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Spice Girls vote Thatcher the new leader of their band

It would be difficult to imagine Baroness Thatcher in hot pants, a spandex vest and patent-leather thigh boots, but yesterday that is precisely what we were invited to do.

In an interview likely to cause panic in equal measure at Tory Central Office and Labour HQ, the Honourable Lady was named as the first Spice Girl by the band that is influencing an entire generation of first-time voters.

More importantly, and infinitely easier on the imagination, came the news that the Spice Girls are AGAINST monetary union, over-reliance on the Welfare State, John Major's looks and Tony Blair's taxation policies, and FOR a referendum on rejection of the original Maastricht Treaty, hereditary peers and Tony Blair's hairstyle.

The weighty revelations came during an interview in this week's Spectator magazine. The columnist Simon Sebag Montefiore, 31 and unmarried, was granted an hour with the five women - aged 18 to 24 - after the Smash Hits Awards Ceremony in London two weeks ago.

His problem - besides the distraction of the women "glistening with sweat . . . their fit, bare bellies still quivering with sheer exhilaration" - was simple: How to extract the political views of five women who have rapidly become one of the biggest-selling bands in the world, whose records have sold upwards of five million copies in six months and whose latest single, `2 Become 1', and album, Spice, are tipped for the Christmas number one double spot?

Huddled around the columnist in their "desolate" changing-room, the women, Geri, Victoria and Emma on the right of the political spectrum, and Mel B and Mel C left of centre, the task proved refreshingly easy.

On Lady Thatcher: "Thatcher had ideals all right," said Geri, to a chorus of approval and chants of "We love Maggie!"

"Even if her policies were hard-hearted, socialism is bad - you work for your living and you deserve to keep what you've earned, Thatcher believed. But her legacy was a mixture: dealing with the unions good; destroying the GLC bad."

On John Major: "As for Major," said Victoria, "he's a boring pillock. But compared with the rest, he's far better. We'd never vote Labour. The good thing about Major is that because he hasn't got any personality, he's not hiding behind some smooth facade. He can't rely on his looks, can he?"

On Tony Blair: "We met Tony Blair and he seemed nice enough," said Victoria. But that wasn't enough, declared Geri: "His hair's all right, but we don't agree with his tax policies. He's just not a pair of safe hands with the economy." A spokeswoman for Mr Blair said: "Just because they like [Lady] Thatcher won't stop Tony Blair liking their music."

On Europe: "It's been a terrible trick on the British people," said Victoria. "The Euro-bureaucrats are destroying every bit of national identity and individuality. Let me give you an example - those new passports are revolting, an insult to our kingdom. We must keep our national individuality."

The idea for the interview was Mr Sebag Montefiore's. "It was light-hearted but there is a serious side," he said. "The Spice Girls are influencing a whole generation of youngsters and no one really knows how that generation thinks.

"It was a very pleasant interview. These are no bimbos. I expected them to espouse typical left-wing pop-star politics, with a few pathetic ideas on the legalisation of heroin and some fuzzy thoughts on individuality and community policies, but I found them bright, articulate and with a full grasp of the great issues of the day."