Revered and reviled - Thatcher remembered


Border politicians reacted with mixed emotions to the death of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

John Lamont, Conservative MSP for Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, paid a personal tribute: “Margaret Thatcher taught me that it didn’t matter where you came from, how much money your family had or what school you went to – if you worked hard there was nothing you couldn’t accomplish.

“She was a conviction politician, and while some of her decisions divided opinion, there can be no doubt that her policies helped to revitalise the British economy at a difficult time, and spur industrial growth.”

Visiting the Borders in 1986 to bolster the Tories’ rock-bottom popularity and morale in Scotland at the time, Mrs Thatcher gave a pep-talk to 240 local Conservatives in Hawick Town Hall under tight security. She told them: “People talk about consensus politics. I’ve always felt the way to conduct politics is to state your beliefs and lead from the front.”

As Mrs Thatcher and her husband, Denis, left the building, both were splattered with yolk when an egg was thrown from the crowd.

Tweeddale’s SNP MSP Christine Grahame added: “While she was undoubtedly a formidable politician, not least succeeding in a man’s world, she should be measured by her legacy in Scotland.

“Overall, her ethos was one of self, not society. Her success in being re-elected (though not through Scottish votes) led the way to the creation of New Labour, and to the rise of Tony Blair, and to the collapse of the Conservative vote in Scotland.

“Ironically, her opposition to devolution failed and the Scottish Parliament has delivered 15 Conservative MSPs through a proportional electoral system.”