Margaret put the great back into Britain

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The sad death of Baroness Thatcher has dominated this week’s news. My words below have already appeared in The Daily Telegraph but I thought local readers might also like to see them:

Margaret Thatcher dominated my early political career.

My father had been one of her first adherents and worked very closely with her in opposition, so it was a delight for me to be asked to serve as a minister when I was in my thirties.

She had complete mastery of her brief, and was fierce with you if you couldn’t match that.

Always much more pragmatic than the ideological caricature suggests, she liked a discussion and relished a debate. What she demanded was for her colleagues to be on top of their briefs.

She dominated British politics, standing as a Titan above the others. As a Prime Minister she was quite literally world-changing. Alongside Reagan she stood up to the forces of Communism, determined to see liberty return across Europe. At home she was tough, decisive and passionate.

Yet she was also kind and compassionate, despite her Iron image.

When one of my children was taken gravely ill she took the time to write to me and my wife by hand.

It was a touching example of how much she genuinely cared for the welfare of those around her. And she did this while she was leading the country at war.

As a young politician I was privileged to serve in her Government. I will never forget what the country owes to her. She transformed Britain from a basket case to a world-leader.

The disastrous economic legacy of the Winter of Discontent was turned into a boon economy and a country that was proud of its aspiration.

To this day I remain a passionate Thatcherite: sensibly Eurosceptic, fiscally conservative but above all convinced that a determined Government can transform this country for the better and restore its power on the global stage.

Politics is often called the art of the possible. Yet Lady Thatcher never accepted that. She would not listen to naysayers and those who said ‘it can’t be done’.

She wanted to know how it can be done. The lesson all of us should take from her legacy is to push forward with what we believe in.

It is that resoluteness, that firmness of purpose that makes Britain truly Great and it’s something I draw on every single day.