Rep. Boyle Dissents from PA House’s Vote to Honor Margaret Thatcher
There was unexpected drama this morning as a resolution honoring late British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was debated — and eventually, passed — in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.
Thatcher, nicknamed the “Iron Lady” by a Soviet journalist during her tenure as prime minister, died last week. Her death has created an international debate as to whether or not her time in power was good for the people of Britain and the world.
Rep. Brendan Boyle, a Democrat from Northeast Philadelphia, spoke up against the resolution, citing several of Thatcher’s foreign and domestic policies — including her once having called South African president Nelson Mandela a terrorist.
Philadelphia Weekly spoke with Boyle shortly after the vote, in which he was joined by 47 of his House colleagues against the Thatcher honorary resolution. “While I certainly mean no disrespect for the recently deceased,” he says, “I do think it was wrong for the Pennsylvania House to unabashedly honor Margaret Thatcher, as the resolution did, when she engaged in so many destructive policies. Her support, for example, of the apartheid regime in South Africa; some of the statements she made about Nelson Mandela; her destructive, cold and callous policies in Northern Ireland, which contributed to much bloodshed; her support for other dictatorial regimes, like Pinochet, the Khymer Rouge; they were all reasons for me to voice my opposition to the resolution.”
The resolution notes, in part: “Mrs. Thatcher is widely credited with reshaping Britain’s policies and transforming the country’s economy; and … Mrs. Thatcher’s profound rejection of Communism … cemented a close relationship with President Ronald Reagan … while still earning the respect of Mikhail S. Gorbachev.” Some of those in support noted the resolution was not to say that Thatcher was a flawless person — but that she stood with the United States when it was not easy to do so. Of course, Thatcher is also well known for having broken up unions and privatized industry during her time in charge. Her battle to close coal mines in 1984 and 1985 was called “one of her hallmarks” by the New York Times today.
The resolution passed 146-48. Boyle tells PW he was pleasantly surprised so many of his colleagues voted “nay” with him. “You’ve seen some of the protests and such since her passing by people who, still, to this day, are in opposition to those policies and what she did,” says Boyle. “Now, I wouldn’t support engaging in protest or parties because someone has passed away. I’m not comfortable with that. But nor am I comfortable with the other extreme — in passing a resolution completely praising her without mentioning a number of serious reservations.”
Boyle, who represents parts of Northeast Philadelphia, is running for U.S. Congress in the 13th District to replace Rep. Allyson Schwartz. He was recently endorsed for the seat by U.S. Rep. Bob Brady.
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