Mary Kenny: We should all be Iron Ladies
If you want to break the glass ceiling, look to Maggie Thatcher's example
It has emerged that Margaret Thatcher's influential press secretary, Bernard Ingham, tried hard to get her to "soften" her image, when she was Prime Minister. He sent her a long letter at the height of her political career - the mid-1980s - suggesting that she should tone down her "hectoring" tone: that she should try to come over as less strident and bossy. He thought that the Iron Lady of British politics - whose second volume of authorised biography has just appeared - should try to project a more feminine, more emollient, more conciliatory, more compassionate, image.
She refused. She wasn't interested in what other people thought of her. Indeed, from the mid-point in her political career, she became, if anything, more "strident" and "bossy". She affirmed, ever more decisively, her own sense of authority in government and over her cabinet. Until, after a long premiership, she finally fell from power - when one of her lieutenants, Sir Geoffrey Howe, decided that he had been bossed about once too often.
Thatcher's style - let alone her politics - wasn't everyone's cup of tea, but you have to admire her stubborn refusal to conform to anyone's notion of how a female political leader should be: her absolute disdain for appealing to any kind of feminine stereotype. She was perfectly comfortable within her own sense of femininity, but she was not going to embody anyone else's.