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banner Tuesday, 9 October, 2001, 15:42 GMT 16:42 UK
Conference Tories abandon Thatcher
Lady Thatcher
Lady Thatcher: Damaging to the modern Tory party?
Lady Thatcher has had her day, according to Conservative members interviewed by BBC News Online at the party's annual conference in Blackpool.

They agree with party vice-chairman Gary Streeter, who has urged new leader Iain Duncan Smith to drop the Tories' attachment to Thatcherism.

James Cutts is chairman of the Grantham and Stamford branch of the Tory youth wing - now known as Conservative Future - which Baroness Thatcher once led before her rise to the top.

James Cutts
James Cutts said the world had changed since Lady Thatcher's time
But now Lady Thatcher is "damaging" for the party, he said.

"We need to stop linking the Conservative Party of today with Thatcher, whether we think what she did was good or bad.

"We shouldn't be talking about the past when what we are and need to be doing is looking forward.

"There are things we can learn but the world is changing and we need changing policies to match."

Jeremy Christie, treasurer of St Albans Conservative Association, was clear that as prime minister Lady Thatcher "gave a lot to the country and the Conservative Party".

Jeremy Christie
Jeremy Christie: Tories need to appeal to young
"But times have moved forward and at the moment we have obviously got to feel the pulse of the nation, especially the young.

"They don't see her the same way as the older generation and we have to reflect that."

However, he added that he did not agree with those calling for the Tories to now try and occupy the centre ground of British politics, which Labour and the Liberal Democrats had already done.

A similar view was expressed by Diana Borrett, chairman of the West Dorset Conservative Women's constituency committee.

Diana Borrett
Diana Borrett said Lady Thatcher was "wonderful" in her day
"Mrs Thatcher was wonderful in her day but I think the party has got to move forward and do its own thing.

"The world order is now very different and something new is needed now from the Conservatives."

One advantage of being in opposition, she went on, was that it gave them the time to formulate credible and popular alternative policies.

William Wearmouth, from Leeds University's Conservative Future group, was particularly critical of Lady Thatcher's controversial comments last week on British Muslim reaction to the 11 September terrorist attacks in the United States.

William Wearmouth
William Wearmouth: Lady Thatcher should move off scene
"I thought her comments about not hearing enough condemnation from 'Muslim priests' were absolutely disgraceful," he said.

She "undoubtedly" achieved much in her time but now the Conservatives had "slain the socialist dragon", they had to move on to fresh ground.

"It's about time she moved off the scene gracefully," he added.

Ian Scott
Ian Scott said Lady Thatcher was like an outspoken mother-in-law
Ian Scott, from Clwyd West, said Lady Thatcher's looming presence over the party was like having an outspoken mother-in-law or grandmother around a family.

"What she has to offer and what she does offer are two different things.

"Some of her contributions are unhelpful but it's something we have to deal with."

John Wilkin, from the Holborn and St Pancras branch in London, said like many in the party he was a "great fan" of Lady Thatcher and had joined when she was leader.

John Wilkin
John Wilkin: Iain Duncan Smith should be his own man
"I think what we have got to look at is what she was in 1975, when she became leader, rather than what she is saying now.

"She had new, fresh ideas that revolutionised the party and went on to revolutionise the country.

"What we're looking for now are ideas relevant to the country in 2001 and not 1975.

"I think that's what Iain Duncan Smith is going to offer us and it's important he should be his own man."

See also:

07 Oct 01 | Conservatives
Drop Thatcher, Duncan Smith urged
04 Oct 01 | UK Politics
Thatcher comments 'encourage' racism
06 Sep 01 | UK Politics
Move on from Thatcher - top Tory
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