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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 April, 2005, 15:24 GMT 16:24 UK
Autism mother may become Tory MP
Maria Hutchings
Mrs Hutchings was in London to deliver a petition to Downing Street
Maria Hutchings, who ambushed Tony Blair about the closure of special schools, has said she may consider standing to be a Conservative MP.

Mrs Hutchings, the mother of an autistic boy, said she wanted run at a future poll adding the issue came up when she met with the Tory leader.

Asked if Mr Howard invited her to run she replied with a smile: "I think you should ask him that question."

She went on to endorse Tory policies on crime, tax and immigration.

Mrs Hutchings, from Essex, approached the Labour leader in February on a live channel Five programme as he spoke about school discipline.

The Department for Education and Skills said afterwards the number of places in special schools had "remained consistent" since 1997 - "what we are delivering is bigger, better special schools".

People's Jamie Oliver?

Mrs Hutchings told the BBC News website, after delivering a petition to Downing Street, that she had since corresponded with Mr Blair over the issue of saving special schools but she had yet to be given any firm proposals.

"I'd like an answer before the election. I'd like the English people maybe to find out that this government wasn't all about celebrity and spin - you don't have to be Jamie Oliver, Jono Coleman or Little Ant and Dec to sit with the prime minister and talk about an issue."

On her political leanings she said: "I have never ever voted anything other than Labour in my life but I will be voting for the Conservative Party because this is the main issue that I'm concerned about."

She said she was not a Tory member before adding: "I'm seriously considering at the next election that I will stand as a candidate.

"I have spoken, although it was a private conversation, with Michael Howard and I feel very much that I have something to contribute. "

Strike action?

Mrs Hutchings welcomed the decision by teachers in Liverpool to ballot for strike action over the closure of special needs schools.

She urged other teachers to take note of possible strike action in Liverpool adding: "Teachers need to speak out and say what is going on in classrooms, when they talk about disruption in mainstream classrooms they've got to consider how children are affected by [special needs] children who are shoe-horned into mainstream education through no fault of their own."

She then went into Downing Street to deliver the petition with the representatives of Pencil, Liverpool and Merseyside parents who campaign about children with special educational needs.



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