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Bernard Jenkin MP: It was an election night of mixed emotions in the Jenkin household in 1979

Maggie at 30
JENKIN-BERNARD Bernard Jenkin has been a Conservative MP since 1992, but at the 1979 general election, he was a 20-year-old on his gap year working as an aide to a Tory MP, whilst his father, Patrick Jenkin, was re-elected for Wanstead and Woodford that night and appointed to Margaret Thatcher's first Cabinet.

I was Hugh Rossi's election aide in 1979, during my gap year, and first met Mrs T when she called in to address the party workers at the Hornsey Conservatives, just a few days before polling day.

At the Hornsey count, when Hugh got his biggest ever majority, over Red Ted Knight (election agent, one Jeremy Corbyn, now MP) we knew we were winning. I got home (near Highgate) around 3am to find my mother back from the Wanstead and Woodford count and watching the results on TV (MP father gone broadcasting).

We went to let the dog out, and found that that burglars had taken advantage of election night. In fact, Mother must have disturbed them when she had got back. They must have escaped with her jewellery and a silver mantle clock through the garden as she unwittingly surprised them. "Not a night of unalloyed joy for you", Robin Day commented as he introduced Father on the BBC.

Nevertheless, the first time Mrs T was pictured with Giscard, Carter et al for some forthcoming summit, we all knew the world had changed. Father disappeared into the world of red boxes as Secretary of State for Health and Social Security. I left for a job on race horse stables in the South West of France.

Lord Hurd, Eric Pickles and John Bercow have already provided their recollections of the 1979 election, and several others will follow during the course of the day.


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