A Woman of 'Courage, Determination and Grit'

Angie Bray MP pays a personal tribute to Margaret Thatcher

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"Probably our greatest peacetime Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher was also our first female Prime Minister which, at the time when she first entered Number 10 Downing Street, was a remarkable achievement in itself. We shouldn't forget, either, that she didn't come from a gilded background - her family ran a small grocery shop in Grantham.

"Despite inheriting a country in decline, she refused to accept that this was irreversible and talked up Britain's prospects - when she left office our economy was flourishing and our reputation restored. No longer the sick man of Europe as we had become known. She successfully defended the Falkland Islands against all the odds, won the rebate in Brussels talks to reduce the cost of our membership of the EU, and crucially, stood shoulder to shoulder with President Reagan to help bring down the Iron Curtain and dismantle the old Soviet Union.

"Her example has inspired many younger Conservative politicians, alot of them women who have seen how she blazed a trail for women to get themselves elected to Parliament. We have all noted in her an ability to fight for what she believed in, to stand up for those people who work hard for themselves and their families and to champion the cause of freedom. She never flinched from her goal even when pragmatism (which was another of her qualities) meant a more roundabout route to get there.

"When I think of her, the words which come to mind are courage, determination and grit. Who can forget her remarkable performance on stage just hours after the IRA had tried to blow her up in her hotel in Brighton during the party conference, killing a number of her close friends in the process?

"I was lucky enough to meet Lady Thatcher on several occasions and I was always struck by her personal warmth and that special quality she had of putting people at ease when being introduced. The first time was when I asked to have my photograph taken with her for my 1997 election leaflet. Two other parliamentary candidates came with me and we were told we would have to be quick as she had a busy morning ahead. In the event she insisted on sitting us down with a cup of coffee because she said it was cold outside and we needed warming up! The last time was at a reception and I told her we had one or two things in common including a shared birthday and a shared Lincolnshire connection. She asked if there was a third as she liked things in threes. I thought for a moment and said "well we are both Conservatives" and with that we both started laughing! But perhaps my most treasured item is the letter she wrote and signed congratulating me on winning my parliamentary seat of Ealing Central and Acton in May 2010. It sits proudly on my office wall where I can see it everyday.

"I honestly doubt that we will see her like again in our lifetime."

Angie Bray MP (Con) Ealing Central and Acton


9th April 2013