Suffolk/UK: ‘Thatcher puts her successors in the shade’

Prime Minister David Cameron speaking with former Prime Minister Baroness Thatcher inside 10 Downing

Prime Minister David Cameron speaking with former Prime Minister Baroness Thatcher inside 10 Downing Street in London - Credit: PA

MARGARET Thatcher was a political giant that made her successors – including David Cameron – look like “pygmies”, a Suffolk MP has claimed.

Bury St Edmunds MP David Ruffley, who also described the decision to remove Baroness Thatcher as leader of the Conservatives in 1990 as “a disgraceful act of betrayal”, said the 87-year-old had been Britain’s greatest peace-time prime minister.

Mr Ruffley, the last special advisor appointed by Thatcher, said it was the Iron Lady who had set him on his current political path.

He added: “She has been the political soundtrack to the whole of my life. Mrs Thatcher got me into politics. At the 1979 general election she was an unknown quantity. I was 17-years-old and I saw, as most of the country did, the mess that Britain was in. It had punitive tax rates, unions out of control and it wasn’t entirely clear what it is was going to do to face an over-mighty Communist dictatorship in the USSR. This woman set out a plan to rescue Britain from the mess it was in.”

Mr Ruffley said his experience of Baroness Thatcher was of a “meritocratic” leader who broke down social barriers.

He added: “I think history will identify her as the outstanding peacetime leader in modern British history. She was the greatest peace-time leader bar none; there was no part of British life she did not improve for the better.

“She puts her successors, Mr Cameron, Mr Blair, Mr Major, Mr Brown, in the shade for her force of personality her sense of conviction and her straight-talking honesty.

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“She is a giant, beside her, her successors look like pygmies to me.”

Mr Ruffley said the decision to replace Thatcher in the autumn of 1990 following outcry over the Poll Tax was a “mistake caused by panic.”

He added: “I think she’ll be remembered for the ten dynamic years when she turned this country round and turned it from a basketcase into a strong, self confident, independent country. I think the last year and circumstance of her removal from office are small part of a distinguished record.

The Bury MP said he hoped Baroness Thatcher would be lain in state.

He added: “I think it would be appropriate and required for the greatest peace time prime minister in modern British political history to lay in state in Westminster Hall as Churchill did.”

Matthew Hancock, MP for West Suffolk and Minister for Skills, said: “It was with great sadness that I learned of the death of Lady Thatcher. She was a truly great leader and a fearless defender of liberty, at home and abroad. Both Britain and the whole democratic world owe her a huge debt of gratitude.”