Margaret Thatcher death: Merseyside reaction

Margaret Thatcher
Image caption Margaret Thatcher has been called a "great leader" but one who introduced "draconian laws"

Margaret Thatcher transformed Britain during her time as UK prime minister, a Chester Conservative MP has said.

Stephen Moseley said: "We have lost a great leader of the Conservative Party and a great prime minister."

However, Baroness Thatcher, who has died aged 87 after suffering a stroke, was a divisive figure on Merseyside.

Tony Mulhearn, a former leading member of Liverpool City Council, said she inflicted "catastrophic damage" on the working class.

Mr Mulhearn, who clashed with Thatcher's government in the late 1980s, said: "An elected dictatorship, that is what it was like to negotiate with Thatcher's government.

"I am sorry she has died because I wanted her to live another 100 years so she could witness the rebirth of socialism in Britain.

'Outstanding achievements'

"On the other hand it is totally without regret, I think the damage she inflicted on the working class was catastrophic."

He said her cabinet's policies proved to be a "catastrophe" for the "overwhelming majority", but very beneficial to the "already very rich".

Mr Mulhearn added: "She came to power on the basis of handing power back to local authorities, in fact the opposite happened.

"She got all the power for herself, plus she introduced the most draconian trade union laws in history."

But Tony Caldeira, chairman of the Liverpool Conservatives, said the country should remember Baroness Thatcher's achievements.

He said: "I think it is a very sad day, I think the Queen is right. It is a very unfortunate day for the country and I hope she gets a state funeral.

"You have to remember some of her outstanding achievements, where as the first woman prime minster, she reversed Britain's relative post-war decline and helped end the Cold War.

"Love her or hate her, you can't help but admire her achievements and in most cases she got what she wanted."

Former trade unionist Joe Bennett said: "I don't think anyone in Kirkby will be mourning Mrs Thatcher."

'Still reeling'

He said many people in the town will still remember her visit to Merseyside in 1989, which coincided with the closure of the Bird's Eye factory with the loss of 1,000 jobs.

"They were announcing that we had lost our jobs while she has holding a press conference at the Pier Head in Liverpool," said Mr Bennett, who was a union official at the plant.

But Sir Malcolm Thornton, former Conservative MP for Liverpool Garston and later Crosby, denied that Mrs Thatcher did not like Liverpool.

"Liverpool was part and parcel of the Britain she cared about and wanted to change in a fundamental way," he said.

Steve Rotheram, Labour MP for Liverpool Walton, said Baroness Thatcher "will leave behind a Liverpool and a Britain that is still reeling from her eleven-and-a-half years in office and divided on her legacy.

"People in Liverpool always felt that Mrs Thatcher would have liked to have cut us off from the mainland and left us floating in the Irish Sea."

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