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MP in Thatcher statue protest.

North East Labour MP Stephen Hepburn has sparked a Westminster war by calling for a bronze statue of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to be removed from the House of Commons lobby.

The Jarrow backbencher said the "Iron Lady" had been "cruel and divisive" and she should not be commemorated at this key part of Parliament without a full vote of MPs.

But despite the backing of three colleagues, including Oscar-winning former actress Glenda Jackson, three Tory MPs have hit back and praised the Baroness' achievements.

Speaker Michael Martin unveiled the statue to fill the fourth empty plinth in the Members Lobby next to the chamber last week. It joined similar sculptures of Winston Churchill, LLoyd George and Clement Atlee.

Mr Hepburn has become the first MP to make his complaints public. He said: "It is an absolute disgrace and a scandal. She did immense damage. She wrecked the shipyards, she wrecked the coalmines and she wrecked the steel industry. She made one in five people unemployed."

Tories Greg Hands, Bob Spink and Andrew Rosindell have put down an amendment praising "the great achievements of Baroness Thatcher in changing Britain for the better".
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Feb 28, 2007
Words:193
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