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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 June, 2005, 22:42 GMT 23:42 UK
Thatcher makes appeal to Tories
Baroness Thatcher
Baroness Thatcher was given a standing ovation
Margaret Thatcher has urged the Conservatives to return to first principles and "get on with it" as they try to rebuild after the election.

The former prime minister's appeal was read out on her behalf as she attended a dinner in London to mark 30 years since she was elected as Tory leader.

Baroness Thatcher is under doctors' orders not to speak publicly.

It comes as Tory MPs prepare to discuss eight ways of choosing a new leader to replace Michael Howard later this year.

Backbench meeting

The short message is Lady Thatcher's only intervention so far in the fledgling Tory leadership contest.

She received a standing ovation at Tuesday's dinner, organised by Conservative Way Forward at London's Dorchester Hotel.

Many of the probable contenders for the leadership were at the dinner.

Conservative MPs will on Wednesday be asked to vote on eight options for a new system of choosing a leader, at a meeting of the backbench 1922 Committee.

One member of the committee's executive said the vote was designed simply to get a feel for which method MPs preferred.

The options include the status quo, where MPs narrow the choice of leader to two and grass roots members have the final say.

Other options include:

  • A traditional election by MPs after formal consultation of party members - this is the option understood to be preferred by the 1922 executive

  • The plan proposed by Tory chairman Francis Maude where candidates with 50% of MPs' votes win automatically - otherwise local Tory chairmen show their preferences before final ballots of MPs.

  • A system where only candidates with a high share of MPs votes go forward to an election by grass roots members.



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See Baroness Thatcher arrive at the dinner in her honour



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