How Margaret Thatcher beat impossible odds to become the Iron Lady

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London, June 9 : A new TV programme on Margaret Thatcher is revealing just what hurdles she had to overcome to become Britain's greatest post-war Prime Minister.

Michael Cockerell's BBC4 documentary 'The Making Of The Iron Lady' shows how Thatcher endured a decade-long slog battling against Fifties' establishment sexism and snobbery.

It also reveals how she almost quit politics before she even reached Westminster.

And while the battle was hard when she was a single woman, it became all the more so when she married and had twins in 1953, reports the Daily Express.

Lady Thatcher wrote in her memoirs The Path To Power: "Gett-ing selected had been hard. I would be shortlisted, make a good speech and then the questions would begin. Did I realise how much being an MP would keep me away from home? Could I fulfil my duties as a mother and an MP? They had every right to ask. What I resented was the hint that the House of Commons was not the right place for a woman."

She continually had to justify her decision about her involvement in politics, even writing a piece for Onward, a Tory magazine, in 1954: "There is nothing new about a married woman with children going out to work to help supplement the family income. It has been done for generations in the poorer families where the wife has gone out to do domestic work and in the cotton towns of the North where a good deal of female labour is used in the factories."

The programme also reveals that she was so disappointed when she failed to be selected for Orpington in Kent, near to where she lived, that she almost gave up politics altogether in favour of the Bar.

However, she had a change of heart, entering the contest for Beckenham in 1957.

The programme shows how anti-women prejudices - especially from Tory women themselves - almost killed off her career.

Sir John Wells, who became the Maidstone candidate, remembers: "Her chance of winning the seat was killed in one sentence by the women's chairman, who said, in ringing tones, 'That woman is a bad mother'. So it was a woman who brought Thatcher down that night."

Undaunted, she sought the Tory nomination for the North-west London constituency of Finchley in July 1958.

Derek Phillips, a member of the voting panel says: "I remember leaving the house before the selection meeting and saying to my mother, 'If there's a lady standing, I shall definitely be voting for one of the men'. But that all changed when Margaret Thatcher got up to speak. She was head and shoulders above the male candidates and was extremely convincing. The only difficult moment for her was a question from a lady who asked, 'How are the twins going to be looked after?' She explained that she could get home to see the children into bed and get back to Parliament in time to vote. And the lady said, 'Fine, you've answered me'."

Winning however, was not easy.

Lady Thatcher wrote later: "I knew getting the nomination for Finchley would be a fight: it was only afterwards that I knew how much. In the first round of voting by the selection committee I came out just one vote ahead and even after the bottom two candidates dropped out I still won by only three votes."

But at last she had won a nomination for a safe seat.

In the general election in 1959, she beat her Labour opponent with a 16,260 majority, finally reaching Parliament.

From then on, there was no looking back.

ANI

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