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Starmer insists he’s no Thatcher ‘fan boy’, saying she did ‘terrible things’

09 Dec 2023 2 minute read
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer speaking to the media. Photo Jacob King/PA Wire

Sir Keir Starmer has sought to calm the criticism of his perceived praise for Margaret Thatcher by telling a Scottish audience that she did “terrible things”.

The Labour leader insisted he is no fan of the former Conservative prime minister and said that he “profoundly disagrees” with some of her actions.

He said she did “huge damage” across the UK, particularly in Scotland – days after listing her as among former leaders who delivered “meaningful change”.

In an article for the Conservative-supporting Sunday Telegraph, he said Baroness Thatcher had sought to “drag Britain out of its stupor by setting loose our natural entrepreneurialism”.

The attempt to appeal to traditional Tory voters fell flat with some Labour supporters and he was mocked by Conservative MPs as a Thatcher “fan boy” in the Commons.

But asked whether he was a fan at a Scottish Labour gala dinner in Glasgow on Thursday evening, he said: “No, absolutely not.”

The comments, heard on an audio recording, were met with applause by the audience in Scotland, where the former Tory leader’s privatisation agenda hit particularly hard.

“She did terrible things, particularly here in Scotland which everybody in this room, myself included, profoundly disagrees with,” Sir Keir said.

“The point I was trying to make in a piece that we penned last week was that there are some political leaders who have a mission, a plan, that they implement.

“Attlee of course, was one of them, the ‘New Jerusalem’. Thatcher, whether you liked her or you didn’t like her, you couldn’t say she didn’t have a plan, or a mission.

“You can say someone has a mission and a plan and disagree profoundly with them.”

Baroness Thatcher won three general elections in her 11-year reign, but remains a divisive figure, including over the agenda of privatisation that saw the decline of industries such as coal and steel.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar did not repeat Sir Keir’s supportive comments this week, instead describing Baroness Thatcher as a “destructive force for our country”.

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7 months ago

Yeah, it wasn’t a good move. I can see now how I took it in, but he didn’t see the optics of the comment given the visceral damage done to communities and we still pay now, even if if his statement was correct. Forget trying to woo the few in the Tory party with Thatcher, lets them stew in their own bile. Concentrate on building a policy package that is good for going forward from day 1 in No10. Attack existing Tory policies because they really are bad beyond belief, don’t say we will need to look at it. Heck,… Read more »

Steve Woods
Steve Woods
7 months ago

It’s too late to backtrack now. His cards have been marked as a red Tory.

This is the worst Tory government I can ever recall in my nearly seven decades on earth. The government are fully paid-up acolytes of the Cult of the Beatified Maggie, even though they’ve done far more dreadful things than Thatcher herself would ever have contemplated.

Steve A Duggan
Steve A Duggan
7 months ago

The problem is the current Labour party is considered by many as a watered down Tory party and praise for Thatcher only enhances that view. Yes, some of the radical policies of Corbyn and the left are not wanted but the party seems to be too centre right these days and afraid to implement any real, hard hitting, social policies at all. It may change once it’s in power and free of the prospect of losing votes – but I doubt it.

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