POLITICAL campaigning reached fever pitch this month 30 years ago - and Ealing became one of the key battlegrounds in the run-up to the General Election which saw the Tories sweep into power under Margaret Thatcher.

The 'Iron Lady' descended on Northolt with an entourage of 90 journalists, and made a point of visiting a family who had just bought their own council home in Ascot Close.

The right-to-buy concept was in its early stages at the time, but Mrs Thatcher made it a controversial key election pledge.

Speaking at the home of Southall policeman Roger Parker and his wife Sarah-Ann, she said: "This has only been made possible by the local Conservative council.

"When we get into power we will bring in a law which will give every tenant the right to buy his or her home."

The soon-to-be Prime Minister then signed autographs before heading off to a private meeting at the Conservative Club in Greenford.

Also pounding the borough's streets this week in 1979 was Labour's Home Secretary Merlyn Rees, who visited two Ealing constituencies and was followed by two dozen plain clothes policemen as he stopped to chat to shoppers in Ealing and Acton.

He went on to address an evening meeting at Northolt High School, where he

shared the stage with Bill Molloy, who was battling it out with Conservative candidate Harry Greenway for the North Ealing seat.

Mr Greenway also managed to rope in the Shadow Chancellor, Sir Geoffrey Howe, who joined him on a visit to the Taylor Woodrow training centre in Greenford.

The momentum behind Mrs Thatcher and the Tories proved too great for Labour to cling on, and Mr Molloy, who had represented the area since 1964, lost out to his opponent.

Mr Greenway then beat all challengers to his Ealing North seat until 1997, when Steve Pound took over as Labour again came to power.