Mary Macleod MP Speaks in Tribute

"Lady Thatcher was an inspiration to me"

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Mary Macleod MP joined the tributes in the Houses of Parliament yesterday and we reproduce her tribute taken from

It is a great privilege to speak in this tribute to the noble Baroness Thatcher. We have heard many eloquent speeches from hon. Members.

I would like to make three brief personal points about how Baroness Thatcher touched my life and why so many loved her and will miss her. First, Lady Thatcher was the embodiment of aspiration. She studied science when few women were doing so. She was one of only 25 women to be elected in 1959, when only 4% of MPs were women; now, there are 146, or 22%. Lady Thatcher was someone who absolutely believed in aspiring to the highest levels, and she proved that it could be done and that nothing was impossible. My parents always brought up my sisters and me to believe that we should aim high, work hard, try our very best, give any task 100%, and fulfil our potential. Baroness Thatcher was the epitome of this—that it does not matter who you are, where you come from, what your background is or what your gender is. You can absolutely succeed and achieve your goals and dreams, and it is what you deliver and do right now that counts in life.

Secondly, Lady Thatcher was an inspiration to me and to a generation of women in this country, as we heard from my hon. Friend Mrs Laing and also from Ms Stuart, who said that Baroness Thatcher kicked the door open even for Labour women in Parliament. I, also, was a child of the Thatcher era and was in school and university when Lady Thatcher was Prime Minister. I did not think it was strange or unusual to have a female Prime Minister. It felt natural. After all, we also had a female monarch. Lady Thatcher made me believe that anything was possible. If a woman could be Prime Minister, surely other women, too, could rise to the highest levels in business and in politics. As President Obama said,

“As a grocer’s daughter who rose to become Britain’s first female prime minister, she stands as an example to our daughters that there is no glass ceiling that can’t be shattered”.

It was Baroness Thatcher who inspired me to become a Member of Parliament, and it was she who kept me going when it took me 13 years to get into Parliament. I was told then that Lady Thatcher went through more than 40 interviews to get selected for Parliament. If it took her that number, then another rejection that I received was always that much more bearable. She came to help me in my election campaign in March 2010 because she really wanted me to win my seat. She came to Chiswick with my hon. Friend Sir Gerald Howarth and her presence filled the room. She inspired everyone, from the youngest to the oldest. I believe that generations of women across this country and around the world will always remember her. She led the way, and it is now up to women around the country to follow her example and rise to the challenge too.

Thirdly, Lady Thatcher showed what it was to be a politician of clarity, confidence, conviction and courage. What an incredible role model she was. She knew clearly what she wanted to do and achieve, and she delivered it. She said in 1989:

“I am extraordinarily patient, provided I get my own way in the end.”

She had a strength that was second to none. She had the courage to do what was right and not always popular. She had a vision for Britain and transformed this country. She had many tough fights to battle through, but she held to that vision and her conviction. Her courage and strength were seen in so many ways, and in 1982 she said about the Falklands war:

“Defeat? I do not recognise the meaning of the word.”

Our country will always need more politicians like her. That is why I will always encourage more women to stand for Parliament, people who have a clarity of purpose and a passion, conviction and courage to deliver real change.

In conclusion, we have lost an incredible leader. We have lost a great reforming former Prime Minister. We have lost a great woman and a great friend. Baroness Thatcher was a wonderful example to all right hon. and hon. Members here today to be politicians of passion, strength, courage and conviction and to fight for Britain’s interests every step of the way. As she said herself,

“Where there is despair, may we bring hope.”

Her legacy will continue to inspire not only us, but generations to come.


April 12, 2013