Shropshire Star

Sarwar defends Starmer’s comments on Thatcher despite ‘destructive’ policies

Sir Keir Starmer has come under fire for suggesting the former Tory prime minister had ‘set loose our natural entrepreneurialism’.

Anas Sarwar and Sir Keir Starmer

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar has defended Sir Keir Starmer’s comments about Margaret Thatcher, while condemning her “destructive force” across Scotland.

The UK Labour leader came under fire over a Sunday Telegraph column in which he said Baroness Thatcher “sought to drag Britain out of its stupor by setting loose our natural entrepreneurialism”.

Baroness Thatcher – who died in 2013 – presided over a privatisation agenda during her time in Downing Street in the 1980s which saw the decline of coal mining and steelworks industries in Scotland.

Sir Keir’s comments have been condemned by First Minister Humza Yousaf, but Mr Sarwar urged the public to “actually read the article rather than the headline or opposition attacks”.

Mr Sarwar refused to say whether Sir Keir got it “wrong” for Scottish voters.

However, asked by journalists on Tuesday if Sir Keir’s apparent praise could be seen as pandering to Tory voters, or alienating Scots, Mr Sarwar said: “By its very nature, we have to persuade people who have voted for other political parties to vote for your political party in any future election.

“But let me be really clear, Margaret Thatcher was a destructive force for our country. She decimated communities across Scotland and in many parts of the UK.

“I would remind those opposition parties, though, that it was Alex Salmond (former first minister and SNP leader) that said Scotland didn’t have a problem with Margaret Thatcher’s economic policy – where was Humza Yousaf and (SNP Westminster leader) Stephen Flynn then?”

First Minister’s Questions
Anas Sarwar suggested Baroness Thatcher would not be impressed with the current Tory UK Government (Jane Barlow/PA)

On X, formerly Twitter, Mr Yousaf said of Sir Keir’s column: “What Thatcher did to mining and industrial communities was not ‘entrepreneurialism’, it was vandalism.

“Starmer praising Thatcher is an insult to those communities in Scotland, and across the UK, who still bear the scars of her disastrous policies.”

In 2008, while leader of the SNP, Mr Salmond said Scotland “didn’t mind the economic side” of Baroness Thatcher’s tenure, but rejected the “social side”.

Mr Sarwar went on say that Baroness Thatcher would find the current Tory UK Government “unpalatable”.

He said: “We were right to oppose her then and we’re right to oppose this modern-day Thatcherite Conservative Party – actually a Conservative Party that’s gone so extreme that I imagine even Margaret Thatcher would find them unpalatable.”

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