Row over Battle MP’s ‘Thatcher’ comments

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BATTLE’S MP was left in a tight spot this week after remarking in a talk to students in America the Coalition Government was making cuts Margaret Thatcher “could only have dreamt of”.

A political storm blew up after environment minister Greg Barker made the comment in front of an audience at the Daria Moore School of Business in South Carolina, causing outrage locally and nationally.

Carole Standen, chair of Bexhill and Battle Labour Party, said: “Gregory Barker has demonstrated that this Conservative-Liberal Government is cutting services for reasons of ideology, not economic necessity.

“Our public sector deficit as a percentage of national income is many times lower than it was in the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s and 1950s when Britain was certainly not bankrupt.

“The residents of Bexhill and Battle will see cuts to their tax credits as well as to child care support.

“It would seem that East Sussex will need to close children’s centres as this budget is being savagely cut, as well as youth clubs as this budget is almost disappearing.

“Will SureStart in Sidley or in the centre of Bexhill be under threat?”

Mr Barker hit back at his critics, saying the point he was trying to make was Britain is now forced to make much larger cuts than when Mrs Thatcher took over “after the ruinous Labour government of the 1970s”.

He said: “It’s rather pathetic that instead of facing up to the huge problems that they themselves created, the Labour Party appears to now be in total denial about the deficit and just want to play old style political games.

“I know these are still difficult times are for my constituents in Bexhill and Battle, but the honest truth is that if we don’t take steps now to live within our means, we’ll all end up paying higher taxes or making deeper spending cuts just to pay off Labour’s debts.”