Thatcher paved way for women in politics

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MARGARET Thatcher led the way for women MP’s to aspire to high office in politics says Rye MP Amber Rudd.

Ms Rudd acknowledged her debt to Britain’s first female prime minister who died on Monday aged 87.

She said: “President Obama’s tribute to Baroness Thatcher recognised that: “She stands as an example to our daughters that there is no glass ceiling that can’t be shattered.” That is powerful statement from a man, who knew his fair share about glass ceilings.

“Becoming an MP is still tough for British women, but nothing like as difficult as it was for her. Lady Thatcher famously said that it was harder to become an MP than the PM. The excellent film The Road to Finchley shows the endless selection meetings she went to, the hostility from both men and women to her ambition to become an MP versus the easy way male candidates fulfilled the criterion of selection panels, with their military backgrounds, medals lazily left on blazers, and of course accompanied by dutiful wives.

“This has now become fiction in politics. It is the stuff of fairy tales.

“Fears of the dangers of selecting women were quashed by the Iron Lady, and my female Conservative colleagues and I are the beneficiaries.

“There are still far too few women MPs (only 22 per cent of the House) but the easy assumption, based on precedent that they can’t really do what a man can, namely achieve the highest office, change a nation, was conclusively obliterated by Lady Thatcher.

“She didn’t rule as a man. She rose and she governed very much as a woman. She had a family, children and women like myself growing, up in the 70s and 80s took it for granted that politics was somewhere women could thrive, because that was the evidence in front of us.

“In 1979 for a woman to become PM was an extraordinary achievement. She stunned them all. Lady Thatcher didn’t smash the glass ceiling. She refused to acknowledge its existence.”