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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - April 19, 1972, Lethbridge, Alberta Manages to retain job y, April 19, 1972 THE LEWBRIDGE HERAID 33 Education groups seek dismissal of Britain's only woman cabinet minister II ll'II IIV Vnk 1____ li_________ .11..... _ .._.._. _ 1'ETER WIUIY London Observer Service LONDON The last week lias been a Rood one for 46-year- uld Mrs. Margaret Thatcher, Secretary at Slale lor Educa- tion and Science, and the only woman In Britain's Conscrva- live Cabinet, In Prime Minister Edward Heath's first major reshuffle since the Government came to power, she retained tlic joij she lias now held for nearly two years despite the loud de- mands lor her dismissal which have come from nil qviarlcrs of education. More unexpectedly, she ad- dressed both (he main teachers' unions at one meeting, and managed to please Uicm bolh, though one uncoliug a min- ority of left-wingers walked oul on her. She announced an increase in the school building budget, an inquiry into methods of teach- ing reading and a veto on the building of any more "monster1 schools for over pupils. Kor this a Sunday newspaper awarded her "three in another she was described i the lady wjUi (ha open mind. Yet Mrs. Thatcher has been probably the most consistently controversial Minister in Mr. Hcutb's Cabinet she has cer- tainly been the most controver- sial education minister ever. A popular daily newspaper, The Sun, once described her as "the most unpopular woman In and her predecessor in the Labor Government, Ed- ward Short, said she was the archetypal Tory reaclionary. Tho immedialc cause ol her unpopularity was her slowing down of tne nationwide movo towards a comprehensive edu- cation system, in which all chil- dren in an area, regardless ol ability, go to Ihe same school. The Labor Government had issued a circular calling on lo- cal education aulhoritics to sub- mit comprehensive schemes. Within days o( coming into of- fice in 1970 Mrs. Thatcher with- drew it without consulting tho leachers' unions or any other education bodies. S'mce then many local authorities thai have submitted schemes to Mrs. Thatcher (or approval have had them turned down. In several cases she has in- sisted on Ihe preservation of "grammar schools0 which se- lect very bright children alter an examination at Ihe age ol 11. For Ihis Ihe Minister was accused ol "elitism" and lack of fee-ling for under privileged children. Mrs. Thatcher then made her- self even more unpopular by implementing a cabinet decision to withdraw free milk pre- viously issued to all school chil- dren between the ages of seven and 11. The milk had been distribut- ed by local authorities; now they were expressly forbidden to spend any money on free milk and councillors wlro tried to do so were threatened with prosecution. The minister earn- ed Ihe title "Mrs. Thatcher, milk snaleher" even Ihe chil- dren, it seemed, were chanting it in the playgrounds. ATTRACTED UNPOPULARITY Kven when introdueinc; a pol- icy wlu'cii most educationalists would normally applaud. Mrs. Thalchcr succeeded in attract- ing unpopularity. She account- ed record sums o[ money for primary school building and hur'lrc'ls of teachers were ready lo acclaim Ihe prospect o[ an end to squalid, sub-stan- dard Victorian buildings. But they naturally paused when limy learned Ibal Ihere was to he no money nt all lor second- ary school building, even though hundreds of secondary schools also had hopelessly outdated premises. Nor was this all. Mrs. Thatcher next announced extra state subsidies, worth mil- lion, for parents who pay fees to Government aided private, schools, known as direct grant schools. Mrs, Thalchcr has long seem- ed to have the unhappy politi- cal knack of allicnating the greatest number of people for the longest possible time. She reflects, in a peculiarly femin- ine way. the aggressive, abra- sive style of Edward Heath and Ihe modern Tories. She is a lawyer, and explains her policies more readily in le- gal than in educational Icrms. She is Ihe daughter of a Lin- colnshire grocer, went lo a grammar school and then (o Ox- ford University. She constantly reminds people lhat she does not come from a privil e g c rl background and lhat she got where .she is through merit and effort. But her father was Ma- yor of Grantham and a local magislralc. Her precise, stri- dent accents recall not only her combative polillcal style, but also the private elocution lessons for which her falher paid. She is married lo an cxecu- livc director of an oil company and has 18 year old twins holli of whom went lo fee-pay- ing schools. She wears colorful hats, has bright blue, steely eyes and a flawless, cold water complexion which reminded one writer of the Queen, and has just sold a mock Tudor man- sion in Kent, with its own swim- ming pool and Ihree acres of lawn. She favors capital punish- ment, and once voted for birch- ing of criminals, hut is "lib- eral" on abortion and homosex- uality. She is a fierce admirer of privalc initiative. Asked what alternative arrangements local aulhorilies cught lo make for mid morning refreshment iu schools, following Ihe with- drawal of free milk, she quoM approvingly a group of mothers IjOndon who had combined lo pell hoi chocolate in nlav- ground nnd had made a profit. The relish with which Mrs. Thatcher inlones Ihe word "pro- tit" indicates how much at home she is in tho present gov- ernment. Determined, aggres- sive, inclined lo exacerbate ra- ther than heal political divi- sions, she lias applied the Healh philosophy of salvation through individual merit lo education. Like several other ministers, she began by taking a series of decisions which seemed to be based almost entirely on Tory political dogma and on a total ignorance of expert views and lacks. But like other members of the Cabinet she has gradual- ly retreated from the barbed w i re pofilics of confrontation and revealed a more human face and a more flexible mind. She has not had an cosy pas- sage. She is only Die second wo- man in history lo sit in a Con- servative cabinet. The other was Damo Florence Horsbrugh, who was also entrusted with education and, after three years in o'f'rc under sir Churchill, was prcremptorily dismissed. She is best remem- bered as the woman who told r'i pi'Hierrfi of Scottish moth- ers lhat a thrifty housewife could make a hambone last a week a filling commentary on her educational achieve- ments. There were fears at one lime lhat Mrs. Thatcher's political demise might be equally swift and her epitaph equally dismal. But last week, with politicians, civil servants, leachers and even Fleet Street educational correspondents (hitherto per- haps her mpsl Implacable ene- mies) all singing her praises, there were signs that the edu- cational world is learning, If not to love Mrs. Thatcher, at least to entertain a sort of mild, Ironic affection for her. She will never be "the warm-heart- ed mother of Ihc nation" some- one recently asked her lo be, but Madame Milk Snatcher may ye! become Madams Vote Catcher. Rose trial adjourned MONTREAL (CP) The kid-1 Oct. 10. 1970. Mr. Laporle, then napping trial of Jacques Hose Quebec labor minister, was was adjourned Monday for an- other Ihree days by Mr. Justice found strangled Oct. 17, 1ST70. Accompanied by one guard, Eugene Marquis ol Court ol Rosr came inlo the courtroom Queen's Bencii because of the i and remained standing for his continuing strike by Quebec public service employees. While defence lawyer Robert Lemieux pickelied oulside the east-end provincial police head- quarters, Mr. Justice Marquis adjourned the proceedings unlil Thursday. Rose, 24, Is charged with Ihe brief appearance. As he lelt he shouted "solidarity with the workers" lo the two persons in the reporters. It was the second adjourn- menl due 10 Ihe strike by the common (ronl of public service employees. The triul was adjourned last abduction cf Vierre Laporle Monday for the same reason. 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