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Government House opens Thatcher condolence book

Flags will be flown at half-mast next Wednesday in observance of former Prime Minister Baroness Margaret Thatcher’s funeral.

Flags on Government buildings are also flying half-mast today.

A condolence book has also been made available for signature at Government House between 10am and 4pm weekdays until and including next Wednesday.

Lady Thatcher died yesterday after suffering a stroke. She was 87.

“For a whole generation, Lady Thatcher defined British politics and her remarkable period as Prime Minister made its mark not just on Britain and the Overseas Territories but on the wider world,” said Governor George Fergusson. “She visited Bermuda several times, including for a summit in 1990 with President George H Bush, and spoke last time she was here in 2001 of how much she and her husband always loved their visits. I send my condolences to Lady Thatcher’s family at this time of great sadness.”

Premier Craig Cannonier said last night: "On behalf of the people of Bermuda, allow me to express our heartfelt condolences at the passing of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

"Lady Thatcher was a friend of Bermuda throughout her 11 years as Prime Minister, most notably for the support she provided behind the scenes to help secure the landmark US-Bermuda Tax Treaty that helped transform the Island’s economy.

"As Britain’s 'Iron Lady', Mrs. Thatcher was a giant on the global stage. She will be remembered for her courage and vision in changing Britain’s political and economic trajectory and re-establishing the country as a major world power.

"Baroness Thatcher was a trailblazer throughout her life — the daughter of a grocer who became the first female to hold the office of British Prime Minister, who championed a path for moral clarity, national pride and restoration. It is a remarkable record. Our thoughts and our prayers are with her family and Britain today."

Former Premier Sir John Swan yesterday praised Lady Thatcher, who visited Bermuda twice, for having the courage of her convictions, dubbed her “the jewel in the crown of democracy” and said she had played a significant role in forging a strong relationship between Bermuda and the United States (see separate story).

Former Premier Dame Jennifer Smith said she and Baroness Thatcher “hit if off like girlfriends” when they met at a luncheon at the Commissioner’s House for the Bermuda Maritime Museum in 2001.

“I learned that we shared a love for hard work, service, and commitment to making a difference; not to mention that we also shared the practice of canvassing in heels and a love of champagne.

“That afternoon at Commissioner’s House ensured that I never again judged people I did not know on ‘face value’. Baroness Thatcher was so much more than her “Iron Lady” image she was a woman, a caring mother, a loving wife, a concerned and involved citizen who changed her country. She will be mourned and missed by all who knew her and all who benefited from her life.”

Said Dame Jennifer: “It never occurred to me that I would one day meet this great lady, and then, when it happened; I was unprepared for my reaction. I liked her! We hit it off like girlfriends! I was amazed.

“She was a woman of great intellect and great accomplishments. Although I admired her achievements, particularly her success in revamping the British Civil Service, we were on opposite ends of the political spectrum she, a Conservative and me, a Labourite.”

Dame Jennifer continued: “I was unprepared for the warmth of her greeting and her careful attempts to put me at ease.”

The Progressive Labour Party issued the following statement: “The Progressive Labour Party acknowledges the passing of Baroness Margaret Thatcher, former UK Prime Minister. On behalf of our members and supporters, we extend condolences to her family, the Conservative Party and to the people of the United Kingdom.”

A champion of the free market, Margaret Thatcher dominated British politics for two decades, but has left a contested legacy.

Her supporters maintain she rescued Britain’s economy, while detractors insist she left the country with greater inequality.

She made history as Britain’s only woman Prime Minister and led her Conservative Party to three election victories, serving as Prime Minister from 1979 to 1990.

She led a crusade against labour unions in Britain, privatised numerous state enterprises and won praise after a successful military operation to recover the Falkland Islands from Argentinian occupation.

But she was reviled by many for some of her decisions — such as her refusal to join a global movement to impose trade sanctions against apartheid South Africa. Anti-apartheid campaigners would recall her saying that those who imagined that the African National Congress would govern South Africa were living in “cloud cuckoo land”.

Bermuda’s elected Government did not send a tribute by press time last night.

US tycoon Ross Perot hosted former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher on his motorboat, Chateau Margeaux, during a visit she paid to Bermuda.

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Published April 09, 2013 at 3:49 pm (Updated April 09, 2013 at 3:48 pm)

Government House opens Thatcher condolence book

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