Margaret Thatcher: Tributes from Wales to former PM

Political friends and foes said Margaret Thatcher had changed society

Tributes from Wales have been paid to former Conservative Prime Minister Baroness Thatcher, who has died aged 87 following a stroke.

Welsh Secretary David Jones said the prime minister of 11 years was "the greatest Briton of the post-war era".

Flags flew at half mast over the Wales Office and at the Welsh assembly.

Political opponents also paid tribute, with former Labour leader Lord Neil Kinnock saying he admired her for being Britain's first woman prime minister.

Lord Kinnock faced Mrs Thatcher in the House of Commons for seven years as opposition leader until her resignation in 1990.

He 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."

Welsh Secretary David Jones, the Tory MP for Clwyd West, said: "Margaret Thatcher was the greatest Briton of the post-war era."

We've heard both from those who admired her but also from those were very much her adversaries: Dr Kim Howells, the former Labour minister and NUM official, called her a divisive but pretty remarkable woman.

Unlike most politicians she had an agenda, and she managed to achieve it, he said.

Chris Bryant, the Rhondda's Labour MP, said she was a towering figure who was never afraid of controversy.

Liberal Democrat AM Bill Powell said their views differed radically but Welsh, British, European and world history will never forget her or ignore her.

We've also heard people like First Minister Carwyn Jones point to how she changed the 'landscape' - politically and literally.

Communities had changed - the way they looked, the way they worked, changed fundamentally under Mrs Thatcher. Change was hard but inevitable and overdue, say her admirers. Its impact was devastating and felt to this day, say her critics.

You can argue that the parties, not just her own party but the Labour Party, have changed fundamentally, and that had an awful lot to do with her.

But there is general agreement on this: whether you thought that what she did was right or very wrong, above all, she changed things. That's what she set out to do - and she did it.

He added: "She inherited an economic situation that was very weak.

"We had some very large state owned industries which were not profitable.

"She decided that they had to be restructured and sadly the restructuring process did cause a lot of pain but I believe we came out of the process a stronger nation economically."

Welsh Labour First Minister Carwyn Jones said: "Margaret Thatcher was a major force in British political life who undoubtedly had a significant influence on the political, social and economic landscape in Wales and the UK.

"There's no doubt about her personal achievement as the first woman to become British prime minister.

"Her place in the history books is assured."

Andrew RT Davies, the leader of the Conservatives in the Welsh assembly, said: "Baroness Thatcher put the 'great' back into Great Britain.

"She was one of a kind amongst politicians - a truly great leader and a magnificent prime minister."

Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood said: "Margaret Thatcher dominated the political landscape for over 20 years, an achievement in itself regardless of one's position on her politics and the effects of which are still felt today."

Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams tweeted: "Thoughts with the Thatcher family. Rarely agreed with her politics but she was but a formidable politician and a very strong woman."

Former first minister Rhodri Morgan said she was a "Marmite" politician who divided opinions.

'Extremely divisive'

Under the leadership of Margaret Thatcher the Conservatives won 14 seats at the 1983 general election.

Start Quote

She was extremely divisive, but she changed the country”

End Quote Dr Kim Howells Former Labour MP

However, for many her time in office will be associated with the clashes of the miners' strike the following year.

Former Labour MP Kim Howells, a research officer for the National Union of Mineworkers during the strike, said she was "a pretty remarkable woman".

"She was extremely divisive, but she changed the country," he said.

"It was really the very first dent in the post-war consensus. But she could have handled it in a less divisive way."

Falklands war veteran Simon Weston said she was "a great leader", adding: "I honestly feel she would [have been] the best person to see out both Gulf conflicts, certainly Afghanistan and even the banking crisis - she was so decisive.

Simon Weston said Margaret Thatcher was a decisive leader during the Falklands war

"I know she wasn't everyone's cup of tea, but from somebody who was privileged to serve under her as a soldier, I felt she was the best war leader we could have had."

Lord Hunt, who Baroness Thatcher appointed Welsh Secretary in 1990, said: "If only more people had known what a kind and compassionate person Margaret Thatcher really was, then all the comments being made now, on all sides, might also have had a gentler, more reflective and more appropriate quality to them."

Former Welsh Office minister Rod Richards said she was "the greatest leader of my lifetime", adding that she "was prepared to take political risks that the political pygmies that surrounded her weren't prepared to take".

Vale of Glamorgan Conservative MP Alun Cairns said: "Margaret Thatcher empowered people to buy their own homes, to gain greater rewards for hard work and made state industries realise that they couldn't survive on subsidies from the taxpayer."

Monmouth MP David Davies said he would "always remain proud to call myself a Thatcherite" and that governments of the right and left emulated her economic reforms."

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