Michael Brown

Michael Brown was a Conservative MP from 1979 to 1997

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Michael Brown: Thatcher changed Britain - and I was lucky enough to see her in action firsthand

Witnessing her speech as the first female PM in 1979 was a life-changing moment

A Tory adrenalin junkie with the stomach to campaign on two fronts

Campaigning with shadow Home Secretary David Davis - otherwise known as the Secretary of State for Haltemprice and Howden - is not for the squeamish. The first constituency visit begins at 6.30am at Old Hall Farm in the tiny village of Spaldington deep in the East Riding near Howden. David Jackson, a bluff but cheery farmer and agricultural adviser, is busy laying out a huge breakfast for his guest.

Michael Howard must start sharing the limelight

His colleagues are reduced to sitting, mostly mute, on chairs at the corner of the stage

So who is thinking what they're thinking?

Mr Howard's strategy is unlikely to take him to Downing Street, but it may yield 50 Labour seats

There is unexpected octane in the Tory tank

The centrepiece of the Conservative promise on tax will appeal to earners feeling the pinch

Civil war will break out unless local activists have the final say

I was still a member of the Arundel Young Conservatives when I entered the Scunthorpe Conservative Club on 16 March 1976 (the day Harold Wilson resigned) for my interview to become the prospective parliamentary candidate. I was not on the party's official list. There was a frightful fracas when the Central Office boffin informed the meeting that I was not "official". Knarled local party members objected, however, to their freedom to choose me being circumscribed by outsiders. Consequently, I got more votes than anybody did else thanks to the natural desire of party members to be bloody-minded. When the locals asked whether, if elected, I would obey the party whip I promised only that I would make it a principle always to vote against the party at least once a year.

It's not enough to be right - you have to be political

There is a body of opinion that believes the published Tory proposals for tax cuts are actually quite modest

Michael Howard's tactics are winning headlines, but they won't win the election

He will need to take care not to become the saloon-bar bore grumping about every nit-picking issue

So will Labour candidates put a picture of a grinning Tony Blair on their leaflets?

I wonder if visits by the PM won't do more harm than good, given the way voters have fallen out of love with him
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