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Videos: Thatcher praised and criticised in Commons debate

MPs paid tribute to the late Prime Minister in a special Commons and Lords debate today.

While Tory benches (left) were full for today's debate, the Labour side (right) was more sparsely populated as some MPs chose to stay away.
While Tory benches (left) were full for today's debate, the Labour side (right) was more sparsely populated as some MPs chose to stay away.
Image: PA Wire

BRITISH PRIME MINISTER David Cameron led the House of Commons in paying tribute to Margaret Thatcher following her death earlier this week but there was also criticism of the late premier in several hours of debate today.

Cameron described his predecessor in Downing Street as an “extraordinary” woman who had revived the country’s fortunes. Many critics of Thatcher stayed away from the debate but some Labour MPs in attendance did criticise her and her policies.

“Let this be her epitaph, that she made this country great again,” said Cameron told MPs saying she was “an extraordinary woman”

“Today, in different corners of the world, there are millions of people who know that they owe their freedom, in part, to Margaret Thatcher,” Cameron said in reference to the part she played in the ending of communism in eastern Europe and the Cold War:

YouTube: telegraphtv

Labour leader Ed Miliband acknowledged Thatcher’s impact on Britain, telling the House of Commons: “Whatever your view of her, Margaret Thatcher was a unique and towering figure.”

Thatcher’s former colleagues exchanged anecdotes about her strength of conviction.

In the House of Lords, her former close ally Norman Tebbit spoke of her sympathy following the Brighton bombing in 1984 and lamented that had he stayed in office after the IRA attack he might have been able to help see-off her downfall at the hands of Tory rebels in 1990:

YouTube: dailymailofficial1

Malcolm Rifkind, who served in Thatcher’s government for the full 11 years, recounted how life with her “was never dull”.

The former Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown described her as “infuriating” but “without a doubt the commanding politician and the greatest prime minister of our age”.

Among the more critical statements in the House of Commons was one from the Labour MP Glenda Jackson who, in a passionate speech, described life for her London constituents as “grim” under “Thatcherism”:

YouTube: barnetbugle

Thatcher’s funeral will be held next Wednesday at St Paul’s Cathedral in London, where British armed forces personnel from units associated with the Falklands conflict will bear her coffin. A total of 700 military personnel will be involved.

Security is likely to be extremely tight with fears of disruption by Irish republican dissidents and far-left groups. Police are also reportedly bracing for a possible “lone wolf” attack.

There are also concerns about potential violence rose after trouble erupted at several street parties celebrating her death on Monday night in London, Liverpool, Bristol and Glasgow.

- additional reporting from AFP

Column: Few politicians have courted controversy and adoration like Thatcher

Read: 6 key moments that defined Margaret Thatcher’s relationship with Ireland

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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