In a recent post on Lords of the Blog, I drew attention to the impending retirement of three women peers. They included Baroness Knight of Collingtree, who before entering the Lords had, as Jill Knight, been MP for Birmingham Edgbaston. Yesterday, I attended a lunch to mark her fifty years in Parliament. For almost eighteen of those fifty years, she has shared an office with yours truly.
The guest speaker was former PM Sir John Major, who explained that he would not have become an MP had it not been for her willingness to support him in his attempt to get on the candidates’ list. To get on the list, he needed the support of a Conservative MP. As a councillor in Brixton, he noted there were not many local Conservative MPs that he could approach! He therefore asked Jill Knight, who he had met while canvassing, if she would sponsor him. He recorded how much he had reason to be grateful to her. He did say that political opponents may not be quite so grateful.
Baroness Knight retires from the House on 24 March.