Bishop joins in Parliament tributes to Margaret Thatcher

Published 10 April 2013  |  
(PA)
Former prime minister and Conservative leader Margaret Thatcher who died at the age of 87

The Bishop of Oxford was among the leaders paying tribute to Baroness Margaret Thatcher in Parliament on Wednesday.

Leading the tributes in the House of Commons, Prime Minister David Cameron said Lady Thatcher was an "extraordinary leader and an extraordinary woman" who "defined and overcame the great challenges of her age".

"As Winston Churchill put it there are some politicians who make the weather and Margaret Thatcher was undoubtedly one of them."

He added: "They say 'cometh the hour, cometh the man', well in 1979 came the hour and came the lady.

"She made the political weather, she made history and let this be her epitaph - that she made this country great again."

Labour leader Ed Miliband called her a "unique and towering figure" although he qualified his praise with some criticisms of her politics.

"I disagreed with much of what she did but I respect what her death means for many, many people who admired her and I honour her personal achievements," he said.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said her memory would "no doubt continue to divide opinion and stir deep emotion".

Speaking in the House of Lords, Bishop John Pritchard said Lady Thatcher was a "remarkable woman" who "strengthened Britain's role in the world".

He said: "I spent the last years of the 1980s in County Durham, so I know some of the deep divisions Lady Thatcher's policies caused.

"Billy Elliot country was not an all-singing, all-dancing landscape. It's almost impossible to find moderate opinions, for or against, on her style of leadership, but the one thing we can all acknowledge is that she was a leader of absolute integrity in terms of her own beliefs. She was an iconic 'conviction politician'."

The bishop added that it was also important to remember her roots in Methodism and the influence of her Christian faith in informing her beliefs about personal responsibility and the importance of religion in public life.

"Methodism was born in the pursuit of justice and hope among working people. It had, and still has, a radical edge, and it's from that edge that Margaret Thatcher drew much of her strength," he said.

"You don't have to agree with every decision she took to acknowledge the strength of character, the determination, the passion, in all she did.

"History will continue to debate the legacy of Baroness Thatcher for years to come, but she clearly defined politics not just for a generation but for many generations.

"Some of us may perhaps wish that, on a few more occasions, the lady had been for turning, for turning has a good pedigree in Christian theology, but we can still applaud her many achievements while regretting the excesses.

"And we most certainly will not forget her. May she rest in peace."

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