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Referendum not needed on statue

By Grantham Reporter

Through your column I would like to reply in response to Mrs Anita Selby’s letter in last week’s Journal regarding a proposal to erect a statue in memory of Baroness Thatcher.

While there will always be criticism of Thatcherism, you cannot take away her undoubted achievements and at the end of her term in office there was less unemployment than under Labour in 1979. With regards to the miners, Labour closed down more mines than she ever did. It was their relationship with the Trade Unions and general self-interested economic incompetence that ruined British industries in the first place.

I joined Bedfordshire Police in 1977 at the beginning of the fire strike with firefighters at the time calling for a 30 per cent pay increase, breaching the government’s 10 per cent public sector pay ceiling. Britain in 1978 was in a permanent state of decline. We then entered the Winter of Discontent with uncollected rubbish laying in the streets and even the deceased denied a quick burial. This clearly illustrated that the unions were in control of the country and that Britain was a shadow of its former self.

When Mrs Thatcher first came to power she knew that her primary target would be the organised Labour movements which had wrecked the economy and made the country difficult to govern. The National Union of Mineworkers had up to a million members led by Arthur Scargill.

It was on a summer’s day in Hatfield near Doncaster that I stood at the colliery entrance with colleagues wearing my normal police uniform and helmet when a large crowd appeared; bricks and stones started to rain down on us. We retreated to don our NATO riot gear whilst other officers held the line. Then all hell let loose when hundreds of flying pickets arrived intent on stopping those miners who wanted to work. Riot horses were called in and one horse was injured, but we managed to push the rioters back.

In the aftermath of the riot the Miners were visibly shocked to see their own Club House had been damaged.

I have the greatest respect for the ordinary working miners and understood and respected their right to protest peacefully. I also appreciate the hardship they and their families suffered.

Mrs Thatcher’s government had to defeat Arthur Scargill as he was intent on bringing this country down. The unions try to claim that Thatcher destroyed manufacturing in Britain but, according to the Office of National Statistics, British factories increased output by 7.5 per cent during her premiership.

If you add her achievements in the Falklands War and negotiations in the Cold War making difficult decisions and the fact that she was the first Female Prime Minister, victorious in three elections, she has earned her place in history.

Tony Blair and new Labour who came to power in the 1990s concluded that they could only rescue Labour by adopting some of the principles of Thatcherism.

The Grantham Museum, regardless of politics through its charitable status, has from the beginning been raising funds for a statue to be placed in Grantham.

Mrs Thatcher rose to the top of her profession in both her working and political life and it would be nonsensical not to celebrate her achievements. So, therefore, we do not need a referendum on whether to place a statue in her birthplace.

Ray Wootten

County and District Councillor



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