THERESA May has been stalked by the shadow of Margaret Thatcher since taking office in 2016, largely because she is both a woman, and a Conservative Prime Minister.

It is therefore understandable that on her visit to Teesside on Wednesday to formally launch the new South Tees Development Corporation (STDC), Mrs May was keen to avoid any ‘walk in the wilderness’-style photographs involving the desolate former SSI steelworks.

The image of Mrs Thatcher stepping through the rubble of the North-East’s industrial past as the creation of Teesside Development Corporation was revealed in 1987, was meant to demonstrate the bright new dawn ahead.

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However for many, it came to symbolise the destructive impact of years of Conservative government on the region’s manufacturing sector.

The photograph was carefully posed, much like yesterday’s visit by Mrs May. She spoke to the board of STDC behind closed doors on the SSI site, before being whisked away to another appointment, and when she did speak to waiting journalists, the interviews were limited to just one or two questions.

We will have to wait until the autumn before precise details of how STDC plans to create 20,000 jobs on the 4,500-acre stretch of land including the steelworks are revealed, so it is difficult to judge how realistic their proposals are just yet.

It is welcome that Mrs May appears to be so thoroughly behind the project – the first mayoral corporation outside London.

But perhaps in a bid to appear un-Thatcherlike, she has come across as not having learnt the lessons of her dismal General Election campaign when her stage managed appearances proved such a turn-off to the voting public.