to write private messages for the Thatcher family.

The public will be unable to attend the funeral service itself but can line the route of the funeral procession from the RAF Church in the Strand to St Paul’s Cathedral.

Further details will be made available in due course.

6.10pm Charles Moore biography of Margaret Thatcher will be published just after the funeral.

6.05pm Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper says:

"While many in positions of power are defined by the times in which they govern, Margaret Thatcher had that rarest of abilities to herself personify and define the age in which she served.

"Indeed, with the success of her economic policies, she defined contemporary conservatism itself.

"In 2006 I met with her in London, where she provided me wise and gracious counsel, the memory of which I will forever cherish. Laureen (Mr Harper's wife) and I join all Canadians in saluting the proud life and legacy of Lady Thatcher."

6pm Full schedule of Margaret Thatcher archive films on BBC Parliament Channel

5.55pm Arnold Schwarzenegger says:

Margaret Thatcher was a visionary, a warrior and a once-in-a-lifetime leader who left the world better than she found it. We'll miss her.

Sir Richard Branson says:

I am a great believer in free and fair competition in business. Margaret Thatcher was the greatest advocate for competition that we have had in a long time.

She and MP Malcolm Rifkind stuck their necks out against British Airways in allowing Virgin Atlantic to fly from Heathrow. If we hadn't been admitted, I don't think we would have survived. One after another, carriers at Gatwick collapsed as they couldn't compete with their rivals at Heathrow, so we will always be grateful for the role Baroness Thatcher played giving us a springboard to survival.

When BA took the Union Flag off their plane, she got her handkerchief out and covered up their new tails. We got the Union Flag on our planes the next day and happily became Britain's Flag Carrier.

On social policies we disagreed on a great many things. As a young man I was slightly taken aback by her strident approach to issues. I remember saying to her after she had retired: "There was a time when if I had seen you on the street I would have crossed the road." Years later, I was happy to eat humble pie with her over a cup of tea.

Standing back and watching what she achieved, she made mistakes but was willing to make tough decisions and I admired her tenacity. She really did set the groundwork for entrepreneurialism and business in Britain. She will go down in the history books as somebody who made a real difference.

5.50pm David Cameron is expected to announce that Parliament is to be recalled, probably on Thursday.

5.45pm Lord Carrington says:

"Nobody who worked with her could fail to recognise her commitment and determination; and above all, those who knew her knew she was kind and a good friend"

The Royal Hospital Chelsea tweets:

All at the Royal Hospital were very sad to hear of the passing of Baroness Thatcher. She was a strong supporter of the Chelsea Pensioners.

Nancy Reagan says:

"Ronnie and Margaret were political soul mates, committed to freedom and resolved to end Communism. As prime minister, Margaret had the clear vision and strong determination to stand up for her beliefs at a time when so many were afraid to "rock the boat."

Grant Shapps says:

"I speak for the whole Conservative Family when I say that Lady Thatcher will be forever remembered & admired in our party & around the world."

Lord Mandelson says:

"I'm not sure whether I saw her as an inspiration. I certainly saw her as a force to be reckoned
with, I mean a political and electoral force that was almost overwhelming.

"I think also, on reflection, to be honest, I would say that she introduced, she ushered in, a timely and necessary overhaul of the UK economy in many ways.

"The problem I have with that reflection, though, is that I think in other ways she was too indifferent to the social consequences of the economic changes she was undertaking."

Bill Clinton says:

"Lady Thatcher understood that the special relationship which has long
united our two nations is an indispensable foundation for peace and
prosperity. Our strong partnership today is part of her

Home Secretary Theresa May says:

"As the first woman to reach that office, she remains an inspiration to millions of women of all
political persuasions. Her considerable legacy continues to shape British politics to this day."

5.40pm The Daily Telegraph website reproduces their front page from 1979:

5.35pm Douglas Carswell MP says:

Europe, the economy, cold war .... Where then any major issues of the day on which Margaret Thatcher was not right, and her critics wrong?

Lord Patten, who served as a Cabinet Minister under Baroness Thatcher, said  says:

After a period of great social and political turmoil, she made Britain governable again.

Whatever people's individual political views, I think we should all recognise her huge contribution to the history and well-being of this country.

We will all want to offer our sympathies and condolences to her children.

I first got to know her early on in my life when she was the local MP. She was loved and admired by many in the Jewish community who will miss her deeply.

Few people in my lifetime have left such a personal imprint on British life.

5.30pm Manmohan Singh, India's prime minister, says:

"She was a transformative figure under whom the United Kingdom registered important progress on the national and international arena. People of India join me in sending our sincerest condolences to the Thatcher family, the government and people of the United Kingdom.”

Maria Miller, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport says:

“I was deeply saddened to hear of the death of Baroness Thatcher. It was Margaret Thatcher who inspired me to become interested in politics. For me, she was the first politician who spoke the same language as ordinary people.”

5.25pm Charles Moore says:

"She’s a figure of myth and I mean by that that everybody for hundreds of years will know if you say ‘she’s a real Margaret Thatcher’, they’ll know what you mean. An -ism has been named after her, her character is very strong, her beliefs are very strong, and this has been an enormous part in the history of freedom in the western world and it is seen and admired and often criticised but nonetheless strongly admired across the world. I think particularly in the age we live in, in which politicians seem a bit frightened and seem just to be worrying about popularity, the idea that somebody actually cares about getting things done and does get a lot of them done is tremendously important, and that is very much part of her legacy."

5.20pm Francis Maude says:

“Britain today lost a Titan. Margaret Thatcher was a towering and world-changing Prime Minister, and a kind and compassionate woman.

“I was a young politician privileged to serve in her Government, and can never forget what the country owes to her.”

5.15pm President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, who in 2005 became the first female president of an African country, says:

"I admired her strength and tenacity. I admired her ability to make decisions, even when they were unpopular. And that's why she was called the Iron Lady, and I dare say that I'm also called the Iron Lady."

The actress Meryl Streep says:

“Margaret Thatcher was to me a figure of awe for her personal strength and grit. I was honoured to try to imagine her late life journey, after power; but I have only a glancing understanding of what her many struggles were, and how she managed to sail through to the other side.”

“To have withstood the special hatred and ridicule, unprecedented in my opinion, leveled in our time at a public figure who was not a mass murderer; and to have managed to keep her convictions attached to fervent ideals and ideas - wrongheaded or misguided as we might see
them now-without corruption - I see that as evidence of some kind of greatness, worthy for the argument of history to settle.”

“To have given women and girls around the world reason to supplant fantasies of being princesses with a different dream: the real-life option of leading their nation; this was groundbreaking and admirable.”

5.05pm Greg Hands MP tweets:

Terrible news about Lady Thatcher. Was Britain's greatest post-War PM, always very kind to me & made a huge difference to my C & F constits...

The loss of Lady Thatcher will be felt hard in the Royal Hospital, Chelsea, with its Margaret Thatcher Infirmary & chapel where she prayed...

Was enormously privileged to be asked by Conservative Way Forward in 2005 to deliver
a speech in Lady T's presence celebrating 30 years since she became Leader.

Simon Walker, director general of the Institute of Directors, says:

"Britain was privileged to have a prime minister who understood the importance of entrepreneurs, aspiration and business."

5pm Helmut Kohl says:

"I greatly valued Margaret Thatcher for her love of freedom, her incomparable openness, honesty and straightforwardness."

4.50pm NATO secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Baroness Thatcher "strongly supported NATO values."

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai said: "Prime Minister Thatcher was one of the greatest leaders the world knew.”

Lord  Lawson says:

Britain seemed doomed to continual economic decline. She changed all that and her tax reforms were emulated around the world.

She did not surround herself with Yes-men but people who shared her ideas to rescue the economy.

I wanted her to succeed but the poll tax was a grave error and a great misjudgment.

But I don't want to be drawn on the difficulties at the end. I want to focus on the enormous achievement of her first 10 years of Tory government.

Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson says:

Undoubtedly one of the greatest political figures of post-war Britain. She changed the face of our United Kingdom forever.

Whilst we disagreed over the Anglo-Irish Agreement, Mrs Thatcher was committed to the union and later described the Anglo-Irish Agreement as one of her greatest regrets.

4.45pm Tory Reform Group statement:

"The death earlier today of Baroness Thatcher marks the passing of an era in British politics.  The most electorally successful of modern Conservative Prime Ministers and the only woman to hold the post, she helped change our country in a way that few leaders have ever done. Much of Britain’s domestic culture and international position is a result of her style of leadership and the vision of a leader who set our her stall based on simple principles, learned from her father, a shopkeeper.  She showed how determination and hard-work can make anything possible.

If anyone broke the mould of British politics, it was her.  Today is not the time to analyse her legacy but rather a time to reflect and express our sympathy for her family at this difficult time.

Tim Crockford, TRG chairman, said:

“It is with great sadness that we learn of the passing of Lady Thatcher. The thoughts of all TRG members are with her family.”

David Lidington MP says:

Margaret Thatcher championed freedom & democracy in C & E Europe when those seemed unattainable & Soviet tyranny impossible to shake.

Sir Richard Branson tells Iain Dale that without Margaret Thatcher, "Virgin Airlines would not have survived".

 Ed Balls MP says:

Very sad to hear of the death of Margaret Thatcher. Our first woman PM, she was the one who truly 'broke the mould' of British poltics.

Greg Barker MP tweets

Very moving to come back into London & see the Union flags all at half mast right down Whitehall #ThatcherTribute

Therese Coffey MP says:

Margaret Thatcher spoke at Felixstowe Spa Pavilion in 1986, citing our Port as great eg of industrial relations working with employers

Standardthatcher4.35pm Evening Standard front page

4.25pm  Daniel Hannan MEP:

Margaret Thatcher took a country that was demoralized, dishonoured & bankrupt, and left it prosperous, confident & free. Our greatest PM.

French president Francois Hollande says:

"Throughout her public life, with conservative beliefs she fully assumed, she was concerned with the United Kingdom's influence and the defence of its interests.

She maintained a relationship with France that was frank and honest.

Together they (Baroness Thatcher and former French president Francois Mitterrand) worked to strengthen the ties between our two countries. And it was at this time that Mrs Thatcher gave the decisive impetus to the construction of the cross-Channel tunnel.

4.15pm Justin Tomlinson MP says:

I had the great pleasure of meeting Baroness Thatcher in Nov 2010, she made it clear we should keep up the good fight.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, says he heard the news with sadness and his prayers are with her family and friends. He adds:

"It is right that today we give thanks for a life devoted to public service, acknowledging also the faith that inspired and sustained her."

Brandon Lewis MP tweets:

Thoughts with family and friends.We have lost a Great British leader in Mrs Thatcher. She always stood by her beliefs + fought for Britain.

4.10pm Hilary Benn MP says:

Our thoughts today will above all be with Margaret Thatcher's family on their loss. She was a politician of conviction who broke new ground.

Jonathan Isaby tweets:

Am heartened to see flags respectfully flying at half mast across London this afternoon

4.05pm Condoleezza Rice said she was "honoured to know and to be inspired" by Margaret

I am deeply saddened by the news of the passing of Baroness Thatcher.

There was no more potent force in the defense of freedom than this remarkable woman.

Her unshakable belief in the universal appeal of liberty helped to steer the free world through treacherous times until communism was defeated and Europe emerged whole, free and a peace.

I was honoured to know her and to be inspired by her. Baroness Thatcher will be missed but generations will draw strength from the memory of her passion for freedom.

Lord Lamont says:

"The name Margaret Thatcher will always be synonymous with the word 'courage'. She had more courage than anyone I have ever known. The word impossible barely existed for her. We shall not see her like again."

4pm Bernard Jenkin MP says:

Mrs Thatcher will always be revered across the world for her sense of principle and iron will, even by those who disagreed with her.

Stewart Jackson MP says:

Privileged to have known Lady Thatcher. Principled, patriotic, unequalled. Ended Communist tyranny gave working people stake in their future.

Sam Gyimah MP says:

Baroness Thatcher was in a class of her own.1st female PM; won 3 general elections; longest continuously serving PM since Liverpool in 1827

Radoslaw Sikorski, Poland's foreign minister, says:

"Lady Thatcher, fearless champion of liberty, stood up for captive nations, helped free world win the Cold War. Deserves statue in Poland."

3.55pm Labour MP Paul Flynn tweets:

"Only two UK PMs of the 20th century who were not slaves to popular perception, prejudice and pressure - Clement Attlee and Margaret Thatcher."

Ian Paisley says:

"She was great - great as a woman, great as an MP, great as the first woman PM, great as a winner of the war."

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard says:

"Her service as the first female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom was a history-making achievement.

"Her strength of conviction was recognised by her closest supporters and her strongest opponents. I extend my sincere condolences and those of my fellow Australians to her family and friends."

3.52pm Environment Secretary Owen Paterson says:

It was remarkable enough to be the first woman Prime Minister and to win three clear Parliamentary majorities, but Lady Thatcher also took on a country widely seen to be in terminal decline. Through unshakeable conviction and true bravery, she transformed it by making a series of hideously difficult decisions. However she didn’t just change the lives of the people of Britain, but, working with Ronald Reagan, she helped release millions of people from tyranny across the world. This is a sad day for us all.

3.50pm President Obama says:

With the passing of Baroness Margaret Thatcher, the world has lost one of the great champions of freedom and liberty, and America has lost a true friend. As a grocer’s daughter who rose to become Britain’s first female prime minister, she stands as an example to our daughters that there is no glass ceiling that can’t be shattered. As prime minister, she helped restore the confidence and pride that has always been the hallmark of Britain at its best. And as an unapologetic supporter of our transatlantic alliance, she knew that with strength and resolve we could win the Cold War and extend freedom’s promise.

Here in America, many of us will never forget her standing shoulder to shoulder with President Reagan, reminding the world that we are not simply carried along by the currents of history—we can shape them with moral conviction, unyielding courage and iron will. Michelle and I send our thoughts to the Thatcher family and all the British people as we carry on the work to which she dedicated her life—free peoples standing together, determined to write our own destiny.

3.45pm Former US President George HW Bush says:

Barbara and I were deeply saddened to learn of Baroness Thatcher's passing, and extend our heartfelt condolences to her children and loved ones. Margaret was, to be sure, one of the 20th Century's fiercest advocates of freedom and free markets -- a leader of rare character who carried high the banner of her convictions, and whose principles in the end helped shape a better, freer world. The personal grief we Bushes feel is compounded by the knowledge that America has lost one of the staunchest allies we have ever known; and yet we have confidence that her sterling record of accomplishment will inspire future generations. May God bless the memory of Margaret Thatcher.

Dr Liam Fox MP says:

Thatcher's willingness to take on conventional wisdom of her time & to confront failed & dangerous ideologies led to a freer & better world.

Former Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy says:

My sincere sympathy goes out to the Thatcher family. We remember today a landmark political figure, both at home and abroad.

3.40pm German Chancellor Angela Merkel said:

"As a long-serving prime minister, she shaped modern Britain as few have before or since. She was one of the greatest leaders in world politics of her time. The freedom of the individual was at the centre of her beliefs so she recognised very early the power of the movements for freedom in Eastern Europe. And she supported them. I will never forget her contribution in overcoming Europe's partition and the end of the Cold War.

"Margaret Thatcher was not a feminist but by proving herself as a woman in the highest democratic post when this was far from usual, she gave an example to many. My thoughts and sympathy are with her children."

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said Lady Thatcher was "a true landmark in 20th-century history" and said today was "a sad day for Europe as a whole." He adds:

"Margaret Thatcher led the UK government at a key moment in history. Her unerring commitment to freedom, democracy and the rule of law, as well as her firm determination to reform, constitute a most valuable legacy for European leaders who, akin to the 80s when it was her turn to be in power, have to face very complex challenges which require greatly ambitious stances and political courage."

3.35pm  Lord Saatchi, Chairman of the Centre for Policy Studies, says:

"Everyone wants to be immortal. Few are. Mrs Thatcher is. Why? Because her values are timeless, eternal. Tap anyone on the shoulder anywhere in the world, and ask what Mrs Thatcher "believed in", and they will tell you. They can give a clear answer to what she "stood for".

She developed all the winning arguments of our time - free markets, low tax, a small state, independence, individuality, self-determination. The result was a revolution in economic policy and three election victories in a row.

The CPS is proud to be a footnote in her history".

Tim Knox, Director of the Centre for Policy Studies, says:

"The Centre for Policy Studies will strive to honour and promote Lady Thatcher's great achievements. Britain today faces great challenges, similar in many ways to those of the late 1970s -- in the economy, the European Union, the role of the state. We will continue to advocate and promote policies based on her founding principles."

3.30pm Henry Kissinger says:

“She was a leader of strong convictions, great leadership abilities and extraordinary personality. She was a woman who [knew that] a leader needed to have strong convictions because the public had no way of orienting itself unless its leadership, its leaders gave it the real push. She didn’t think it was her job to find the middle ground.”

3.25pm Donal Blaney, Chief Executive of Conservative Way Forward (of which Lady Thatcher
was President) says:

"I am deeply saddened to learn that Britain’s greatest post-war leader has passed away. She was the defining leader of modern times, taking our nation then regarded as the sick man of Europe and making Britain great again.

"Mere words can't do justice to her achievements. On the world stage she was a colossus, alongside Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II, she helped bring freedom to the enslaved nations of Eastern Europe. At home she transformed Britain from a failing and declining Country to one we could all be proud of.

"Let it be said of her, where there was doubt, she brought faith. And where there was despair, she brought hope.

"We must protect and honour her legacy from those who will seek to diminish her achievements.”

Dominic Raab MP says:

“Margaret Thatcher was our greatest post-war leader who rescued the economy from debilitating socialism, defended British democracy from a despotic military junta, and helped win the Cold War.”

3.20pm Malcolm Rifkind MP says:

“She was a remarkable woman. I recall on one occasion she was asked whether she believed in consensus. To our surprise she said that she did. Then she added, ‘There should  be a consensus behind my convictions.’ A good bit of the time she meant it!”

3.15pm Former US president George W Bush:

"She was an inspirational leader who stood on principle and guided her nation with confidence and clarity. Prime Minister Thatcher is a great example of strength and character, and a great ally who strengthened the special relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States. Laura and I join the people of Great Britain in remembering the life and leadership of this strong woman and friend."

3.05pm Lech Walesa says:

She was a great person. She did a great deal for the world, along with Ronald Reagan, Pope John Paul II and Solidarity, she contributed to the demise of communism in Poland and Central Europe.

I'm praying for her.

Lord Heseltine said:

I am sorry to learn of Lady Thatcher's death. The illness of her last years has been cruel and very difficult. I send my deepest condolences to Mark and Carol.

Lord  Kinnock said:

I recognise and admire the great distinction of Baroness Thatcher as the first woman to become leader of a major UK political party and prime minister.

I am sorry to hear of her death and offer my sympathy to her family.

Mike Summers, of the legislative assembly of the Falkland Islands says Baroness Thatcher will be forever remembered "for her decisiveness in sending a task force to liberate our home following the Argentine invasion in 1982."

Statement from Somerville College, Oxford, where Lady Thatcher studied chemistry from 1943 that she was a "truly pioneering spirit that propelled her to the pinnacle of British political, and public, life. We are immensely proud to have educated Britain's first - and so far only - female prime minister."

3pm Mike Freer, Conservative MP for Finchley and Golders Green, tweets:

"Terribly sad news that Lady T has passed away. She brought me into politics and remains an inspiration to this day."

Former Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown says:

"If politics is defined as having views, holding to them and driving them through to success, she was undoubtedly the greatest PM of our age."

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond describes Baroness Thatcher as a "truly formidable prime minister whose policies defined a political generation. No doubt there will now be a renewed debate about the impact of that legacy. Today, however, the proper reaction should be respect and condolences to her family."

Lord Lawson said Lady Thatcher and her colleagues had "certainly saved the country from a very, very weak economic condition that may have been irreversible if she hadn't come along".

2.55pm Mark Littlewood, Director General of the Institute of Economic Affairs says:

“Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with the family and friends of Lady Thatcher. Today Britain has lost a remarkable woman and one of the most radical and free-market leaders it has ever seen. Lady Thatcher’s passing is a great loss to the country and those working for greater freedom right across the world will miss her dearly.

“As any great leader must, Lady Thatcher made her creed the discourse of the age. She felt the public’s mood keenly; it resonated deeply with her and she was able to clearly identify, articulate and fight for what the British public wanted and needed. In this way she moulded Britain into better shape, leaving it stronger than she had found it. The reforms Lady Thatcher introduced, though deeply controversial at the time, have subsequently become accepted wisdom.

“Her greatest achievements were undoubtedly her economic reforms. During an immensely difficult time, she managed to steer the economy to safety by privatising state-owned industries, curbing the growth of government and reducing the stranglehold of the trade unions. Her long-lasting impact was to create an economically stronger Britain and the Institute of Economic Affairs is proud to have contributed to her efforts in accomplishing this task."

2.50pm Vaclav Klaus, former Czech president, prime minister  says:

Thatcher was one of the greatest politicians of our time, in the Czech Republic she was our hero.

Mike Weatherley MP:

“I was incredibly saddened to learn that Baroness Thatcher passed away this morning. Thatcher was an inspiring Conservative politician and formidable Prime Minister. We have lost a great leader of the 20th Century and my thoughts are with Baroness Thatcher’s family and friends.”

Gerald Howarth MP, a former parliamentary private secretary to Baroness Thatcher, says she was a divisive figure but it was because she had such a "clarity of vision". He said her "fantastic" legacy would be the transformation of the economy and the restoration of Britain as a major force for good in the world.

Ukrainian MP Vyacheslav Kyrylenko says:

"Margaret Thatcher has passed away… Together with Ronald Reagan, she came to represent a whole era of world history - the era of the fall of the Iron Curtain."

Former home secretary David Blunkett says:

"Margaret Thatcher was a most formidable opponent, undoubtedly an outstanding leader and,
as the first woman prime minister in the United Kingdom, a groundbreaking politician."

2.40pm Mikhail Gorbachev says:

“The news about the death of Margaret Thatcher is a sad tiding.

“I knew that she was seriously ill; the last time we saw each other was several years ago. My sincere condolences go to her family and friends.

“Thatcher was a politician whose word carried great weight. Our first meeting in 1984 set in train relations that were sometimes complicated, not always smooth, but which were serious and responsible on both sides. Human relations also gradually took shape, becoming more and more friendly. In the end we managed to achieve a mutual understanding, and that contributed to a change in the atmosphere between our country [the Soviet Union] and the West and the end of the Cold War.

“Margaret Thatcher was a heavyweight politician and a striking person. She will remain in our memories, and in history.”

Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, said:

I mourn the passing of Prime Minister Baroness Margaret Thatcher. She was truly a great leader, a woman of principle, of determination, of conviction, of strength; a woman of greatness. She was a staunch friend of Israel and the Jewish people. She inspired a generation of political leaders. I send my most sincere condolences to her family and to the government and people of Great Britain.

Tony Blair says:

Margaret Thatcher was a towering political figure. Very few leaders get to change not only the political landscape of their country but of the world. Margaret was such a leader. Her global impact was vast. And some of the changes she made in Britain were, in certain respects at least, retained by the 1997 Labour Government, and came to be implemented by governments around the world.

As a person she was kind and generous spirited and was always immensely supportive to me as Prime Minister although we came from opposite sides of politics.

Even if you disagreed with her as I did on certain issues and occasionally strongly, you could not disrespect her character or her contribution to Britain's national life. She will be sadly missed.

2.35pm Finchley constituents remember Margaret Thatcher.

2.30pm Gordon Brown says:

Sarah and I have sent messages to Lady Thatcher's son Mark and daughter Carol, offering our condolences to them and to the Thatcher family and commemorating Lady Thatcher's many decades of service to our country.

She will be remembered not only for being Britain's first female Prime Minister and holding the office for 11 years, but also for the determination and resilience with which she carried out all her duties throughout her public life. Even those who disagreed with her never doubted the strength of her convictions and her unwavering belief in Britain's destiny in the world.

During our time in Number 10, Sarah and I invited Lady Thatcher to revisit Downing Street and Chequers - something which we know she enjoyed very much. But it was sad for her and her family that she lost her devoted husband Denis almost 10 years ago and that she was unable to enjoy good health in the later years of her retirement.

Edwina Currie tweets:

RIP Mrs T. A true game-changer, great leader for our country. They don't make them like that any more.

Lord Sugar tweets:

Baroness Thatcher in the 80's kicked started the entrepreneurial revolution that allowed chirpy chappies to succeed and not just the elite...

Some of the despicable scum tweeting foul mouth comments on my Baroness Thatcher tweet, were still drinking milk from a teat in the 80s

Geri Halliwell tweets:

Thinking of our 1st Lady of girl power ,Margaret Thatcher , a green grocer's daughter who taught me any thing is possible...x

John Whittingdale MP, her former Political Secretary:

It is with great sadness that I learnt of the death of Margaret Thatcher today. She will be remembered as one of Britain’s greatest Prime Ministers. Under her leadership, the prospects of this country were transformed and Britain’s reputation in the eyes of the world was restored.

However, for those of us who worked closely with her, we will remember her as someone who inspired huge loyalty as a result of her personal kindness and compassion. I will always regard it as the greatest privilege to have worked for her and today mourn the passing of a great prime minister and a great lady.

Foreign Secretary William Hague:

She changed our country forever and all of us owe so much to her. A legacy few will ever equal. Rest in peace Margaret

2.15pm Ed Miliband, Leader of the Opposition, said:

I send my deep condolences to Lady Thatcher's family, in particular Mark and Carol Thatcher.

She will be remembered as a unique figure. She reshaped the politics of a whole generation. She was Britain's first woman Prime Minister. She moved the centre ground of British politics and was a huge figure on the world stage.

The Labour Party disagreed with much of what she did and she will always remain a controversial figure. But we can disagree and also greatly respect her political achievements and her personal strength.

She also defined the politics of the 1980s. David Cameron, Nick Clegg and I all grew up in a politics shaped by Lady Thatcher. We took different paths but with her as the crucial figure of that era.

She coped with her final, difficult years with dignity and courage. Critics and supporters will remember her in her prime.

Sam Chapman tweets:

I was guarding a door at a Tory Party Conference when ex-PM Lady Thatcher stopped to thank us cops for what we were doing. Meant a lot.

2.10pm David Cameron says in Madrid:

"It is a truly sad day for our country. We have lost a great leader, a great prime minister and a great Briton.

She didn't just lead our country, she saved our country.

I think she will come to be seen as the greatest Prime Minister our country has ever seen.

Her legacy will be the fact she served her country so well.. She showed immense courage.

People will be learning about her for decades and centuries to come.

Sir John Major says:

In government, the UK was turned around under - and in large measure because of - her leadership.

Her reforms of the economy, trades union law, and her recovery of the Falkland Islands elevated her above normal politics, and may not have been achieved under any other leader.

Her outstanding characteristics will always be remembered by those who worked closely with her: courage and determination in politics, and humanity and generosity of spirit in private.

2.05pm Matthew Parris writes in The Times(£):

 All of us in her office called her (though not when she was present) “Mrs T”. We addressed her as “Mrs Thatcher”. Those who called her “Maggie” did not know her at all, but were borrowing a nickname coined by the press. Those who called her “Margaret” were either real friends or pretending to an intimacy they could not claim....

Once when I told her of my plan to visit a remote island in the Southern Ocean she cast her eyes heavenward and said she knew me well enough to guess that my aim was to stand on a distant mountaintop and see the Moon and the stars from there. “Don’t bother, dear,” she said, laying her small hand on my wrist. “You can see the Moon and the stars from Spalding.”

2pm Downing Street comment on the funeral arrangements:

"Downing Street can announce that, with The Queen's consent, Lady Thatcher will receive a Ceremonial funeral with military honours. The service will be held at St Paul's Cathedral.

"A wide and diverse range of people and groups with connections to Lady Thatcher will be invited. The service will be followed by a private cremation. All the arrangements being put in place are in line with wishes of Lady Thatcher's family. Further details will be published over the coming days."

1.55pm The Queen will be sending a private message of sympathy to the family, Buckingham Palace said. Buckingham Palace has said the Queen is "sad" at the news of Baroness Thatcher's death.

Michael Howard, Conservative leader from 2003 to 2005, told Sky News:

"I believe she saved the country, she transformed our economy and I believe she will go down in history as one of our very greatest prime ministers."

Lord Bell said:

Margaret was a very proud person. I got called this morning and was told she died peacefully. Carol and Mark asked me to put a statement out, which I did.

She was the most extraordinary person with a very strong personality.. She was an inspiration to work with - she had a fantastic aura about her.

She transformed people's lives both in this country and around the world.

I think she'll be remembered as the greatest prime minister this country ever had.

1.50pm Work and Pensions Secretary and former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith said Baroness Thatcher was "the reason I came into politics":

Watching her set out to change Britain for the better in 1979 made me believe there was, at last, real purpose and real leadership in politics once again.

She bestrode the political world like a colossus.

This is dreadfully sad news and my thoughts and prayers are with her family.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg:

Margaret Thatcher was one of the defining figures in modern British politics.

Whatever side of the political debate you stand on, no-one can deny that as prime minister she left a unique and lasting imprint on the country she served.

She may have divided opinion during her time in politics but everyone will be united today in acknowledging the strength of her personality and the radicalism of her politics.

My thoughts are with her family and friends.

1.45pm. UKIP leader Nigel Farage says:

"I have always said that Mrs Thatcher was a great inspiration to me personally.

"Whether you loved her or hated her nobody could deny that she was a great patriot, who believed passionately in this country and her people. A towering figure in recent British and political history has passed from the stage. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family."

Graham Stuart MP says:

Stubborn, courageous, thoughtful and diligent Margaret Thatcher did things because they were right, not popular. We are in her debt.

Boris Johnson says:

Very sad to hear of death of Baroness Thatcher. Her memory will live long after the world has forgotten the grey suits of today's politics.

Adam Boulton writes:

She will be remembered for curbing the trade unions, privatising state-owned industries, leading Britain to victory in the Falklands War, and as US President Ronald Reagan's staunch ally in confronting the Soviet Empire.

Nadine Dorries MP says:

Margaret Thatcher enabled my single Mum to buy her council house. The best thing any politician could ever have done for our family. It was with great sadness that I learned of Lady Thatcher’s death. We have lost a great leader, a great Prime Minister, and a great Briton.

1.40pm Lord Tebbit says:

It is a sadness that such an immense figure of the late 20th century should have gone – but perhaps a merciful release for her, from a life which must have been increasingly empty in recent years. She did indeed change Britain for the better – would that there was somebody like her to lead us again now!

I feel that the years in which I served in her government were the most fruitful of my own life and I am grateful to her for allowing me to serve her country in that way.

1.35pm BBC obituary:

She was, above all, that rare thing, a conviction politician who was prepared to stand by those convictions for good or ill.

Her firm belief that deeply held convictions should never be compromised by consensus was her great strength and, at the same time, her greatest weakness.

Louise Mensch says:

There is nothing else on American news right now. Her greatness extends worldwide, so few politicians ever reach that level.

Ruth Davidson MSP:

Very sorry to hear of the passing of Baroness Thatcher. She defended Britain's sovereignty, helped win the cold war, empowered thousands

Prime Minister David Cameron cancelling his tour of Europe on news of Margaret Thatcher's death, returning to Britain as soon as he can.

1.30pm David Cameron says:

It was with great sadness that I learned of Lady Thatcher’s death. We have lost a great leader, a great Prime Minister, and a great Briton.

Harriet Harman says :

My condolence to Thatcher family. First woman PM, a towering figure in British politics.

Margaret Thatcher, Britain's greatest peacetime Prime Miinister has died at the age of 87.

Lord Bell announced:

"It is with great sadness that Mark and Carol Thatcher announced that their mother Baroness Thatcher died peacefully following a stroke this morning."

22 Mar 2013 15:53:37

Margaret Thatcher listed her Cabinet allies and opponents. Who would Cameron list today?

By Tim Montgomerie
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Newly-released papers from Lady Thatcher's personal archive have been widely reported today. One that caught my eye was Ken Clarke's opposition to the Falklands War. The man who was a regular thorn in Margaret Thatcher's side but was then a very small Tory beast is reported to have said that Britain should “blow up a few ships but nothing more”.

In terms of thorns in her side The Independent's Andy McSmith has highlighted Maggie's own list of people who she regarded as on her side and against her. Only Cecil Parkinson, Norman Tebbit, Keith Joseph and Nigel Lawson were seen as truly one of us. Nigel Lawson, of course, failed to stay true by the end of the 1980s. Normal Fowler also appears in the "for us" list but only gets a half mark!

In the list of opponents Michael Heseltine doesn't even merit a mention. Mrs Thatcher's Chancellor - Geoffrey Howe - is listed. The man who would later precipitate the successful leadership contest against her wasn't, it seems, trusted from the beginning.

Continue reading "Margaret Thatcher listed her Cabinet allies and opponents. Who would Cameron list today?" »

25 Feb 2013 19:11:41

Michael Fallon launches Thatcherite attack on Labour's failed approach to regulation of banks and the NHS

By Tim Montgomerie
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Fallon Michael NewsnightIn an address to the Centre for Policy Studies tonight the Business Minister Michael Fallon MP will launch a strong attack on the regulatory culture that grew up during Labour's years. He will attack Labour and the European Union for imposing social and environmental costs on business - via regulation - that it was too frit to pay for itself, via taxation. He will say that regulation must become a last resort because it distracts businesses from their first task of creating wealth and jobs and forces them to devote scarce time and resources to compliance. Worst of all, he'll argue, the compliance and regulatory regimes have often completely failed to achieve what they set out to achieve and he'll focus on banking and NHS regulation to substantiate his argument.

On banking regulation Mr Fallon will say:

"Despite employing 2,600 people and an annual budget of £300 million, [the Financial Services Authority] failed to spot the risks the banks were taking and to restrict excessive leverage.  Despite thousands of pages of guidance, it ended up losing five of the ten big banks entrusted to its supervision. The subsequent fallout imposed massive costs - on UK taxpayers and on our economy.  It left our generation with a legacy of debt, public and private; it almost fatally weakened and unbalanced our economy. And all this in the name of regulation."

Continue reading "Michael Fallon launches Thatcherite attack on Labour's failed approach to regulation of banks and the NHS" »

17 Dec 2012 08:28:30

The unhappy Tory family mustn't turn on itself

By Tim Montgomerie
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Circular firing squad

Exhibit A: "Having been an office holder in the Conservative party for fifty-three years, I find it difficult to remember a time when the party’s leader in government failed consistently to chime with the natural instincts of our supporters." From Brian Binley MP.

Exhibit B: "I’ve always wanted to believe that “better inside the tent” was a sensible approach to the Rabid Right and that the Conservative Party had a social duty to house, sedate and, so far as possible, neutralise the irreconcilist elements on its side of the spectrum: a sort of care-in-the-community role... How much tolerance should the party’s leadership show (and how much attention should commentators give) to MPs whose mandate has been centrist, who would not have been elected except to a centrist party, but who spend time between elections chucking rocks at the very moderation that brings in their vote? Challenged, they have the cheek to growl and whimper about “the party’s instincts”. That their tiny claimed sounding-board for these instincts (a panel of typically less than 100 serious activists) should echo their own views is unsurprising, given that the local MP has spent a career repelling from party membership anyone under 70 who isn’t a spittle-flecked, obsessively anti-European, immigrant-hating social and cultural reactionary." From Matthew Parris in The Times (£).

Continue reading "The unhappy Tory family mustn't turn on itself" »

15 Nov 2012 14:47:39

The wisdom of Alistair McAlpine - a man who, in two senses, lives well

By Paul Goodman
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Margaret Thatcher's wronged former party Treasurer went on the World at One today. His interviewer, Becky Milligan, quoted Boris's Daily Telegraph article of earlier this week, which said that to call someone a paedophile is to "consign them to the lowest circle of hell - and while they're still alive".

This is right.  And as Lord McAlpine pointed out in response, the damage done by Newsnight will never be fully corrected.  "No it can't be repaired," he answered. "It can be repaired to a point. But there is a British proverb which is insidious and awful where people say "there's no smoke without a fire", you know, "he appears to be innocent, but..."

Continue reading "The wisdom of Alistair McAlpine - a man who, in two senses, lives well" »

28 Oct 2012 13:52:58

Thatcher seen as most competent of living Prime Ministers and Brixton's John Major as least out of touch

By Tim Montgomerie
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The latest YouGov poll for The Sunday Times not only suggests that Labour's lead may be narrowing it also asked questions about all five living PMs. It found that Margaret Thatcher was seen as the most competent and Gordon Brown as the most incompetent. Tony Blair was seen as the most in touch and John Major as the least out of touch. The results are summarised in the table below - please follow the colours ---


It's hard to judge Cameron at this stage of his time at Number 10. If the economy recovers over the next few years and he embeds the Gove and IDS reforms his numbers will improve substantially.

> The original numbers can be found in this PDF.