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Left slams call for Thatcher Street in Paris

AFP/The Local · 11 Apr 2013, 19:06

Published: 11 Apr 2013 19:06 GMT+02:00

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Left-wing politicians on Paris city council have slammed a proposal to name a street in the French capital after Margaret Thatcher, suggesting instead that one be named after IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands.

City councillor Jerome Dubus of the right-wing UMP party has said he will propose naming a street after Thatcher, the Conservative former British prime minister who died on Monday, at an upcoming city council meeting.

But councillor Ian Brossat, of the Communist-backed Left Front, denounced the move and said the city would do better to honour Sands, the Northern Irish prisoner who died in a 1981 hunger strike while Thatcher was in office.

"The cynicism of the Parisian right knows no bounds," Brossat said. "Jerome Dubus's proposal is a joke."

Describing Thatcher as the "apostle of British ultra-liberalism, who left an appalling legacy for the state and the working classes", Brossat said it would be better to name a street after Sands, who he said Thatcher "allowed to die of hunger with other prisoners."

Several French cities already have a Rue Bobby Sands.

See also: 'Why France needs a dose of Thatcherism'

Since Thatcher's death those on the French left have been critical of the former British PM.

After Thatcher's death far-left firebrand Jean-Luc Melenchon, renowned for being outspoken, took to Twitter to deliver his own “homage” to the leader of three consecutive Conservative governments.

“Margaret Thatcher will find out in hell, exactly what she did to the miners,” Melenchon tweeted.

Given the role Thatcher played in undermining the power of Britain’s trade unions, their counterparts in France were critical of the former Tory chief.

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“The Iron Lady did everything she could to break the expression and the fight of the British labour movement,” said Marc Blondel former secretary general of CGT-FO union. “She wanted to pacify the union movement but in doing so undermined democracy in her country.”

There was also a mixed reaction from France's former Prime Minister Pierre Mauroy, who served under President François Mitterrand in the early 1980s.

Former Socialist Prime Minister Pierre Mauroy, who in 1982 helped persuade his British counterpart to agree to the building of the Channel Tunnel, described Thatcher as a “formidable opponent”.

“She was a great British Prime Minister despite being conservative even reactionary,” Mauroy said, according to L’Express magazine.

AFP/The Local (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

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