Thatcher's Legacy

The death of Margaret Thatcher has dominated the headlines in recent days.


Her supporters have been quick to try and re-write history, glossing over the devastating impact she had on communities up and down the country.


But no one who lived in Inverclyde during her time in office will forget the havoc she reaped on our community.


While she held power, I met Margaret Thatcher in her den at ten Downing Street in March 1984. I was part of a delegation campaigning against the immediate closure of Scott Lithgow which would have saw the loss of a further 5,000 jobs.


Since her election in 1979, unemployment in the Greenock travel-to-work area had doubled to nearly 22%.


One in four men in the area were unemployed.


In Greenock East and Port Glasgow male unemployment had reached 35%.


4,000 jobs had already gone from the yards.


500 had been made redundant at the National Semiconductor.


Paton and Baldwin had closed.


And Tate and Lyle sugar refinery was running down fast.


The scale of those dreadful figures cannot adequately describe the impact of Thatcher’s policies on individuals and families.


The young were forced to move away forever.


Many were forced to travel far and wide for work, stretching and breaking those family ties and relationships, while others had no choice but to take low-paid, unskilled temporary employment.


This week’s events remind of us of the great sense of bereavement and loss that we still feel as a community about the Thatcher years.


But it’s also a reminder of the community spirit that saw us through this bleak point in our history.


And it’s this very spirit and our desire to work together, which will see us overcome the economic challenges we face today.