Norman Tebbit does not like being told to get on his bike

Written by John Ashmore on 22 February 2017 in Diary

Watch: Margaret Thatcher's trade and industry secretary bristled at the reference to his famous 1981 remark.

Lord Tebbit probably should have anticipated a bit of Noble banter when he rose to complain about cycle lanes on Victoria Embankment.

“It sometimes takes over an hour to drive from Parliament Square to the Tower of London,” Tebbit observed.

“That is being caused by the barricades which have been put up in order to assist cyclists who also get in the way on the main road carriageways.”

To which one wag on the Labour benches responded: "Get on yer bike!"

It's fair to say Tebbit was not amused: "The Noble Lord opposite speaks very impertinently towards me and other people of my age who would find grave difficulty in cycling on the roads these days." 

But there was not much sympathy for Tebbit’s point from Defra minister Lord Gardiner, who chipped in that "the Circle and District line is a very good way of getting from here to the Tower".





It was in a speech to the 1981 Tory conference that Tebbit told how his how his father got on his bike to look for a job.

The then Tory cabinet minister was speaking in the aftermath of the riots in Brixton, responding to a suggestion that rioting was the natural reaction to unemployment:

"I grew up in the '30s with an unemployed father. He didn't riot. He got on his bike and looked for work, and he kept looking till he found it," said Tebbitt.

His remarks were greeted with applause by the Tory faithful, but Tebbit was later mocked for apparently having told unemployed people to simply "get on your bike"







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