David Cameron leads emotional tributes to Margaret Thatcher

Thatcher tribute Conservative Party members gave the film a standing ovation

David Cameron has led tributes to Lady Thatcher at the start of the Conservatives's annual conference, saying "she saved the country".

The prime minister was among senior Tory figures to appear in an emotional 10-minute video called Our Maggie.

The video was beamed into a packed conference hall in Manchester.

Party members gave the film a prolonged standing ovation, with many visibly moved by the sentiments expressed in it.

At the scene

Eyes reddened and hearts swelled.

The Conservative Party conference opened with a nostalgic walk down memory lane.

For the first time in years, that voice again echoed around the hall. Trumpeting privatisation; lambasting socialism. Fighting against the unions and for the Falklands.

In Maggie's day - they call her that here - there were big battles to fight. The hall would have been twice as full with devoted party members.

But their numbers have dwindled along with the political certainty of what being a Conservative means.

This is a party still unhappy with the compromises of coalition.

Margaret Thatcher is venerated here because of her political pluck. But also for her ability to win.

As the tribute film declared her the greatest peacetime prime minister David Cameron looked on from the front row, knowing he doesn't stir the party as she did.

The Tories haven't won an election for more than twenty years and this doesn't yet feel like a party confident it can do it next time.

Baroness Thatcher died in April and received a Ceremonial Funeral at St Paul's Cathedral, attended by the Queen.

On the same weekend her ashes were buried, Mr Cameron said the former premier's greatest legacy had been to "save our country".

"She was a conviction politician... she did not believe in accepting the consensus," he said in the tribute film.

"She was a great Conservative because she put Conservative principles into action.

"She knew it was not enough to debate, to think, to talk - you need to act.

Tory Thatcher merchandise Thatcher merchandise is already selling well in the exhibition hall

"That's what she did - she reshaped Britain in a new Conservative mould... she saved our country, that is her true legacy."

The film, which was released on social media before the conference began, touched on key Thatcherite policies of encouraging home ownership, privatisation and the "export of freedom" in the choice to stand against the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

The Falklands war was also the focus of a major section of tributes.

Among those featured were Chancellor George Osborne, Baroness Thatcher's friend Conor Burns MP and Conservative MP Priti Patel.

Also commenting were figures from the Thatcher era itself, including Lord Parkinson, Lord Young, Lord Lexden, Lord Hurd and Baroness Shepherd.

After the standing ovation, Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps told the conference "if Maggie were here today" the policy she would be "most proud of" would be "1.4 million private sector jobs created under this government".

He also cited the 2.7 million people "removed from income tax" - originally a Lib Dem policy - as an example of something the former prime minister would have approved of.

A conference selling Thatcher-themed merchandise is already doing brisk business in the exhibition hall at Manchester.

Items include babygros with the slogans "Iron Baby" and "Little Iron Lady" and T-shirt's quoting: "The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money".

Cards, books, key rings and branded beer are also available to buy.

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