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Statutory Woman

"Ted Heath's first task after the 1966 election defeat was to form a shadow cabinet," Jim Prior recalled. "My advice was asked on only one aspect. We stlll thought in terms of appointing a 'statutory woman.' 'Who should it be?' asked Ted. 'Margaret Thatcher,' was my immediate reply. There was a long silence. 'Yes,' he said, 'Willie Whitelaw agrees she's much the most able, but he says once she's there we'll never get rid of her, so we both think it's got to be Mervyn Pike.'"

["We don't want any handbags." -- Churchill College, Cambridge archivist Piers Brendon explaining the refusal to accept Thatcher's trademark handbags with a bequest of her documents.]

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