Fighting talk on schools
“No change at all. We shall fight compulsory comprehensives,” Mrs. Margaret Thatcher, the new Opposition spokesman on Education, fair-haired, attractive, and gaily dressed in a vivid emerald suit, was answering yet another Press inquiry on a telephone which hardly stopped ringing. Between calls, I asked Mrs. Thatcher what she thought of comprehensive education in general (writes Laura Kaufman).
“I have no objection to proper comprehensive schools, they have a significant part to play. But there are a large number of grammar schools which have given a marvellous service, and I shall fight to retain them.”
Her first task as Opposition spokesman will be to fight Mr. Short 's proposed Bill to compel local authorities to submit comprehensive schemes, which will be announced in the Queen's speech on October 28.
Conservatives who are looking to Mrs. Thatcher to take a “tougher” line than Sir Edward Boyle (the new Vice-Chancellor of Leeds University) will be disappointed. “I'm not a reactionary,” she says disarmingly, “You don't withdraw students' grants for rebelliousness,” she adds. “You withdraw grants on academic grounds—if the student doesn't meet the required standard—not because of their views.”
Mrs. Thatcher's son, Mark, is at Harrow, and her daughter Carol is at St. Paul's School for Girls.
In her spare time, which is little, Mrs. Thatcher likes “all music,” the opera and the theatre. She is also “reasonably practical,” making curtains and decorating—which should come in useful next Tuesday when she will be moving her London home from a flat in Westminster to a house in Chelsea