Widdecombe reveals her Thatcherite credentials
Friday 19 March 1993
Her uncompromising appearance on the BBC Today programme showed she could hold the line under fire; it sounded as if the Thatcher era had been born again, as though 'gunboat' diplomacy had been adopted by the Department of Social Security to see off the whingers.
Miss Widdecombe, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Social Security, appeared to be speaking the same language as Michael Portillo, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, who had told MPs that those in need would be protected against the effect on the Retail Price Index and nothing more. 'Why is it special? There is a rise in prices and that rise in prices will be reflected in the RPI and that itself is the basis for our ordinary uprating . . . I don't think something has happened which is so out of the ordinary that we in social security do not have the ordinary means of addressing it,' Miss Widdecombe said.
But, at 1pm, the line had changed again. Peter Lilley, the Secretary of State for Social Security, made it clear additional help would be given.
Colleagues say Miss Widdecombe is a no-nonsense minister, bustling, business-like and a believer in Thatcherite supply side economics. 'But she isn't hard-hearted - far from it,' one Whitehall insider said. 'She's very bright. In fact, there's a good mix between Ann and Peter on the right of the party, and Nick Scott (Minister of State) and Alistair Burt (Under-Secretary) on the left. They all get on very well.'
Miss Widdecombe, 45, elected for Maidstone in 1987, was a backbench fighter for the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child, which has campaigned for tighter abortion laws, and a member of the Church of England until she announced she was leaving over the ordination of women. She is observing Lent by abstaining from morning coffee.
Educated at Oxford, the daughter of a former defence chief, Miss Widdecombe includes researching Charles II's escape among her recreations. Yesterday, after her radio appearance, the Cabinet agreed its own escape route.
International Women's Day 2014: The shocking statistics that show why it is still so important
Singapore sting: Sky-high prices are pushing locals to the edge of affordability
International Women’s Day: 'When a man gives his opinion, he's a man. When a woman gives her opinion, she's a bitch' - feminist quotes from female icons to inspire you
International Women's Day 2014: Cherie Blair - ‘Today is a chance to see how far we still have to go’
Dead woman's body found sitting in a car after six years after direct debits ran $54,000 bank account dry
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
Ukraine crisis: Russia dismisses '3am ultimatum' as 'total nonsense'
If you're horrified by a flame-roasted dog, you should be shocked at a hog roast
Poor 'live like animals' says Boris's privately educated sister after going on 'poverty safari'
White people become less racist just by moving to more diverse areas, study finds
Exclusive: Impact of immigrants on British workers ‘negligible’
- 1 International Women's Day 2014: The shocking statistics that show why it is still so important
- 2 Orgasm machine to deliver climax at the push of a button
- 3 Singapore sting: Sky-high prices are pushing locals to the edge of affordability
- 4 Liam Neeson turned down James Bond role because late wife Natasha Richardson said she wouldn't marry him if he took it
- 5 Dead woman's body found sitting in a car after six years after direct debits ran $54,000 bank account dry
£12000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: A small but growing chain of boutique hot...
£12000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: The company works with Tier 1 FTSE 100 Ba...
£45 - 60k Per Annum: Charter Selection: Highly profitable leisure brand, marke...
£30000 - £50000 per annum + Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: Residenti...