From: John Dawson, Gainsborough Court, Skipton.
I HAD the privilege to be the Conservative candidate for Keighley from 1975 until the 1979 General Election and as such to meet with Mrs Thatcher on a few occasions before and after 1979, in particular, when she came for a walkabout with me in Keighley in 1978.
She was a remarkable woman and our greatest recent peace-time Prime Minister. She has changed our country for the better in so many ways whether it be trade union reforms, denationalising failing public enterprises and converting them to successful businesses or giving people the right to buy their own homes. She contributed greatly to the end of the Cold War and the break-up of the Soviet Union and, of course, she led us to victory over aggression by a dictatorship in the Falklands.
As a result, the standing of Britain rose across the world. Friends in Europe had seen us as the sick man of Europe with trade union dominance and strikes and this view changed for the better thanks to Mrs Thatcher.
Finally, her critics always quote her as saying there was “no such thing as society”. However, she actually said: “There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first. It’s our duty to look after ourselves and then to look after our neighbour.”
From: Charlie Lawson, Halifax Road, Brighouse.
A FEW facts to consider about Margaret Thatcher as a politician. Even with the money raised by selling off the family silver and the North Sea oil revenue money during her time as Prime Minister, the total tax burden that the government took as a percentage of GDP (the country’s gross domestic product) went up and not down.
While income tax went down, VAT doubled, employee’s NI contributions rose from 6.5 to 10 per cent but the employer’s NI contributions were cut by 3.5 per cent.
She sold our family silver, the electricity companies, British Gas, British Steel, British Telcoms, the water companies etc. These companies paid their profits and taxes direct to HM Treasury. A lot of these are now foreign owned and send their profits abroad to avoid paying tax here.
HM Customs & Excise (VAT) and the Inland Revenue saw the numbers of inspectors slashed. The last figure I saw (early 1990s) was that each VAT inspector recovered £236 000 but the DSS (now Benefits Agency), which only recovered £16 000 per inspector, was allowed to increase its number of inspectors. Does that make business sense?
Her government cut the Revenue Support Grant (RSG) to northern councils like Calderdale and gave that money to southern ones like Westminster and Wandsworth.
She should have resigned for losing the Falkland Islands in the first place, not praised for their retaking at a cost of more than 258 British and 649 Argentine lives.