My Ilford Recorder Column 18 April 2013

April is a significant month for me. I was first elected Member of Parliament for Ilford South, 21 years ago on April 9th 1992. 15 years ago I was part of Mo Mowlam’s  Northern Ireland Office team when Tony Blair's Labour government achieved the Good Friday agreement on April 10 1998. And my beloved daughter Rebecca was born 20 years ago on April 18 1993.


The death of a loved one of whatever age is always difficult for relatives and friends. When that individual is a controversial,  high profile public figure like Margaret Thatcher, emotions in society run very high.


Although I must respect her unique achievement as the first and so far only female Prime Minister, I am not happy with the one sided portrayal and the rewriting of history by many newspapers and television and radio programmes.


The excessive cost of the funeral arrangements is a great contrast to those of other former Prime Ministers Clement Attlee, Harold Wilson, Edward Heath and James Callaghan.  But that does not justify or excuse the actions of a small minority celebrating her death.


In Parliament last week I pointed out that  decisions taken by Mrs Thatcher including signing the Single European Act and supporting enlargement of the European Union are why we now have free movement of people in the European Union and the current debate about immigration policy.


On other foreign policy issues including South Africa and her attitude to Nelson Mandela, Mrs Thatcher was wrong. She cut the overseas development budget. She vehemently opposed the unification of Germany. But as a result largely of the policies pursued by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, there was peaceful unification of Germany, transformation of central and eastern Europe, enlargement of the European Union and the end of communism in our continent.







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