Thatcher memorial library plans unveiled

image captionBaroness Thatcher is said to have been briefed about the plans before her death

Supporters of Baroness Thatcher are planning to create a museum, library and educational centre as a permanent memorial to the former prime minister.

Backers aim to raise £15m in private funds to set up the site in London.

The Conservative Way Forward pressure group headed by Lady Thatcher until her death is spearheading the project.

Based on the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in the US, it aims to promote Lady Thatcher's political philosophy and shape future Conservative politics.

CWF was founded in 1991 by Lady Thatcher's supporters after she was forced out of office. According to its website, the CWF was created to promote and extend the Thatcherite principles... adapting them to the challenges of a changing world".

Its chief executive Donal Blaney conceived the library project in May 2009.

Lady Thatcher is said to have been fully briefed about the plans and has left CWF a number of letters to be included.

The museum will feature artefacts from her time in office such as her trademark blue Aquascutum suits and handbags.

Large donations

CWF says the library "will work to honour Margaret Thatcher's remarkable life, achievements and is the defining legacy project in her memory" [sic].

Ben Elliot, chairman of the project's trustees, said: "The centre will be a place for scholars, students and tourists alike to come and learn about the remarkable life, the unique achievements and the core values of Margaret Thatcher."

The Conservative MP Conor Burns, a friend of Lady Thatcher, added: "She believed in action and so along with the usual statues and portraits we thought it was vital to do something that will continue to actively contribute toward political debates long after her death."

The CWF said that several "large donations" had already been pledged and negotiations were taking place for the purchase of a site close to Westminster. But the fundraising will not begin formally until after Lady Thatcher's funeral on Wednesday.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles, Transport Secretary Patrick McLaughlin, and Welsh Secretary David Jones, and the former defence secretary Liam Fox are among the backers.

The plans are also supported by Lord Tebbit and Lord Parkinson, two of Lady Thatcher's most important Cabinet allies from the 1980s.

Lord Parkinson, former cabinet minister and Conservative Party chairman, said: "This will conserve Lady Thatcher's legacy and teach a whole new generation about the importance of the work she did as prime minister."

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