She’s been branded Liberal Vannin’s own Iron Lady.
But the party’s new leader Kate Beecroft says while she may share Mrs Thatcher’s dogged determination the comparisons end there.
She says: ‘I admire her as a gritty lady, I admire her tenacity. But I can’t say we come from the same political spectrum. The Iron Lady is a just a description my brother called me as I’m like a dog with a bone.’
Mrs Beecroft, 61, was elected Lib Van leader at the party’s AGM a week last Sunday. She says she’s been delighted with the positive comments she’s received about her growing reputation for holding government to account over controversial issues like the Pinewood deal, the Sefton bail-out and problems with management at Noble’s Hospital.
Her first target was the Liverpool Care Pathway ‘tick box’ regime for terminally ill patients which has been suspended here after an independent review concluded it should be phased out in England.
Mrs Beecroft: ‘I couldn’t take any credit for that as it was not anything I did. But we are starting to see real results. Not Pinewood and Sefton - yet – but certainly with the health service review. When I was elected I was asked if I enjoyed being an MHK. My honest answer was I couldn’t say I enjoyed it because I was not influencing anything. Now with the health service, we’ve a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel with the hope that things have changed.’
She claims some of the stories she has heard from hospital patients are as worrying as some that came out of the scandal-hit Mid-Staffs Trust but adds she cannot know the true extent of problems because ‘we don’t have the same benchmarking which I find worrying.’
Mrs Beecroft rejects the charge levelled at Lib Van by Ministers that the party is quick to criticise but doesn’t come up with solutions. She cites the example of the National Insurance holiday as one Lib Van suggestion now taken up by Treasury.
The Douglas South MHK has borne the brunt of some barbed comments in Tynwald, during question time. Does she think there’s sexism in parliament?
‘The system is geared up for men. I’m not particularly a feminist. I don’t think I come under attack because I’m a woman. I could be wrong but I think I come under attack because I’m challenging them.’
She says she dislikes the sound of her voice - ‘when I get angry I sound like a shrill fish wife!’ – and has to turn the radio off when she’s on.
Born in the Jane Crookall Maternity Wing and brought up in Tromode, Mrs Beecroft was educated at Braddan, Murray’s Road and Park Road schools. She had a 30-year career in financial services and now, with husband Tony, owns Manx Home Care, a domiciliary care service.
She entered politics because she wanted to see change, she says. She was a Braddan commissioner from 2007 until elected MHK for Douglas South in 2011.
Mrs Beecroft says her ambition is to field a Lib Van candidate in every constituency in the next general election and hopes to increase the number of women MHKs. ‘I live in hope - I’m a glass three quarters full person.’