Dr Julian Lewis: It is a shock for those of us who are old enough to have been politically active in the 1970s and ’80s to realise that a 40-year-old MP today was just four years old when Soviet deployment of deadly SS-20 missiles began in 1977. At the same time, here at home, Labour MPs, including a sitting Cabinet Minister, were being deselected in their constituencies by Marxist and Militant infiltrators. I am pleased that the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Barry Sheerman) rightly acknowledged that it was Margaret Thatcher who saved the Labour Party by forcing it to expel the extremists and return to moderation.
To that I will add another short list which others could undoubtedly extend:
- Margaret Thatcher gave the unions back to their members by making postal ballots for trade union elections compulsory.
- She freed the Falklands and, indirectly, caused the downfall of dictatorship in Argentina – something that President Kirchner would do well to remember.
- She secured the future of Britain’s Trident nuclear deterrent, as I trust my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition will continue to do, despite the blandishments of the absent Liberal Democrats.
- She insisted on the deployment of NATO cruise missiles, without which the hard-liners’ grip on the Kremlin would undoubtedly have lasted longer.
- She worked with Presidents Reagan and Gorbachev to secure the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty of 1987, which eliminated cruise missiles, the Pershing missiles and the Soviet SS-20s – paving the way for what happened two years later.
No-one did more than Margaret Thatcher to bury the Far Left at home and defeat totalitarian Leftist extremism abroad. The history of freedom is in her debt, as are we all.