Can Margaret Thatcher be remembered as a feminist?

Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Thatcher

Last week, I took the evening to contribute to a debate at the Cambridge Union Society on whether Margaret Thatcher could be remembered as a feminist.

I put the case for her, starting with the question: “What did David Blunkett do for the blind? He showed that there were few things they could not do.”

Sir Peter Bottomley, MP for West Worthing

Sir Peter Bottomley, MP for West Worthing

I made the obvious point that a person could rattle on about modern feminism or they could make clear that women and men could be bold, opinionated, independent, effective, successful and able to us their talents in every way, regardless of their gender.

Then I raised the relevant point that a feminist can also be alive and alert to the circumstances of others.

Many in the chamber were well schooled in conventional feminism and some thought they knew much about our first female Prime Minister.

These students and speakers were unaware that in 1960, a year after becoming an MP, she had been one of the few to vote unsuccessfully to start decriminalising adult male homosexual acts; nor had they learned that in 1967 she stayed up all night to help pass David Steel’s bill to allow some legal abortions.

|Also in the news - a roundup of 15 of the most high profile criminals jailed in Sussex last month; the council has confirmed it is planning to demolish the toilet block at Monks Recreation Ground in Lancing; and Worthing’s closed pubs – see what happened to the town’s lost watering holes|

Before returning to Westminster, I joined a happy crowd at John and Mei Ip’s Imperial China restaurant for the beginning of the Year of the Earth Pig, 12 years after the previous one in 2007.

I wish a happy new year to all who celebrate.

The positive view is that it behaves, has no plan to harm other and can bring wealth to people.

On Tuesday night it was good to be with Tim Loughton when he challenged the Secretary of State for Transport on the A27.

Because of parliamentary duties I could not join the memorial service for former Arun councillor Dennis Wilde.

He and his wife were much loved in East Preston.

The most touching meeting in more recent days was at Chatsmore Catholic High School, by Goring station, where the Arun and Worthing parts of the constituency meet.

Julian Filochowski of the Romero Trust had previously served as head of the aid agency Catholic Agency For Overseas Developmen (CAFOD); he and I were fellow trustees of Christian Aid.

He spoke of the life and death of the martyred Saint Oscar Romero.

I added my recollections of my visits to El Salvador, the nation named after the Saviour where priests and catechists were murdered, and the times I met with Saint Romero before his assassination.

We were introduced by the school head Peter Byrne, probably the only person to share his honeymoon in El Salvador.

We celebrate his life and commemorate his death.

At the beginning of the week, I was able to give my regular unit of blood.

My plea to be allowed to give platelets was politely turned down.

Apparently my type O negative is suitable for newly born babies.

It seems paradoxical that ‘ordinary’ blood can be extraordinarily acceptable by just about anyone.

There is a special need for black and minority ethic (BAME) people to volunteer. Please consider it.

One celebrity explained that the minor feeling of a needle being inserted reminded her of plucking an eyebrow.

Another said that it is like offering a gift of love to someone you will never meet, truly a gift relationship of the purest nature.

Go online to www.blood.co.uk to find out more.

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