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Wednesday, 1 March, 2000, 14:14 GMT
Teresa Gorman: Thatcherite maverick

Teresa Gorman: Arch-Eurosceptic and HRT prophet
Teresa Gorman, who is facing the longest Commons suspension of any MP after failing to declare interests, has long been one of the most colourful, irreverent and populist of Tory MPs.

Ms Gorman was first elected to Parliament in 1987 as the member for Billericay - it was her 12th attempt at becoming an MP.

It was later found that during the selection process she had pretended to be 10 years younger than she actually was, something she believed would help her chances.

Ms Gorman begun her political career standing as an anti-Heath candidate in Streatham in 1974, and joined the Conservative Party the following year when Margaret Thatcher became leader.

I've got a spark of individuality, I suppose, and a mind of my own. I say what I mean and I mean what I say. It depends what you think a politician should be about.

Teresa Gorman
A champion of the free-market, Ms Gorman has long been keen on extending its frontiers wherever possible - while a member of Westminster Council she even suggested privatising public toilets.

Describing the beginning of her interest in politics, she said a visit to the United States in the 1960s was a political revelation: "America changed my life, it was the first time I'd lived in a capitalist society, it was like coming out from behind the Iron Curtain."

Hormone boost

But as strongly held as her free-market ideals are, Ms Gorman stays most rooted in the public imagination for her evangelical endorsement of hormone replacement therapy (HRT), something which has led her to become a director of Aphrodite HRT clinics.

She once said that she wanted to be remembered as "St Teresa of the menopause", adding: "My husband thinks it's terrific.

"Until you get to 50 he chases you around the bedroom but after HRT you are chasing him. HRT keeps you out of hospital, out of an old folk's home and out of the divorce courts."

A staunch feminist, she has often accused her own party of sexism and said the Commons Standards and Privileges Committee was also sexist after it found she had not declared property in the register of members interests.

Ms Gorman said the houses had been put in her husband's name and that male MPs would not tolerate a committee going through their wive's property.

Speak first, think later

Born in Putney south London in 1931, the MP has acknowledged her propensity to speak her mind: "my mother says I speak first and think afterwards," she once said.

And as an arch Eurosceptic Ms Gorman was one of the band of right-wing MPs who had the Tory whip withdrawn for five months by Prime Minister John Major after voting against the Maastricht Treaty.

In the party's leadership contest of 1995, she enlisted in John Redwood's 'barmy army', as it was then nicknamed by the press, as he joined battle with Mr Major for the Tory crown.

More recently she was forced to deny that she was about to jump ship and join the UK Independence Party after her party, which did not explain its reasoning, refused to let her join the race to become the party's candidate for London mayor.

The cabbies' choice

Ms Gorman said she would have brought colour back into the race after the departure of Lord Archer and said she would have stood for the, "cabbies on the street and the ordinary Londoner".

She had been keen to enter the race after the front-runner Steve Norris said that he was in favour of lifting the ban on local authorities promoting homosexuality - a move to which she is firmly opposed.

Standing up for England

She has also been a vigorous critic of devolution and has called for an English Parliament to balance the powers transferred to Scotland and Wales.

Her censure as an MP came after she proposed the repeal of the Rents Act, without declaring her ownership of three properties in south London between 1987 and 1994.

In investigating the ownership of her property, the privileges committee MPs found she gave "seriously misleading and inaccurate information" to the committee.

In addition they said she improperly contacted witnesses during the investigation and breached the code of conduct for members.

Ms Gorman has already announced her decision to step down from Parliament at the next election.

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29 Feb 00 |  UK Politics
MPs consider Gorman's fate
17 Feb 00 |  UK Politics
Gorman faces Commons suspension
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