'Margaret Thatcher's legacy greater than Blair's', says Martin Bell during visit to Lincoln
Martin Bell, the former war correspondent and MP, today said Margaret Thatcher had “no disasters” like Tony Blair’s Iraq war.
And Mr Bell said the Iron Lady will be “more mourned” in her native Lincolnshire than in Argentina or South Yorkshire.
The journalist, who won the Hatton seat as an Independent from Neil Hamilton in May 1997 and was succeeded by George Osborne in 2001, helped launch Lincolnshire Independents's county council election campaign in Lincoln.
He said: “I was the BBC’s Washington correspondent during the time of that amazing political love affair she had with Ronald Reagan - they just about held hands on the South Lawn at the White House.
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“It undoubtedly helped save the day in the Falklands War. Her other quality was luck.
“She will always be remembered for the gamble she took with that war.
“It is probably the last unilateral war Britain will ever fight.
“Blair is going to be remembered for Iraq. Margaret Thatcher has no disasters like that but the Poll Tax was a huge mistake. But she had this amazing certitude.
“She will also be remembered as the first female PM and changing the nature of politics.
“She was as divisive in death as she was in life, judging by the reactions to her death. She was a political leader who never lost a general election.
“She was not dethroned by the electorate but by her colleagues.
“She was always courteous to me, even when I became an MP.”
Mr Bell explained why he feels it makes sense to have independent voices in politics.
“Quite by chance and by fluke I became the first independent MP for 50 years,” he said.
“Every vote I took was a free vote and it taught me the value of independent representation – this is especially true for local government.
“You need a range of views. What you have with the independents is people with no ambition to become MPs.
“It is communities they want to serve.”
There are 48 Independent candidates in the county council elections in May.
They pledge to focus on local people rather than party politics, stronger and properly financed local councils and end fuel poverty.
The Independents are campaigning against moves to shoehorn thousands of new homes into Central Lincolnshire by 2031.
Councillor Marianne Overton, who is defending her Branston & Navenby seat, said: “Independents are determined to represent you, not national party politics.”