Business leaders in the West Midlands paid tribute to Baroness Thatcher after her death – but views on her legacy are mixed.
While businesspeople from the manufacturing sector accept Mrs Thatcher always put Britain first, she remains a divisive figure in the sector.
Steve Brittan, president of Birmingham Chamber of Commerce Group, said: “It could be considered that the West Midlands was hit particularly hard with the collapse of the manufacturing industry, which was not being helped by three economic Thatcher policies.
“High interest rates, the increase in VAT and loss of tax incentives were the most prominent policies to affect West Midland manufacturing.
“The most important industry in the West Midlands was car production. British Leyland and its sister company Austin Rover were partly owned by the government, and had needed a large investment to save the company in the 1970s.
“It is easy to see how government policy was not of benefit to manufacturing. It could be considered policies increased unemployment, but lack of investment was also contributing to production problems.
“So many people who remember the Thatcher era in the West Midlands would feel that her economic policies did not stimulate industrial growth. Some also regarded it as a time when those policies suffocated business in areas where manufacturing was the main employer.
“But the main Thatcher legacy here will be for curbing the power of the trade unions as well as being the Prime Minister who always put Britain first. And of course she will always be remembered for her resolute stance over the Falklands.”
However, JCB chairman Sir Anthony Bamford, who has donated to the Conservative party in the past, was glowing about her impact on modern life.
He said: “I am deeply saddened to hear of Baroness Thatcher’s death and my thoughts are with her family at this very sad time. Margaret Thatcher will be remembered for many things, not least for being Britain’s first woman Prime Minister.
"Above all else, she had the courage of her convictions, she led from the front and ensured Britain enjoyed the respect it deserves overseas.”
As a mark of respect, flags at JCB’s factories were today lowered to half mast and will also fly at half mast on the day of Baroness Thatcher’s funeral.