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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Margaret Thatcher speechwriter speaks in Gainesville about late prime minister

Margaret Thatcher, who was the prime minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990, died of a stroke Monday.

She was 87.

The Iron Lady’s former speechwriter John O’Sullivan was coincidentally in Gainesville, and he spoke about her influence on world history at the Paramount Plaza Hotel & Suites, located at 2900 SW 13th St.

“We’ve lost today one of the greatest peacetime prime ministers in history and one of the two or three greatest English women who ever lived,” he said.

O’Sullivan said Thatcher was instrumental in ending the Cold War peacefully and reviving the British spirit and economy.

When Thatcher was elected into office in 1979, labor strikes and inflation had made the country seem ungovernable, O’Sullivan said.

However, Thatcher pursued policies that strengthened the economy and allowed for the growth of enterprise that characterized the 1980s.

O’Sullivan credited Thatcher not only for her hard work and success, but also for her ability to foresee problems in the future.

Before she left office in 1990, O’Sullivan said, she expressed her concerns about Europe moving to a universal currency.

“If they had followed her advice, Europe would not be in the terrible mess that it’s currently in,” he said.

O’Sullivan spoke before about 50 members of the Florida Free Speech Forum.

Florida Free Speech Forum President Nath Doughtie said he was glad they were able to hear O’Sullivan speak.

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“I thought with his reminisces and everything about somebody that important ... he gave a really special insight that you don’t always get in a small town like Gainesville,” he said.

Charna Cohn, a member of the forum, said she enjoyed O’Sullivan’s speech because it offered a different perspective on European politics.

“I think that the credit for remaining strong in [Thatcher’s] principles was a good takeaway lesson,” she said.

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