Rachel Reeves: I was influenced by Margaret Thatcher

The Labour politician and shadow chancellor of the exchequer said it would be ‘foolish not to recognise’ Thatcher’s influence on a generation of women

Maira Butt
Sunday 05 November 2023 14:51 GMT
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Rachel Reeves says Labour will 'rebuild' Britain's economy after 'wreckage of Tory misrule'

Dressed in a blue suit and sharp bob at the recent Labour party conference, Rachel Reeves spoke of an “iron-clad” fiscal policy — prompting inevitable comparisons between Reeves and Margaret Thatcher.

The Labour politician has now acknowledged the influence the Iron Lady has had on her own formation as a political figure, saying her generation of women would be “foolish” not to recognise the impact she had on paving the way for women.

“My generation of women, of course we have been influenced by her,” the shadow chancellor of the exchequer told the Mail on Sunday.

“Whether you agree with her or not, she smashed glass ceilings and shifted the boundaries. You’d be foolish not to recognise that.”

Reeves was just three months old when Thatcher came into power.

The acknowledgement has further emphasised her cross-party appeal after Tory titan and former chancellor Ken Clarke praised her “responsible” economics on Friday, admitting he’d been impressed by Reeves.

“Whether you agree with her or not, she smashed glass ceilings and shifted the boundaries,” Reeves said of Thatcher

However, he stopped short of endorsing her fellow party members as he went on to express concerns about the rest of Labour saying: “It’s her party that worries me.”

The former governor of the Bank of England has also endorsed Labour, gushing that it was “beyond time” Reeves ran the UK economy in a Labour government. Mark Carney, who enjoyed a close relationship with George Osborne while the latter was chancellor, called Reeves a “serious economist” who “understands the big picture”.

But it’s not just Thatcher’s career that was an influence — Reeves says she’s learned the art and power of fashion through Thatcher, who was known for her power suits and sharp sense of style.

Although Susanna Reid was accused of sexism for asking Reeves about her hair on ITV, the Labour MP for Leeds West, appears to see the interest differently.

“Female MPs have also used fashion and appearance to tell us something about them and their politics, often to great effect,” she said in her latest book, The Women Who Made Modern Economics.

Margaret Thatcher was known as the Iron Lady for her tough fiscal policies

And Thatcher is someone who got it right, according to Reeves who wrote: “Well-coiffured hair, bright blue suits and, of course, the handbag were Thatcher’s trademark – a source of both appeal and caricature.”

However, she also acknowledged that female politicians have historically been trivialised by a focus on what they wear.

The book was embroiled in controversy due to plagiarism allegations over entries being lifted from Wikipedia. About the row, she told The Mail: “There are worse things to be accused of than copying and pasting some facts about amazing women.”

The next general election date has not been set but it will be held no later than 28 January 2025 as per the law governing UK elections.

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