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A Portrait of the Iron Lady
Margaret Thatcher A Portrait of the Iron Lady John Blundell Algora Publishing New York .
Thatcher.085’8092—dc22 [B] 2008036677 Front Cover: 1983. cm. All Rights Reserved www.algora. I. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data — Blundell. 1952Margaret Thatcher : A portrait of the iron lady/ John Blundell. Honorable Margaret Thatcher is the Prime Minister. © Bettmann/CORBIS Printed in the United States . Great Britain—Politics and government—1979-1997. paper) — ISBN 978-0-87586-632-1 (ebook) 1. Conservative Party (Great Britain)—Biography. Includes bibliographical references and index. or transmitted in any form. England. DA591. Women prime ministers—Great Britain—Biography. John. or by any means. 5.© 2008 by Algora Publishing. 3. paper) — ISBN 978-0-87586631-4 (case laminate: alk. Prime ministers—Great Britain—Biography. Title. Margaret.The Rt. First Lord of the Treasury and Conservative Member of Parliament for Finchley.T47B58 2008 941. ISBN 978-0-87586-630-7 (trade paper: alk. without the express written permission of the publisher.London. p. stored in a retrieval system. 2.com No portion of this book (beyond what is permitted by Sections 107 or 108 of the United States Copyright Act of 1976) may be reproduced by any process. 4.
Summer 2008 .” — Lady Thatcher.John Blundell has been one of the most effective champions of the freeenterprise economic model which has delivered progress and prosperity around the world. Therefore he is very well placed to explain to Americans the beliefs and principles which underpinned what became known as “Thatcherism.
Kennedy Airport London School of Economics London University Conservative Association Massachusetts Institute of Technology Market and Opinion Research International Member of Parliament North Atlantic Treaty Organization National Coal Board National Federation of Self-Employed (Later FSB) . of E.List of Acronyms ARP ASI BA BAA BBC BIS BOAC BP BSE C. CAP CBE CBI CCO CFSP CIA CPC CPS CUNY ECB EDA EEC ERM ESU EU FCS FSB GCSE GDP HM HMS IEA IMF IRA IVP JFK LSE LUCA MIT MORI MP NATO NCB NFSE Air Raid Precaution Adam Smith Institute British Airways British Airports Authority British Broadcasting Corporation Bank for International Settlements British Overseas Airways Corporation British Petroleum Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy Church of England Common Agricultural Policy Commander of the Order of the British Empire Confederation of British Industry Conservative Central Office Common Foreign and Security Policy Central Intelligence Agency Conservative Political Centre Centre for Policy Studies City University of New York European Central Bank European Defense Agency European Economic Community Exchange Rate Mechanism English Speaking Union European Union Federation of Conservative Students Federation of Small Business General Certificate of Secondary Education Gross Domestic Product Her Majesty Her Majesty’s Ship Institute of Economic Affairs International Monetary Fund Irish Republican Army International Visitor Program John F.
NHS NI NUM OECD OM OUCA OUGCA PBS PM POW PPS QC RAF RPM SAS SAU SBS SDI SUNY THF TUC UCS USAF USE USSR VAT National Health Service National Insurance National Union of Mineworkers Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development Order of Merit Oxford University Conservative Association Oxford University Graduate Conservative Association Public Broadcasting Service Prime Minister Prisoner of War Parliamentary Private Secretary Queen’s Counsel Royal Air Force Retail Price Maintenance Special Air Service Social Affairs Unit Special Boat Service Strategic Defense Initiative State University of New York The Heritage Foundation Trades Union Congress Upper Clyde Shipbuilders United States Air Force “United States of Europe” Union of Soviet Socialist Republics Value Added Tax .
especially in the USA where she is so admired. research and other help I thank in alphabetical order: Clare Batty. Rebekah Nordeck. Margaret Thatcher’s 1967 and 1969 visits to the United States than any previous biographer or in my case hagiographer. fact-checking. Ed Feulner and Brooke Rollins for hosting me. Anthony Haynes. editing. and Robin Sillars. Chairman of the English Speaking Union. Rather it is a very personal interpretation of a very special life. . I thank Lord Hunt of the Wirral. From the start this book has been all about explaining the Thatcher phenomenon to people overseas. Dr. and far more weight to. and US Ambassador Robert Tuttle for their help in this regard. William Culleton III. Lisa Schwartz. For a range of typing. I thank Bridgett Wagner. The book was inspired by the enthusiastic reactions to speeches I have given about Lady Thatcher to The Heritage Foundation in Colorado Springs and in Washington DC as well as to the Texas Public Policy Foundation in Dallas.Acknowledgements This is not a work of scholarship. Christine Blundell. The buzz I got from those events is still with me. The only piece of remotely “original” research appears in Chapter 5 where I give much more detail on. The usual disclaimer applies.
There were not many of us and we know who we are.For all those who believed in free markets and private property rights under the rule of law before 1975. .
Margaret Thatcher MP In her many jobs — the relevant title In “retirement” — Lady Thatcher Should you ever have the honor of meeting her. Denis Thatcher As an MP — Mrs.Protocol Lady Thatcher has had many names. For the sake of simplicity I have adopted the following protocol: As a young girl — Margaret As a college student and young professional — Miss Margaret Roberts As a young wife in the 1950s — Mrs. I suggest you simply address her as “Prime Minister” or “Lady Thatcher.” . titles and honors.
Power 11. Reforming the Unions 17. Opposition II 10. Beating the Miners 16. Elected 5. Privatizing the Commanding Heights 13.Table of Contents Preface Introduction 1. Launching 4. Childhood 2. Opposition I 6. Leader 9. Education Secretary 7. Going to War 15. Liberating the Economy 12. Battling the IRA xv 1 11 17 25 35 45 53 63 71 77 83 89 93 99 107 113 121 127 131 . Selling Off Public Housing 14. Reflections 8. University 3.
Retirement 23. Men Alf Keith Ronald Alfred Alan Ralph 25. Kicking Down the Wall 20.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady 18. Resignation 22. Ten Lessons Postscript: What Remains to be Done Further Reading 137 141 147 155 165 173 173 177 178 181 181 182 184 186 187 189 191 197 207 211 xvi . Dealing with Brussels 21. Her World 26. Befriending America 19. Family Denis Carol Mark 24.
Of the many leading figures I have met around the world she is joint number one with Milton Friedman and F. On every occasion she has impressed me with her insights and intellect. indeed I have met her in every job she has held from Education Secretary (1970–74).1 walker. Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition (1975–79). 1 .Preface I have met Lady Thatcher on many occasions. she retains an interest in science (her early training). A. Her interest in politics is different from 99% of other politicians I have met. piano player. reads widely. the opera and the arts. She is an immensely fascinating and entertaining person. Ballroom dancing was another passion as is music. deputy Chancellor of the Exchequer (1974–75). Prime Minister (1979–90) to her post-Prime Ministerial life (1990 to date). amateur actress and debater. enjoys musical outings and as I write is even pictured in the Sports Section of my newspaper watching tennis at Wimbledon. While faith. both Nobel Laureates. Shadow Environment Secretary (1974). Hayek. family and country have dominated her life. award winning poetry reciter. really terrific company. Like President Reagan she honestly cared about her fellow 1 Rupert Brooke’s “These I have loved” was a lifelong favorite. In her youth she was a great singer.
And she was like that with everyone.e. We used to go as delegates from FCS to visit her and tell her what was on our minds and how things were on campus. I was Chairman of the Conservative Association at the London School of Economics (LSE) at the time followed by another year as Chairman of the London University Conservative Association (LUCA) which acted as London Region of the Federation of Conservative Students (FCS). six shadow3 posts. 3 In the British system every government minister is shadowed by a member of the official opposition party. Her range of policy experience was huge by the time she became Prime Minister: after a brief spell as anything but an ordinary backbench1 MP2 she had had a junior ministerial post. A. This meant I covered lots of polytechnics and other universities as well as London University. 2 MP stands for Member of Parliament. Hayek being less combative and more reflective). She was always master of her ground while being ruthlessly probing and terrifyingly insightful on anything new we might have to say. I think we used to prepare at the rate of one day for every 15 minutes in her presence. My predecessor as Director General of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) Ralph Harris (later Lord Harris of High Cross) often told me about also going to see her as Education Secretary in the early 1970s 1 Backbench as opposed to frontbench. She could hack through mumbo-jumbo with a sharp scythe — take you off at your knees rather than your ankles. She could get right to the heart of any issue and shine light on it faster than anyone I have ever met except maybe Milton Friedman (F. She was twenty years in the making. not part of the leadership. 2 . or maybe alert is a better word.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady men and women and was deeply passionate about making the world a better place. My first recollection of her is as Secretary for Education and Science. three in the Shadow Cabinet.. brief spells in two more senior Shadow Cabinet slots and four years as Leader of the Opposition. As Prime Minister she was a problem solver bringing her determination. nearly four years in Cabinet as Secretary of Education. And you have to be nimble when you are with her. intelligence and training in science and law to bear. i.
” they finally blurted out as if this was bound to disappoint the Buckingham delegation. 3 . Not surprisingly it is currently rated number one on the National Student Satisfaction survey and has been for some time. Some 200 people were standing out there and staring at me as I thought to myself. “Oh. Without pause she perched on the corner of a settee and launched into an exact analysis of the delegation’s thinking: “Now. They arrived and she was not there. Before they could respond. Ralph and chums sat there while junior ministers prevaricated — umm’ed and ah’d — about this curious new idea. Everything had been meticulously planned and at the appropriate moment the head table of eight trooped in. Heath’s first defeat of that year. her great ability to get right to the heart of the matter. She knew exactly what they wanted to hear. the UK’s first private college.’ “The best we can do for you is to keep out of your way. you certainly do not want and do not expect any ‘help’ from my Department. in walked Education Secretary Thatcher direct from Cabinet.” she concluded. I had invited her to address us as Education Secretary but she appeared as Shadow Environment Secretary. My year as regional chairman of the FCS finished with a wonderful dinner in the House of Lords sponsored1 by the masterful historian Lord Blake. The evening stands out in my memory for three reasons. “Let me know if my Department throws up obstacles to your progress and I will deal with them.” she opened.Preface as he and colleagues were attempting to establish the University of Buckingham. you can’t expect help from us. Get the government out of the way! This was her great knack. It was March of 1974 so just days after Mr. “We’ve 1 “Sponsored” in this case does not mean he paid for it but rather that he booked the room — which was very generous indeed as he would have been severely limited to two or three events a year at most. having been called to an emergency Cabinet meeting over the Leila Khalid matter — whether or not this captured terrorist should be returned. From the way she said ‘help’ they knew she meant ‘hindrance.
Later that year. 4 . I was involved in welcoming her to a north London constituency. unreal almost. She was the queen. I explained that it was my job as retiring Chairman to handle that.” she said. something is wrong. My speech a few minutes later was truly awful and totally inappropriate as I basically did nothing but crack a few jokes at her expense. “Oh no. I got elected to my sordid little union job looking after the student bar known as The Three Tuns just a week or two ahead of her. She was running (see below) to be leader of the Tory Party. I was running to be the first Conservative elected onto the Board of the LSE student union for something like 15 years since John Moore1 (later to serve Prime Minister Thatcher in Cabinet)2 had been president in say 1960. lower case “q. and ordered all his top officials to read it and write a paper on how its insights might influence UK policy. She took over. That was the afternoon I glimpsed the political future and what we might expect. with Mrs. Only months later we were both running for high office. This time however it was out in public as it was election time and she was pushing the agenda discussed below. she charmed everybody.” by Charles Murray. She was just superb. It was just the right amount. Why is everyone standing up? Why aren’t they sitting down?” Just as I was about to panic Mrs.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady forgotten something here.” It was uncanny. Oh yes! “Benedictus benedicat. Wherever we took her. philosophically and photogenically perfect opportunities dropped in our lap. Thatcher’s left foot kicked my right ankle: “Grace.” she hissed. 1 Now Lord Moore of Lower Marsh.” We sat down. Oops. On gaining the latter he purchased 100 copies of the famous US analysis of welfare.” She stuck her hand in her purse and passed me some folded money. 2 He served Prime Minister Thatcher in Cabinet as Transport Secretary and later Health and Social Security Secretary. “I can’t have a young man like you buying my drinks. Phew! Later that evening she commented on the supply of wine to the top table. “Losing Ground. She was very gracious on the night — but see below. Thatcher still as Shadow Environment Secretary. She knocked us all dead. you fool.
This led the then Tory leader, Edward Heath, to send me a letter of congratulation. The letter was intercepted by the left at the LSE and leaked to the press. When eventually a full report appeared in The Daily Telegraph it concluded with words to the effect that (unfortunately for Mr. Heath) Mr. Blundell was already working hard for Mrs. Thatcher. The day she became leader of the Conservative Party I introduced a motion of congratulation in the LSE student union — of course it was defeated. When she was Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition I met her several times on various issues. The first time was when, soon after she became Leader, she inherited from Ted Heath the task of addressing the LUCA annual dinner for the second year running. She glanced to her right, down the top table, spotted me and started her speech by saying she hoped this was the London University Conservative Association and not the London University Comedians’ Association! Ouch! Squashed! We often went to see her prior to 1979. I report below on her response to my idea that we give all public housing units away to sitting tenants. At that same dinner one of my chums (let’s call him Peter — he ended up in Cabinet) said that she was putting too much emphasis on economic freedom and not enough on personal or social freedom. “Take cannabis,” he said. “It’s freely available, so why not recognize reality and legalize it?” He added, “My friend knows exactly where to get it!” “Peter,” she said, “my detective is sitting outside. I want you to call him in now and give him details of your friend!” Well, he ducked and dived, wriggled and weaved, and she let him off the hook. We had other memorable moments. Later, when Michael Forsyth was national Chairman of FCS, I was his national Vice Chairman responsible for publicity. Mrs. Thatcher’s approaching birthday seemed to me to be a wonderful opportunity for us. About a week before the big day we started brainstorming in a pub called The Marquis of Granby, just off Smith Square and around the corner from Conservative Central Office. What could we or should we do? Eventually we settled on the idea of turning up at her Flood Street, 5
Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady
Chelsea home with a very, very large bouquet of red roses at about 7:30 a.m. Michael would present it to her against a backdrop of enthusiastic young London students that I would recruit. Everything was quickly arranged and the media alerted. On the morning of the big day I first picked up Michael in Hugh Street in central Westminster and then this huge display of red roses from a famous florist in Berkeley Square. The arrangement could barely fit in the taxi and we lost several heads en route. When we pulled up there was a massive bank of cameras and a solitary policeman but not one student. “Wait here,” I sternly told Forsyth as I was in a bit of a panic. I jumped out, scanned the street again and finally walked up to the policeman. “I wonder if you have seen any students?” I asked nervously. “Oh, yes, sir,” he replied, “Mrs. Thatcher saw them standing out here twenty minutes ago and invited them all into her home for a cup of tea!” “Should I say you are ready, sir?” he finished. The students duly emerged and formed a backdrop. Mrs. Thatcher appeared; Michael presented the roses and the pictures went out all over the world. I believe he has given her roses for every birthday since then. On the day of the general election that propelled her into 10 Downing Street the swing to the Conservative Party was such that a tour of London seats was arranged, not safe or even Labour marginal seats but that middle level of reasonably safe Labour constituencies. I was helping (in a private capacity) the Conservative candidate in West Norwood where I was at the time a councilman on Lambeth Borough Council. At some point that afternoon of May 3 she burst into our HQ at 495 Norwood Road, London SE27 with her entourage. She was radiant and she clearly knew she was going to win — but she did not win that particular seat. It was a long reach. I have three major personal memories of her as Prime Minister; only three because I worked in California and Virginia from April 1982 to January 1993.
The first was in January 1982. I was at the time Press, Parliamentary and Research Officer of the National Federation of Self-Employed (NFSE, which today goes by Federation of Small Business or FSB). Our new Chairman was David Dexter, an accountant who hailed from the Prime Minister’s own county of Lincolnshire. David persuaded her to come to lunch and to address his National Council in a private 2nd floor room at the Imperial Hotel, Russell Square, a major Bloomsbury venue say one mile from Downing Street. Unfortunately her only son, Mark, was missing in the Sahara at the time on a car rally and he had been missing for several days.1 The stress had been increased by reports that he had been found — only for such news to be later proved false.2 Mr. Dexter’s speech of welcome for the event had been press released some days earlier. The result was about 200 pressmen and dozens of cameras outside the hotel. Her staff and security formed a protective wedge and she had only a few feet to walk to me. As she did so voices were calling out for news of Mark. Against instructions she broke step and tried to answer saying something such as “there’s no news and I’m very worried.” I think this was the fifth day of Mark’s six days missing. At this point she was clearly breaking down and two large men, one on each side, picked her up by the elbows and came directly toward me very quickly. I led them to my left, their right, out of the lobby and into an empty function room. We quickly sat her down at some random table and her staff stood in a line blocking the view from a window to the outside courtyard. “What would you like, Prime Minister?” I asked. “Black coffee, please,” she replied. As The Daily Telegraph reported on its front page the next day — every paper had it on page one — “Next a young man [me] burst from the room, collared a waiter and said ‘Get me a black coffee and make it quick.’” Stories that she sobbed in public for 30 seconds or more are complete and utter nonsense. She quickly composed herself and went on to ace the meeting. The hotel staff (mostly new immigrants) presented her with a huge bouquet and David Dexter told her that to mark her visit the Federa1 He was found safe and sound after six days. 2 The local army was totally chaotic.
Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady
tion was sending a substantial check to the charity recommended by her office. Living just outside Washington DC I had the opportunity in 1987 to hear her address The Heritage Foundation (THF). By this time she was clearly getting a little antsy about people (all men) claiming credit for “Thatcherism.” This was the cue for her famous line: “But remember while the cocks may crow, it’s the hen that lays the egg.” That was the evening President Reagan sat down next to Joe Coors and said “Oh good, it must be ‘Miller Time’!” Three years later I was invited to a party at London’s Reform Club for the 10th anniversary of the founding of the Social Affairs Unit (SAU). I turned up on time. As I walked up the steps in a business suit I realized that Sir Antony Jay, co-author of the famous British TV series Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister, was next to me in black tie. We fell into conversation and entered the event. An hour later we joined up again as the Prime Minister was working the room. She turned from the group next to us and spotted Tony in his tuxedo — the only one in the whole room. “Ah, Tony,” she said, “you must be going to somewhere important later?” “No, Prime Minister,” he replied contritely. “I misread the invitation!” So I heard the author of Yes, Prime Minister say, “No, Prime Minister” to the then Prime Minister. In fact, a few weeks later she was no longer Prime Minister. When I became Director General of the IEA I found we had already published a collection of speeches, by my predecessor Lord Harris, under the title of No, Minister. So when he turned seventy and I published the best of his articles, I had no hesitation in calling them No, Prime Minister. As I recount below, she has never retired and to this day in her eighties keeps a very busy diary. I see her often and she keeps a keen interest in all that is going on as we will read below. Some years ago I was at a round-table of forty people with Lady Thatcher. After dinner we enjoyed remarks from a distinguished guest. Then came questions. Most present were fairly senior types from the 8
She glared down the table. “Young man. I quickly recruited a Tory MP friend who is a generation younger than Lady Thatcher. “Speak up. X MP. tall. who were the IEA’s editorial and general directors.” Turning bright red. At Ralph’s 80th in December 2005. Into the vacuum of space and time immediately following the guest’s remarks the young man proffered an interesting question. “Nobody told me!” The whole room erupted and just roared with laughter. He started a third time. Still no good. this young man was actually the leading expert in the room on our topic for the night. At 45. I was pretty young.” said Lady Thatcher in a very arch voice. my wife tells me.” she said. “SPEAK UP. YOUNG MAN!” she commanded again. To tell the truth. the civil service. I was hosting a dinner once for a famous politician from overseas. She has a great sense of comic timing — she does not only tell jokes when they are scripted by her speech writers. I sat Lady Thatcher to his right — where else? Come the moment when gifts were present9 . they listened and at the end they (the men) all applauded. A great personal joy for me over the past 15 years has been organizing significant birthday parties for the late Dr. but then she does not need to. he stood. Arthur Seldon CBE and Lord (Ralph) Harris of High Cross.” commanded Lady Thatcher. handsome in a battered kind of way. He tried again but clearly did not measure up. Lady Thatcher’s office asked if she and Sir Denis could attend and I replied yes. a 31-one-year-old representing his boss. Sir Denis failed to show and I faced having an empty chair at dinner. industry and politics. he threw. I concluded by saying that Sir Denis’s place had been taken for the night by Mr. The problem was that nobody could hear what he was saying. straight and. On the night.Preface media. We sat down to dinner. but there was one man even younger. I tapped on a glass to get attention and made a few announcements. “Stand up and throw your voice. “Really. We want to hear what you have to say. young man.
We should certainly be able to hope for something better from her — but I suspect that she will need to be exposed to the humanizing side of your character as much as to the pure welfare market-monger. The then IEA Editorial Director Arthur Seldon CBE had written on October 24. Lady Thatcher yanked it out of his hands. But she is inclined to be rather too dogmatic for my liking on sensitive issues like education and might actually retard the case by over-simplification. on January 1. One of the gifts was a brand new laptop computer. Unfortunately the gift wrap was too tight for Ralph. 1969 to a rising Tory MP. reportedly her favorite think tank. my Executive Assistant Clare was in charge. paper flew in all directions and she handed it back. as follows: “May we hope for better things from Margaret?” Geoffrey Howe replied: “I am not at all sure about Margaret. 10 . Geoffrey Howe.” Fortunately it was the former. There is much scope for her to be influenced between triumph and disaster. 1993.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady ed. I found the following in the archive. “Fortunately the computer survived!” On becoming Director General of the IEA. As the Financial Times diary column put it the next day. Before he knew what was happening. Many of her economic prejudices are certainly sound.
had not only failed to bring the labor unions under the rule of law but also given the country dire levels of currency inflation leading (with one exception of 8. The Labour Government. 8.8%.5%. under Prime Minister James Callaghan. William Shakespeare It was called the “Winter of Discontent.2%.3%) to annual double-digit price increases1. helped by opportunistic Liberals.0%. and Scottish Nationalists — depending on the issue of the moment. struggled desperately to hold onto power.” the United Kingdom’s winter of 1978–1979.Introduction “Now is the Winter of our Discontent. 1979 when Her Majesty’s Government lost a no-confidence motion by just one vote. It started on January 3. 1979 and ended on March 28.” —Richard III. 15.3% and 13. Decades of abject policy failure culminated in three months of anarchy. annual price increases were 16. 2 Minority governments may lose many day-to-day votes and still press on governing but not a vote of “no confidence” which necessitates a visit by the Prime Minister to Buckingham Palace to ask Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to dissolve Parliament and call a General Election. 24. Ulster Unionists.2 1 In the six years from 1974 through 1979.4% so what you could buy for £100 in 1974 cost £240 in 1979. thus precipitating a General Election. Successive British governments. This happened on only one other 11 . 16. both left and right.
The British polity was seared by a series of iconic images such as closed gas stations. she was that afternoon driven to Buckingham Palace occasion in the 20th century. when the first Labour government (a minority one) had also fallen. the electorate took its revenge with a swing from Labour to Conservative of 5. May 4. exactly four months after it had all started. this swing propelled Conservative Party Leader Mrs. oil refineries and manufacturers of “essentials” resulting in the laying off of over 1 million workers. as Labour bled red and the Conservatives gained + 62 net seats. Such atrocities included the disruption of gas supplies and the closure of gas stations. strikes by ambulance drivers including refusal to attend 911 calls. kisses (or rather just one kiss for her staunch ally Russell Lewis) and toasts. strikes by trash collectors and even an unofficial strike by grave diggers. disabled people’s homes were blockaded and trolleys carrying meals for old people were smashed to pieces? And at the General Election on May 3. Following speeches. Conservative leader Stanley Baldwin won the ensuing General Election. On that occasion Ramsay MacDonald asked the King to dissolve Parliament. the biggest since 1945. strikes by hospital support staff. Margaret Thatcher MP from her constituency of Finchley in north London to her Party headquarters (Conservative Central Office) at 32 Smith Square in the heart of Westminster. hospital support staff — not doctors — deciding which patients should be treated and which turned away without treatment and “if people died. Reports of food shortages around the country began to appear as distribution channels were disrupted. picket lines. so be it” as one union man said. It was grim! Very grim indeed! What had the country come to when pregnant women were denied medicals.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady The list of industrial atrocities committed during those three months still influences British politics today nearly three decades later.” Full (rather than empty!) coffins piled up in specially hired empty factories amid speculation by senior medical officers for health that they would soon have to be dumped out at sea. and the ubiquitous giant mountains of waste piled to the sky on street corners and in parks and squares that became nothing but a rat-fest.2%. Early the very next day. At one point British Rail issued a five-word press notice: “There are no trains today. the picketing of major ports. 12 . namely 1924.
and Golda Meir (Israel) 1969–1974. Heath. 1970–1977. The situation was so desperate that “serious” commentators opined that Germany and Japan had been “lucky” to have had the American USAF by day and the British RAF by night blow up its old factories. and of the 22 countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Britain ranked 19th. Eden. She was also the first woman in British political life to hold any of the four top jobs. Chancellor of the Exchequer and Prime Minister.1 And from there she was driven to No 10 Downing Street with a good workable majority of 43 to become her nation’s first (and still only) woman Prime Minister2 and only the fourth elected lady leader of a country in recent world history following Sirimavo Bandaranaike (Sri Lanka) 1960–1965. At the start of that period the French Ambassador had said that Britain was suffering from “degringolade” or falling down sickness. 13 . long-forgotten figures who were or had been heads of state. thus help1 Margaret Thatcher was Her Majesty the Queen’s 9th Prime Minister following Messrs. Given no clearly defining Major philosophy or goal (he was very much the quiet middle-manager type). 1990 when John Major followed her for 6 ½ years until he went down to a record defeat on May Day 1997 to Tony Blair. ten years later (as a senior world leader of vast experience and with a track record second to none) protocol at various international meetings put her behind many insignificant. 1994–2000. Churchill. 1980–1984. Britain was the “sick man of Europe. namely Home Secretary. Macmillan. and Callaghan. Foreign Secretary. the West German Ambassador had said Britain had “the economy of East Germany”.Introduction where the head of state Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II graciously invited her to form a new government. Attlee. Douglas-Home. Indira Gandhi (India) 1966–1977. yet have to stand well down the receiving line must have been truly galling. say. This only ever irked her when. Wilson. To be. a Conservative majority of +21 becoming a New Labour majority of +177. with President Reagan. See Appendix II for British General Elections 1945–2005. the Thatcher era can be fairly said to extend the full 18 years from 1979 to 1997. In day-to-day terms Prime Minister Thatcher “ran the country” but she was never head of state.” She was in the last chance saloon. In corporate terms Her Majesty the Queen is CEO and the Prime Minister is COO. one of the two leaders of the free world. 2 As Prime Minister she was not head of state. She was Prime Minister for 11 ½ years from that spring day in 1979 until November 28.
Home ownership (as opposed to private renting or public housing) had also leapt from 53% to 71%2. was stability not change. while born in Missouri. What was needed.5m. was raised in Kansas. Hayek commented to the author.” The socio-economic group we call “the middle class” had leapt from 33% to 50% of the population. Sir Robert.1 Inflation was rampant.5m to 0. 14 . 2 Such a high percentage of home ownership has obvious positive benefits. it does detract from labor mobility. It had become a nation of entrepreneurs with self-employment doubling from 7% to 14% of the workforce. the unions were out of control (“running the country” even) and the nationalized industries were under performing.A. So it was a waste of time to do anything radical as the other side would only get back in next time and undo everything. the British venture capital industry hardly existed at all in 1979 but a mere six years later was twice the size of “its counterparts in the rest of the European Community taken together. “I do not think the solution to Britain’s problems is to blow up all its capital!” He found the idea so preposterous as to be laughable. However. So the Brits were told by all sides. The UK surely does not have the vibrant private rental sector one sees in the United States.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady ing them to build new ones while Britain struggled with old capital.3 and as we will see tax rates were slashed. Radical policy solutions were pooh-poohed. To meet him is to understand why Missouri is known as the “show me” state. Ownership of shares by individuals had gone from 7% to 23% and astonishingly among trade union members from 6% to 29% — in other words from below the national average to well above! Finally the percentage of the work force belonging to a trade union had dropped from just over 50% to 18% and days lost to strikes from 29. As Chancellor of the Exchequer Nigel Lawson (later Lord Lawson) was to remark. And they believed it. The British (in particular the English majority) play cricket and it was simply assumed just like baseball that you had your turn at bat and then the others had their turn. 3 All figures in this paragraph are from a speech to the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) by Sir Robert Worcester of Market and Opinion Research International (MORI) in 1998. 1 In the late seventies Economics Nobel Laureate F. But 18 years later Britain had jumped from 19th to 2nd place on the OECD ladder. unaccountable. Even the French GDP was streets ahead of the British. it was believed. and gobbling up billions in subsidies.
poor products and a craven business class. the woman who was the pivotal point of the rescue of a country. interests. the woman who woke up her nation and made it once again a world leader and player. This book is my personal portrait of Margaret Thatcher.Introduction The transformation was stunning on many fronts. Pre-Thatcher a sclerotic union dominated economy was typified by surly service. It is not only the story of her life but also an examination of the ideas. and circumstances surrounding key events. Post-Thatcher even the institutionally left leaning British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has had to extend its coverage of the private business sector quite considerably such is the interest in capitalism by employees. And both service and product quality have been improved many times over. 15 . The choice and level of quality and service that had so stunned me on my first visit to the US in 1974 was becoming commonplace in the UK of 1997. After all she did not operate in a vacuum. entrepreneurs and shareholders.
self-employed backbone of Britain who were pulling themselves and their families up the 1 “Modest” is perhaps a better word but “humble” is more in use. Iain Duncan Smith. Grantham. rougher neighborhoods. a major transport artery. Her home had no bath and no running hot water.” Margaret Hilda Roberts was born on October 13. including one right behind the shop where she was born and raised. In Margaret’s youth the population was circa 30. 1925 under the sign of Libra (the scale) and above her parents’ grocery store on North Parade. William Hague. Grantham was a moderately important regional “market” town which owed a lot to being on the Great North Road. Prior to Margaret its most famous former resident was the scientist Sir Isaac Newton. It was also connected by water canal and railroad.000 and while it had wealthy prosperous areas it also had meaner. 17 . Childhood “No woman in my time will be Prime Minister — or Chancellor or Foreign Secretary — not the top jobs.1. Like her predecessor Edward Heath and her next four successors as Conservative Party leaders (John Major. Anyway I wouldn’t want to be Prime Minister. and Michael Howard — but not the current leader David Cameron) Margaret came from what is often patronizingly called “humble”1 stock but what was in effect the hard working. You have to give yourself 100%. in the United Kingdom’s east coast county of Lincolnshire.
see the story of her adviser Sir Alan Walters in Chapter 24. if you failed. her husband Denis Thatcher. 3 British “public schools” are in fact private. Margaret 1 The phrase “provincial grammar school girl” has four words of which three were put downs in her youth. you went to the local “secondary modern” and left at. 14. Margaret bringing home lots of books every week for him from the local public library. Alfred Roberts. and her great friend Ronald Reagan by a country mile. say. had had her own small business. beating out her political mentor Keith Joseph. Her grocery-store entrepreneur father. Beatrice Stephenson. It is the place where students spend their allowance or pocket money on items to supplement their school diet. Alf left school at twelve or thirteen (reports disagree) and gravitated immediately to food distribution and retailing. A carpenter at the same school was the father of Eric Heffer. just as a public house or pub is open to anyone who can pay the price 18 . Margaret was much later to use this fact to devastating effect in a parliamentary debate as a carpenter would have been socially and economically well above a tuck shop assistant.” If you passed. implying a restricted outlook and a lack of big city smarts. a major leftist leader in Parliament. Margaret and older sister Muriel (born 1921) grew up in the apartment over the shop. He towers over her early life both physically (at over six feet tall) and intellectually. Those eighteen years (until she left for Oxford University) of close exposure to and involvement in the daily routine and the problem-solving and decision-making that come with running your own business were to form a major building block of both her political philosophy and her approach to life and work.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady economic and social ladders on their own initiative and had truly great hopes for their children. 2 A “tuck” shop is found in nearly every UK boarding school. In Margaret’s time every child in the nation took an exam at the end of 5th grade called the “11+. They are called “public” because they are in a very real sense open to any member of the public to apply who can pay the fees. polish and refinement. as reportedly the best-read man in the area. starting as an assistant in the “tuck shop”2 at a prominent “public”3 school. There was more fluidity between the two systems than critics credit. you went to the local grammar school and probably stayed until you were 16 or 18. However. Her hometown of Grantham is often called “provincial” in a condescending way. Alf Roberts was arguably the single greatest influence on Margaret. had four generations of nearby Northamptonshire shoemakers as his ancestors while her mother.1 If such narrowness was indeed a danger then it was surely nullified ten times over by Margaret’s father. Self employment is written all over Margaret’s family tree.
Even then there were only three stations. Next morning a young girl called Margaret makes him breakfast before leaving for school. no television at all. Magistrate. The injured pilot beds down on the ticket room floor but is soon roused by ARP Warden Roberts. Badly injured.1. Childhood grew up in a home that was far from wealthy but Alf and her mother do seem to have built a sound business mostly immune from economic downturns. former Conservative MP Sir David Mitchell tells the story of a constituent who had been an air force pilot in World War II. and a wireless (radio) only when Margaret was about to turn into her teens. Alf was a lay preacher of renown and Sundays meant no newspaper. In his 2008 memoir From House to House. And during World War II he was an Air Raid Precaution Warden (ARP) as German bombers pounded Margaret’s hometown. The train is very slow and makes many stops. “Private” education would be understood to mean the hiring of private tutors. and prominent Rotarian. he was first been treated in the south of England and then sent to the north east for specialist treatment in Newcastle. The Roberts were serious.1 Mayor (often accompanied by Margaret). While he was nominally a member of the Liberal Party. the traditional 19th century advocates of of a pint. church three times and Margaret playing the piano in Sunday school. aiming for its munitions factory and killing scores of civilians. Even she balked at the fourth service in the evening after doing morning service and two Sunday schools! Alf also found time to be a councilman. He had been shot down over the English Channel and rescued by the Air Sea Rescue. It was of course a different era with none of the appliances we take for granted. 1 Aldermen no longer exist in British politics. Methodism was often a rich breeding ground for socialism and pacifism but not for Alf and his little Margaret. 19 . Reading and sustained adult conversation around the dinner table were the order of the day. Alderman. very serious Methodists. It gets to Grantham and the passengers are told that a heavy ongoing bombing raid will prevent the train from advancing. They were in effect senior greybeards elected by the directly elected councilmen. who insists on taking the man home and giving him a good bed for the night.
possibly more. tax-payer’s) candidate and was through and through a conservative. Margaret would be out with Dad attending a University outreach lecture or getting books from the library or struggling with quite difficult philosophy texts.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady free trade and free markets. A compromise solution was reached: the movie theater could open but not the parks. 20 . and to save. Sundays were sacrosanct but the pilots and crew deserved their R&R. Her father was the cloakroom attendant at the railroad station and her mother a farm girl turned factory worker. Why this distinction? Men in parks would disturb the peace of the Sabbath — men watching movies inside would not! Margaret’s mother Beatrice was more practical. From her Margaret learned how to run a household and above all how to organize her time. it was Beatrice who gave her the personal time-management tools that made her so effective and so hard to keep up with. loved every minute of it and at an age when other little girls might have been home with Mom. With the entry of America into World War II came the USAF to the great flat areas of Margaret’s south east Lincolnshire. From both she learned to be careful with every penny. he ran as an independent or rate-payer’s (i. tried to volunteer during World War I — a war which took the life of his younger brother — only to be turned down for medical reasons. Deeply patriotic he had on six occasions. to waste nothing. This raised important dinner time discussion issues in the Roberts household. And apparently she lapped it up.e. If Alf gave her the foundations of her later philosophy. The cornerstone of his philosophy was individual responsibility and a favorite book was John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty. It was so flat that airfield construction was very easy and it was near the east coast and therefore closer to Germany than most other parts of the UK. Beatrice was born and bred in Grantham. to live within your means. Beatrice was a seamstress or dressmaker apparently with her own micro-business when she married Alf at the age of 28 and had Muriel and Margaret when she was 33 and 37. And it was not all theory. So it was total immersion in public affairs from the day she was born for this bright little girl Margaret.
entertained. Beatrice also took the girls on holiday every summer. meaning she would eventually be eligible to go up to university at age 17 and not the more usual 18 or 19. starring James Stewart. tacking cottons were re-used! She was.1. It is easy to imagine her empathizing with the 1 Margaret inherited this passion for dark mahogany. And she claims that it was the twin combination of the works of Rudyard Kipling and the products of Hollywood shown at her local movie theater that opened her mind to the wider world.” she says. That great classic Mr. which was surely good grounding for later public speaking. She could read before starting grade school and was quickly bumped up a year. it was from my mother that I inherited the ability to organize and combine so many different duties of an active life. an excellent.” And: “Although in later years I would speak more readily of my father’s political influence on me. well-organized cook. When a teacher implied that Margaret had been “lucky” to win the recital prize. She played the piano and sang contralto to Alf’s alto. supported my father in his public life and as Mayoress. which led her to build a small collection of silver as “it looks so good in such a setting. As shop keepers Mom and Pop Roberts could never vacation together.” Margaret was something of a precocious child. the 10-year-old gave her a lecture on the value of hard work and preparation.1 Beatrice made most of Muriel and Margaret’s clothes buying top quality fabrics again at sales times. Childhood She was an ardent Methodist (just as well!) and a great saver. Smith Goes to Washington. Of her mother Margaret has written: “She had been a great rock of family stability. 21 . stepped in to run the shop when necessary. She furnished the house with good quality dark mahogany items purchased at sales. She had learned to play piano and recite poetry aloud to audiences (winning prizes since she was 10). displayed a series of practical domestic talents such as dressmaking and was never heard to complain. according to Margaret. She managed the household. Margaret too learned to play quite well but growing amounts of schoolwork led her to stop in her mid-teens when she had to cram years of Latin into a few months. was a big hit with young Margaret. did a great deal of voluntary social work for the church. Beatrice lived just long enough to see Margaret enter Parliament but died in 1960.
Smith butts heads with the corrupt political machine. Iain Sproat: “At school Margaret was the youngest on the (field) hockey team. After Kipling another great favorite (introduced to her by Alf of course) was Walt Whitman whose views were broadly liberal in the classical European sense.” Tariffs make the rich richer and the poor poorer he observed.1 Whichever. poetry recitals. She played at centre-half and rose to be captain. She did enjoy skiing — it was the only time she wore trousers. TX win the state championship. Michael Thatcher.” Heady stuff and just the sort of rhetoric she would later adopt and for which she would become world famous. This led to the following quote in the press from former Tory Sports Minister. And it takes singleness of purpose to reach an objective. And walking — she seems to have walked everywhere. Needless to say the movie has a happy ending. not even with sport-aholic husband Denis later in life. at least during her youth. Long walks in the countryside around Grantham were a big part of her life and she has clear.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady young politician (Jefferson Smith played by Stewart) chosen to fulfill the unexpired term of a deceased Senator. “I hate it root and branch. refuses to give up his principles and is framed.” And that “it takes struggles in life to make strength. golf. She would walk a mile to school. 1 In late 2007 her grandson. Once in DC. 22 . It takes crises to give courage. movies and the company of her pal Margaret Goodrich she enjoyed board games but reports on her athletic skills are mixed ranging from her own selfdeprecating remarks to one account of her fine play as a field hockey center half. It takes fight for principles to make fortitude. As well as piano. However it is doubtful that she ever saw Ronald Reagan in a movie. with or without Pop Roberts. Her image of being anti-sport stems from her aversion to her husband’s favorite game. helped his high school in Dallas. sport was never really that big in her life. He was a staunch opponent of tariffs which he regarded as “malevolent” and “flying in the face of American ideals.” To be more accurate she also wore trousers when visiting oil rigs or being taught how to drive a tank. strong memories of walking by the dole queues of the depression years.” He wanted free trade to knock down “barriers between peoples” remarking that “I want to see the countries all wide open. a mile back for lunch (cheaper that way). a mile back to school and a mile back home. was nominated for 10 Academy Awards and regularly appears in lists of Top 100 movies ever made.
typically wanted her to do the latter. and Margaret was on her way. a prerequisite even for chemistry and not taught at her school. For decades grammar school students aspiring to “Oxbridge” (“Ox” from Oxford and “bridge” from Cambridge) faced a strategic dilemma: to apply in “12th Grade” or to return to school for what is effectively “13th Grade?”2 Margaret opted for the former while her teachers. And this was to pay off handsomely as Margaret approached university years.1 This normally takes say several hundred hours of classroom tuition and homework and even though she was now maturing intellectually and had a private tutor it was still quite a remarkable feat. Childhood Above all however the Roberts household was one where you all worked hard and never wasted a second. she was already a year ahead — was rejected. The first was Margaret’s lack of Latin. The very young Margaret — remember. Alf and Margaret set their sights on Somerville College. The other problem was more subtle. But there were two problems to overcome. She became Joint Head Girl of School but two weeks later a telegram arrived — somebody had dropped out of Somerville.” 23 . Alf raided his savings to pay for a tutor and eight weeks later she was at what Brits call ‘O’ level standard. She failed to win her scholarship and she entered “13th Grade” to try again. including headmistress Dorothy Gilles. 2 In the British system the “12th Grade” was called “the Upper 6th” and the “13th Grade” was called “third year Sixth Form. At first it looked as if the teachers were right. Oxford. Early on in grade school Miss Harding’s history lessons — probably the closest the curriculum ever got to actual politics — had inspired Margaret but she eventually decided that Miss Kay’s chemistry classes were showing her a vision of a future in which she could play a big part.1. 1 “O” levels (now called GCSEs) are taken at about age 16.
I asked her just over 60 years later “are you more proud of being the first lady Prime Minister or the first scientist Prime Minister?” “Oh. It was war-time: blackouts.” she replied instantly and typically without a doubt. Most British degrees take three years as opposed to four in the United States. the growing flow of mature often married ex-servicemen anxious to make up time and get on with 25 . scientist. That is the recipe. And you graduated with both a Bachelors and a Master’s degree. but should get you pretty near. There had been a lot more it turned out to her desire to get into Oxford in 1943 rather than 1944 (as proposed by her teachers) than had originally met the eye. It will not always get you to the top. rationing. starting in 1944. University “I do not know anyone who has got to the top without hard work. This is because British children spend 14 years in grade school not 12 — they go from age 5 to 18 as opposed to say 6 to 17. However. nights on fire-watch. right about her 18th birthday. Miss Margaret Roberts arrived at Oxford to study Chemistry. definitely scientist.2. Chemistry at Oxford was an exception — it was a four year degree with the final year being devoted full time to a major piece of original research.” So in early October 1943. queues and no sugar in your tea were the order of the day.
Edith Summerskill MP) and one time Labour Party leadership hopeful Mrs. Kennedy School of Government. Her college Somerville had been set up as a Hall in 1879 and was one of the first for women. Dame Janet Vaughan was a socialist and did not hide her views. This is not what Miss Roberts wanted and she escaped it by the skin of her teeth. a Methodist Study Group and of course the Oxford University Conservative Association (OUCA). She was assigned to Somerville’s most famous (until Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher got into her stride) alumna and teacher. but had not become a full college of the university until 1920. Shirley Williams MP later Lady Williams of Crosby and from 1988 to 2000 a Professor at Harvard’s John F.. Episcopalian) Lady Margaret Hall. Novelists Vera Brittain (mother of Shirley Williams). Hodgkin went on to win the Nobel Prize for Chemistry two decades later in 1964 and was awarded the second ever Order of Merit (OM) to a lady by Her 1 (1899–1993) Vaughan was the famous clinical pathologist who worked at Harvard in the 1930s on pernicious anemia. namely Dorothy Mary Crowfoot Hodgkin (1910-1994). Shirley Summerskill MP (daughter of Dr. She viewed Miss Margaret Roberts as a cuckoo in her college nest and in the four years their lives crossed Janet never once invited Margaret to the many social events she hosted. Led by Dame Janet Vaughan1 its students faced no religious tests or obligations unlike its contemporaneous and deeply Anglican (i. rather homesick and apprehensive…” However. 26 . Somerville turns out to have been a kindergarten for female politicians including Indian Prime Minister Mrs. She was the third woman to get the Nobel in Chemistry.e. Miss Roberts initially found Oxford to be “cold and strangely forbidding” and in her memoirs she adds: “I arrived. Iris Murdoch.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady their lives led to the temporary introduction of two year degrees. In the Choir she sang first alto and it was by odd coincidence led by Thomas Armstrong father of Sir Robert Armstrong who was to become Margaret Thatcher’s Cabinet Secretary in the eighties. after Marie Curie in 1911 and her daughter Irène Joliot-Curie in 1935. she joined the Oxford Bach Choir. 2 Hodgkin as in the left-leaning Thomas Hodgkin she had married in the late 1930s. and Dorothy Sayers are also alumnae.2 Then only 33. Indira Gandhi.
and Miss Roberts just did not have it. and former Commons Speaker. The OM for Hodgkin was the first awarded to a lady since that given to Florence Nightingale in 1907.” But as Campbell asks: “Why should she be? She had no intention of becoming a chemist except in the short term. University Majesty the Queen in 1965. one of Thatcher’s many biographers. In the Thatcher memoirs Hodgkin is described as an “ever-helpful tutor” who got her some modest college grants to see her through. was or “her determination by X-ray techniques of the structures of important biochemical substances. There is an interesting philosophical connection between Wedgwood and Thatcher as the former attended the first ever meeting in 1947 of the Mont Pelerin Society (a group of classical liberal scholars) many of whom such as Friedman and Hayek were to influence the latter. They failed but she nevertheless got her degree and the chemistry puzzle they worked on was not cracked until 1980. In between long walks.e. 27 . That required money.” John Campbell. The Nobel. Betty Boothroyd in 2005. She adds that Hodgkin was “a brilliant scientist and gifted teacher. OUCA and finding a comfortable place of worship 1 Between Dorothy Hodgkin and Margaret Thatcher were historian Cicely Veronica Wedgwood in 1969 and hospice movement founder Dame Cicely Sanders in 1989. She took her time — after all. quotes Hodgkin on Thatcher as follows: “I came to rate her as good. There were a few girls studying at Oxford from “northern” grammar schools but female students were mostly public (i. Working with a German refugee scientist she pushed forward on a new scientific frontier suggested by Hodgkin’s own work. After Margaret came the opera singer Dame Joan Sutherland in 1991. One could always rely on her producing a sensible. ballerina Dame Ninette de Valois in 1992.” She was later honored with her own stamp by the British postal service and the picture on that stamp shows her just as Miss Roberts would have known her. she had four years.” Her fourth-year dissertation reports another biographer Hugo Young was effectively to be Hodgkin’s research assistant.. well-read essay and yet there was something that some people had that she hadn’t quite got… She was not absolutely devoted to it (chemistry). Lady Thatcher herself was admitted to the Order of Merit in 1990 as the fifth female OM1. the choir.2. private) school girls with the resources to exploit all Oxford had to offer. according to the citation.
The famous Oxford Union debating society. Starved of a possible debating career in the Union. As an expression of her own indebtedness she volunteered two nights every week to serve meals to USAF personnel from the nearby Upper Heyford base in a forces canteen. The war of course put quite a damper on party political activity. No other university has come close to its domination of recent British politics. Churchill’s Minister of Health. Macmillan (’57–’63). Heath (’70–’74). While chemistry labs might need to be organized at the university level there was a lot to be said for living in small colleges. while she never hid her political views and would knock on any door. The overwhelming orthodoxy was an overarching role for big centralized government. Eden (’55–’57). she threw herself into OUCA and by her 4th and final year (1946-1947) she became its second ever lady President. one might argue! Oxford was important to Margaret Roberts in many ways. she seems to have kept such ideas to herself at church and within the Choir. One long term lesson she learned at Somerville was the importance of small units. where so many politicians have and still do cut their teeth. Interestingly. Douglas-Home (’63–’64). long afternoons in the laboratories. Her generation was deeply grateful for the chance to study at Oxford University and above all at a time of world war they realized the debt they had to those who served while they merely studied. as a budding chemist.1 She led resurgence in OUCA during the fall of 1946 as membership passed 1. Of course she was known to be a Conservative as she rose through the ranks of OUCA. did not admit women as members until the sixties but Miss Roberts would attend as a silent auditor and observe from the gallery and take it all in. Indeed 25 British Prime Ministers have graduated there and Prime Ministers Attlee (’45–’51).000 for the first time in two decades. 1 The first was Rachel Willink just a few terms earlier — she was the daughter of Henry Willink. Wilson (’64–’70 and ’74–’76). an early insight into the principle of subsidiarity. Margaret Roberts found Oxford overwhelmingly left wing although less fractious than the 1930s.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady (the Wesley Memorial Church) there were lectures and.” 28 . Margaret Roberts was therefore the first Lady President without high “connections.
Kenneth Tynan. and St. for her last two she moved out into private rented accommodation or what the British call “digs. Grimsby. infirm. who was to become a prominent political journalist and write a biography of her called simply Thatcher. Politics.4 who was to pen The Future of Socialism. Philosophy. Somerville.2. member of the House of Lords. Jesus. and Law. Johns. MD in 1964. Their majors were Law. William Rees-Mogg later Editor of The Times. Robin Day3 a Liberal who was later to be a member of her law chambers and who went on to pioneer a particularly rude and combative form of TV interviewing. politics was clearly her first love and destiny. the men were at war and those left behind were either older. and one of the cleverest and most thoughtful men of his era. large numbers of veterans returned or entered and this changed the whole atmosphere and added a lot in her view. Christ Church. Kenneth Harris. He was famously to say.1 Her time at Oxford can be split in two on several fronts. and Blair (’97–2007) have served Her Majesty the Queen (and her father before her) as Prime Minister for all but fourteen years since the 1945 General Election and all are Oxonians. Secretary of Education ’65–’67. In her final two years. 29 . socialist son of Lord Stansgate and father of Hilary Benn who currently serves as a Labour minister. and Anthony Crosland. History (did not graduate because of WWI). For her first two years she lived in college. Chemistry. or very young and waiting for the draft. 3 It is not clear if they actually overlapped. University Thatcher (’79–’90). Other notable contemporaries were Tony Benn. and Economics (PPE). PPE. Anthony Wedgwood Benn. the controversial 1 Their colleges were respectively University. It was there at Oxford that she first got to know many whose paths would become entwined with her own including Edward Boyle who was later a Conservative MP and education minister. Christ Church. was a Labour modernizer of his day and later.” and much of her time as Education Secretary was spent undoing his policies. 4 Crosland married Susan Catling of Baltimore. “If there is one thing I will do I will smash every ******* grammar school in the country.”2 For her first two years there were more women than usual. While she studied chemistry. As Foreign Secretary in 1976 he took Henry Kissinger to watch Grimsby play a soccer game against Gillingham in Blundell Park. then the Hon. Balliol. Balliol. Oriental Languages. like her. 2 “Digs” is an abbreviation of “Diggings” and to be in “Digs” is to share various facilities and to have certain meals provided by the landlady.
After all. But there were other influences at Oxford as she continued to read widely most notably C. for Squadron Leader Worth back home in Grantham. Lewis’s (Screwtape Letters (1942) and Abolition of Man (1943)). the journalist (including for Newsweek). As President of OUCA. author and broadcaster and Liberal candidate for Rochdale in 1958. for whom she was a “warm-up” speaker aged all of 19 years and 9 months. Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom (1944). Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon (1940) and Karl Popper’s The Open Society and Its Enemies (1945).S. She was extremely active both for Quentin Hogg in Oxford and. it had worked in war hadn’t it — when we all set aside personal ambitions and pulled together! If it worked in war then surely it would work in peace and in any case. However the national mood was strongly in favor of governmentsponsored safety nets. while Churchill had been running the war and going overseas. hadn’t nice Mr. so in peace.” The cry went up: “As in war. control. This time they were “not to be cheated. as was Ludovic Kennedy. “I speak as a very young Tory”. but then she used that to her advantage as it was her generation which would “bear the brunt” of much needed changes she claimed. The Sleaford Gazette of June 29 described her as “very youthful” and her opening words were. when term ended and she went down. Colm Brogan’s Who Are ‘The People’ (1943) and Our New Masters (1947).A.” namely the government would own. and direct pretty much everything. Midway through her four years at Oxford came the 1945 General Election that was to see the victorious war leader Winston Churchill trounced by the socialist Clem Attlee. the returning troops of World War I had been promised “a land fit for heroes” and had walked slap bang into the UK’s depressed 1920s. Attlee been running the coun- 30 .Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady yet influential British theatre critic and writer who died in 1980 was a contemporary. A generation earlier. F. she rubbed shoulders with many Conservative Party leaders and she was to meet so many talented young people between say 1943 (going up) and 1953 (birth of her twins) that by the 1970s to watch the evening TV news was to catch up on what your old “chums” were up to.
Margaret Roberts was thrilled to be around so many — hundreds if not thousands — fellow Conservatives but the lack of clearly articulated opposition to the evils of socialism and its first cousin communism left her despondent. To her the whole meeting had an air of the inevitability of socialism and a clear sense that conservatives had to learn how to accommodate rather than confront such arrant nonsense. a dog’s breakfast of socialism and corporatism with a few odd bones for the free marketeers. Even in 1988 Prime Minister Thatcher was forced to say “the NHS is safe in our hands”. Those were the glory years of collectivism with the nationalization of the commanding heights of the economy. Such japes always seem to take place at seaside resorts and for decades the Conservative and Labour parties went turn and turn about between the north’s Blackpool and the south’s Brighton with the southwest’s tonier Bournemouth. Margaret Roberts started her final year at Oxford by going as an OUCA representative to her first Conservative Party Conference in Blackpool. the expansion of welfarism. Churchill was reportedly not at all happy with it. Not to be confused with guacamole. Little did the authors realize what was to come! 1 Mushy peas are peas that have been mushed to the extent they are easy to smear all over every forkful of your meal. This unease was further reinforced in May 1947 as she prepared to leave Oxford and her party published its Industrial Charter.1 For many decades the UK’s three main parties have held their annual conventions over a three week season stretching from late September through mid October — it comes at the end of the summer recess and before Her Majesty the Queen opens the new Parliament. and the establishment of a nationalized health industry spun as the National Health Service (NHS) and soon to replace the Church of England in the British psyche. 31 .2. a loud. such is its hold on the British people. With Churchill out and her exams behind her. Yorkshire’s even tonier Harrogate and a rejuvenated Manchester getting into the lineup in recent times. jolly. University try? And Churchill did not help his cause by insisting that the socialists would need a “Gestapo” of their own to implement their policies. Coney Island kind of resort town of Victorian origin on the coast of Lancashire in northwest England where the staple diet is fish and chips with mushy peas.
Berlin. and in moral force. Vienna. Warsaw. Prague. 1946. Just seven months later. far from the Russian frontiers and throughout the world. in one form or another. and in science and in industry. As a scientist. all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere. Belgrade. “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an iron curtain has descended across the Continent. “In a great number of countries. and all are subject. Bucharest and Sofia. the Communist parties or fifth columns constitute a growing challenge and peril to Christian civilization. albeit in training.” “If the population of the English-speaking Commonwealth be added to that of the United States. all over the globe. Budapest. Communist fifth columns are established and work in complete unity and absolute obedience to the directions they receive from the Communist center. 1945 and March 5.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady Two dates are etched deeply in her memory from those last years at Oxford: August 6. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe. Except in the British Commonwealth and in the United States where Communism is in its infancy. she had a fair understanding of the science behind the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6. in March 1946. precarious balance of power to offer its temptation to ambition or adventure. there will be no quivering. On the contrary there will be an overwhelming assurance of security. not only to Soviet influence but to a very high and in some cases increasing measure of control from Moscow. She read all she could find for a year or more on the effects of the bombing but fully bought into the American explanation that the bombing helped to bring the war to an end.” The second was a powerful exposition of the history and special ties which bind the US and the UK so firmly together in “The Special Relationship. It contained two main themes. “If we adhere faithfully to the Charter of the United Nations and walk forward in sedate and sober strength. The first was a dire warning about communism. her spirits were tremendously boosted by Winston Churchill’s speech in Fulton. This was the kind of clear anti-communist message she longed to hear. with all that such cooperation implies in the air. seeking to lay no arbitrary control upon the thoughts 32 . seeking no one’s land or treasure. on the sea. 1945. Missouri to Westminster College.
not only for us but for all. not only for our time but for a century to come. University of men. with high marks. the high roads of the future will be clear. Alf’s daughter was well launched on a career and into society. if all British moral and material forces and convictions are joined with your own in fraternal association.2. How far could she go? 33 . while pursuing outside interests as well.” Having earned a degree.
Inter alia.” Between the summer of 1947 and the fall of 1959 Margaret Roberts/Thatcher was characteristically busy. married Denis Thatcher. qualifying as a tax barrister. Launching “Pennies don’t fall from heaven. They have to be earned on earth.3. was finally adopted for a safe seat and got elected to Parliament with a huge majority. got rejected for several safe seats. They would have been in their mid to late twenties making her by far the youngest member. She eschewed the Young Conservatives which was a glorified marriage bureau at the time and instead focused on the ’39– ’45 Group which was an older and more serious group of thinkers of the war generation. wrote and spoke often in the Conservative interest. reveling in its policy discussion groups. Following several months of job interviews the young Margaret Roberts opted for a firm called BX Plastics based in Manningtree. 35 . She also switched to the law. twice fought a Labour held parliamentary seat. Living in the lovely town of Colchester. Essex which lies east of London and north of the Thames Estuary. she bused to work with colleagues and quickly joined the local Conservative Party. she started her career as a research chemist. and had twins Mark and Carol.
Within a year the 1950 General Election 1 This was a bit of a backdoor way in. Margaret Roberts quickly realized that the Essex to Kent journey through two separate central London stations made for an impossible schedule and she quickly resigned from BX Plastics. to put her on the approved list of candidates post ante. dropping her off at Liverpool Street Station for a late train back to Essex.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady In the fall of 1948 the Conservative Party’s annual conference was scheduled for the Welsh seaside resort of Llandudno and she arranged to attend representing the Oxford University Graduate Conservative Association. First. Kent constituency that they asked her to apply to be their candidate.1 She was days short of turning 23. Second. and took up lodgings or “digs” in her constituency of Dartford. she had no private income and she was not on her party’s list of approved candidates yet she so impressed officials of the Dartford. say. six representing Colchester. energetic woman who is so young and beautiful we might get a little national publicity. Third.” After three rounds of interviews Margaret Roberts emerged as the candidate on January 31. Later that evening he drove her into central London. joined J Lyons in central London as a research chemist. let’s have some fun with this incredibly dynamic. Conservative Central Office. she managed to persuade her party’s HQ. 1949 aged 23! She has since speculated that the size of the Labour majority helped in her selection. The Tory Party ranked Dartford as “a most hostile part of the county. While Kent lies east of London and south of the Thames Estuary and is often called “the garden of England.000.” it also has its rougher industrial areas of which Dartford was one and Labour held it with a huge majority of 20. Because the local Tories were never ever going to win such a seat they had nothing to lose — what the heck they thought. rather than just its officers) at her formal adoption meeting. she met businessman Denis Thatcher who had been at her adoption meeting and very much liked what he’d seen and heard. 36 . at a celebratory dinner for senior constituency officers that very night. February 1949 was a trebly important month. If she had tried to go as one of. she would have been way down the list. she got the support of the whole of the constituency membership (all 100%.
When the meeting ends people crowd round her — generally Socialists — to ask more questions. really genuine ones. The Daily Telegraph. she was very attractive. It was utterly exhausting even for a fit 24-year-old but she gained first national and then international exposure of a very flattering nature. She excels at questions and always gives a straight and convincing answer. Conservative Party Vice 37 . Margaret Roberts had made a swingeing cut in the socialist majority in Dartford from around 20. it’s going to be all right!” This was nearly ten years before TV was to impact elections at all and it was very hard physical work. Launching was underway and she attended to paperwork in the mornings. She was the youngest woman running for Parliament. recently revealed that it had discovered a memo in the Conservative Party archive at the Bodleian Library at Oxford University in which Cook writes of Margaret Roberts: “Every meeting she has had has been packed and people turned away. and Denis (ten years her senior and already divorced — but see later) had proposed and — after serious thought — she had accepted. Labour’s gigantic majority in Parliament was cut from 146 to 5. Miss Roberts has visited and spoken to the workers in very many factories. but they were the people who could not get into the meeting. canvassed on the doorstep in the afternoons.3.” The same archive reports The Daily Telegraph contains another memo dated two years later in which John Hare. She had also made a great impression on her party’s regional agent Beryl Cook. When the hall was next door to a cinema the manager rushed out — he thought there was a fire because so many people were leaving. They had the grace to acknowledge that she got there first. She is never heckled. single. and spoke at meeting after meeting every night. my word.000. they have too much respect for her. she was close to London and the media.000 to around 14. The Socialists were very annoyed about this until they learned that the same facilities were open to them but never asked for. Sir David Mitchell recounts that he was one of Margaret Roberts’ warm-up speakers. At the end of the evening Denis took David for a drink and commented: “If you can hear the woman you love making the same speech twenty-one times and you still love her. literate and. a leading British newspaper. was she articulate.
No local ties. she might have been tempted to look for a better (even a winnable) seat elsewhere1 but there is no evidence of anything but 100% loyalty to the folks in Dartford who had had the courage to select her in the first place. and she moved out of the constituency to a small apartment in St. Having done so well in 1950. not years. Discovering an old treaty they secede from the UK and become a micronation — if you are not a resident then you need a passport to enter. I did my best to warn her of the horrors of life in the House of Commons especially in so far as this life affects the home. Chelsea to the west and Victoria and Belgravia to the north west. their ongoing romance was very much a mid-week affair. hence the movie’s title. as in our short interview she struck me as being a woman of immense personality and charm with a brain quite clearly above the average. 38 .Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady Chairman. an interesting. It was not far from Denis’s apartment and. slightly Bohemian part of London on the better side of the River Thames between Westminster to the north. Coincidentally (or was it?) she moved into the Pimlico district just as Ealing Studios. a Ford Prefect. Pimlico. She did however obtain her first car. then a top UK film maker. In a nutshell the residents of Pimlico become sick and tired of petty bureaucracy and post-war rationing (which actually exceeded that of the war and did not disappear until the mid 1950s). Labour and everybody else in the country knew another General Election was not far off — months. 1 Unlike the US. Passport to Pimlico is a classic British movie whose message must have appealed to the young politician. British political candidates are completely free to apply for their party’s nomination anywhere in the country. in charge of Parliamentary candidates. George’s Square Mews. Margaret Roberts was quickly readopted by her friends in Dartford. I would also agree. Nothing I said deterred her. Miss Beryl Cook describes her as the best woman candidate she has ever known. writes: “She is a remarkable young woman who is not to be deterred from pursuing a political career in spite of her recent marriage and the possibility of producing and bringing up a family. family.” With a majority of only five. given that her weekends were taken up with politics and his with refereeing rugby union football games. One even gets Scots representing English seats. was marketing Passport to Pimlico starring Margaret Rutherford and Stanley Holloway. or interests are needed though they might help at the margin.
on August 12. followed by 12 Downing Street. The General Election did indeed follow quickly on October 25 in the fall of 1951. Conservative MP for Maidstone. where he worked on many buildings including the Adolphus Hotel for Adolphus Busch. Bossom.1 Margaret Roberts and Denis Thatcher now chose December 13. Designed by George Dance Junior and opened in 1778. founder of Anheuser-Busch. The former is for life only while the latter passes on down the generations.000 on an 85% turnout. She had become great friends with a remarkable character called Sir Alfred Bossom. 1951 to be married in Wesley’s Chapel2 on City Road in London. 1 Downing Street has been the official London residence of over 50 British Prime Ministers going back over 250 years. 3 A life member of the House of Lords is distinct from a hereditary member. The Conservatives won with a workable majority of seventeen and Winston was back in No. Margaret Roberts. Next door is 11 Downing Street. A baronet abbreviated to Bt. After making his fortune Bossom returned to England and entered politics. Launching Some of the scenes were particularly on target politically. it became Wesley’s London base. the founder of Methodism. I suspect. turning 26 just twelve days before. Kent from 1931 to 1959. This was the era of the Berlin Blockade and the subsequent year long airlift after President Truman had told General Lucius Clay not to charge down the autobahn with his tanks as that might lead to yet another war. 2 Wesley’s Chapel was built by John Wesley. home of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. had moved to the US in 1903 to build skyscrapers and marry Emily Bayne from New York City in 1910. He was made a Baronet in 1953 and a life member3 of the House of Lords in 1960. 10 Downing Street. is a hereditary title. They had met soon after her 1949 adoption. home of the Chief Whip. In the US the Chancellor of the Exchequer is called the Treasury Secretary. Scenes in the movie of the free residents of Pimlico cut off by the UK government were redolent of the Blockade. After working for Carnegie Steel in Pittsburgh on social housing for workers. slashed another good chunk off of her opponent’s majority getting it down to just over 12. 1949 at Dartford Football Ground where he chaired a county-wide Conservative Party Rally and she warmed up the audience for a major speech by Anthony Eden. Bossom moved to Dallas. an architect. Denis Thatcher was Sir Denis Thatcher 39 .3.
after the ‘31 General Election. But Bossom was clearly the leader that day. 5 that they held their reception. the bank’s president. it was at No. Maple Terrace Apartments. half thinking she could combine her chemistry with the law and take a run at the patent bar. it is said that on first hearing the name Bossom. In early 1953 she discovered she was pregnant and to her great surprise twins Mark and Carol were duly delivered by caesarean operation on Saturday. 5 Carlton Gardens. her party was in power and she had a lovely apartment in a fashionable district. Thatcher was that on their big day he turned over to them his London home at the prestigious address of No. Bayne. in all innocence of what was happening. and in Texas building the following: (in Dallas) American Exchange National Bank. She had always been interested in the law since Alf’s days as a magistrate and lunches with visiting legal officials.” However. 1 Bossom was very active in the 1920s building New York’s Seaboard National Bank for his father-in-law Samuel G. But to Mrs. It was from No. so his title passed to his son Mark and will one day pass to his son Michael in Dallas. the new Mrs. watched England play day one of a key interBt. An annual lecture in his memory still runs under the direction of the Faculty of Building of the Royal Institute of British Architects. Winston said “Bossom? Bossom? Neither one thing nor the other. Denis was doing well. Father Alf Roberts was of course present and must have delighted in the event and seeing his younger daughter so well set. say. Thatcher settled down to enjoy a fairly affluent lifestyle. war time restrictions were coming off. August 15 a few weeks early while Denis. He also renovated Fort Ticonderoga in upstate New York.” that is.1 Following a honeymoon in Madeira. He left the House of Commons as Margaret Thatcher entered and after four years in the Lords died in the early fall of 1964. the United States National Bank.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady Bossom had become a great drinking pal of Churchill’s who would famously end serious meetings of. not bosom or bottom but Bossom! Bossom’s importance to Miss Roberts and Mr. 5 that Margaret left to get married. 40 . the Cabinet by announcing he was “off to Bossom’s. MagnoliaMobil Petroleum Building. (in Houston) Petroleum Building (in Galveston). 5 that Bossom led the toast to the happiness of the newly-weds. Thatcher idleness is a sin and she was soon studying hard to become a barrister. and it was in his home at No.
What could possibly top that? Sitting impatiently in hospital waiting to be released (in the 1950s moms and babies often stayed in the hospital for 2 even 3 weeks) she set herself the goal of passing the bar exams just four months later. Dicey’s The Law of the Constitution which stressed the importance of the rule of law and warned against attacks upon it. Four days later on Wednesday August 19 England won and a trophy called the Ashes1 came back home after nearly 20 years. Despite this. When Australia beat England for the very first time. The US has played Canada at cricket since 1844. Back home she organized life with a nanny and hit the law books duly passing in December and joining Chambers2 as a pupil. 2 Chambers are groups of barristers and barristers are attorneys who are allowed to plead in court and undertake public trials. the Constitution of Liberty is the book she famously smashed down on a table at a meeting of some of her rather pink (socialist) policy advisers while leader of HM Opposition (1975–1979) and declared stoutly: “This is what we believe in!” 1 The Ashes is the name given to a series of games of cricket played by England and Australia since 1882. But attorney Thatcher was no narrow technician. She also returned to Hayek with his Constitution of Liberty in 1960 and later his three-volume Law. Legislation. Launching national cricket match versus Australia at a ground called The Oval in South London. Before she could change her mind she signed the paperwork and sent it off with her check.3. 41 . 3 Pupils are trainee barristers. a small cricket item was cremated and the ashes put in a terracotta urn. The former contains as an appendix Hayek’s famous essay. and Liberty which came out between 1973 and 1979.V. Why I Am Not a Conservative. as opposed to solicitors who prepare the cases for the barristers. To non-cricket players this might sound trivial but to sporting Englishmen such as Denis it was huge: a son and a daughter and the Ashes in the space of just a few days.3 She was over the next two years to spend time in four different sets of Chambers sampling different areas of law before rejecting patents (too little work) and selecting the tax bar (no shortage there!). Her deep study of Dicey is probably responsible for her view that the rule of law is far more important for liberty than any system of one man one vote. She delved into the philosophy of law and discovered A.
Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady As a new mom she deliberately chose not to be a candidate at the May 25. 2 Under the largely unwritten British constitution (some of it is written down but not in one place or uniform manner and in any case is being quickly taken over by the European Union based in Brussels). an astronaut and an Iroquois Indian woman. 2) Don’t find yourself on the opposite side to the United States “in all major international crises affecting British interests”. In Churchill’s American Heritage. three Presidents. Bush over the first Gulf War: “This is no time to go wobbly. It was a major embarrassment for her country.” Such lessons sure stood her in good stead 25+ years later when she took on the Argentineans over the Falkland Islands 8.2 1 Churchill’s mother was Jennie Jerome of Brooklyn whose father Leonard Jerome edited the New York Times. 1955 General Election which saw the Conservative majority soar to a very comfortable 54 — a mandate for new Conservative Prime Minister Anthony Eden. no Parliament may exceed five years. 3) Make sure all you do is “in accord with international law”. IN. 42 . Churchill. At any time the Prime Minister can go to Her Majesty the Queen and ask for Parliament to be dissolved and a general election called. it did not sit easy with her. she felt very much out of the real action and she fretted.1 She tells in Volume I of her memoirs of how Suez taught her four key lessons: 1) Don’t go to war unless you are “determined and able to finish it”. George!” Another General Election beckoned by May 1960 at the very latest with either the spring or fall of 1959 likely as those last months of any government are mostly wasted times with the inevitable election looming and the Prime Minister’s room to move shrinking. Indeed it is said that some past Prime Ministers have not been beyond pump priming the economy a little so that it might boom at just the right moment. by his grandson Winston S.000 miles from home and practically in the enemies’ backyard. and 4) “he who hesitates is lost. the latter speculates that Churchill’s extended tree included three Pilgrims. and her party and it quickly led to the departure of her leader Anthony Eden and his replacement by Harold Macmillan who shared with Churchill the great distinction of having an American mother. This is a very powerful and useful weapon for any sitting Prime Minister as he or she can chose a date that suits his or her Party. much as she was in demand as a speaker. her government. Macmillan’s mother was Helen (Nellie) Artie Tarleton of Spencer. The ensuing Suez debacle in 1956 engraved itself on her political consciousness. They also come in handy when she advised President George W. However.
deliver a great speech only to be sandbagged at Q&A by hostile (usually female) questioners asking how could such a young mother with two young children possibly take on the terribly onerous job of being an MP. She was alone but this time. who were the more openly hostile. as time and again in places such as Orpington and Maidstone and Beckenham and Hemel Hempstead she would reach the final three or four out of. Her speech was honed to perfection and by now her public speaking confidence was such that she could and did perform without a single note. not the men. all in their 40s and all public school (i. A rump of half-a-dozen disillusioned (mostly female) activists continued to try to make life difficult and when she was later presented to the full membership. 150 to 250 applicants.e.3. Denis Thatcher was now entitled to consider only safe seats in or close to London. despite the same barrage of personal questions. Denis was off on his annual month-long sales trip to Africa and had no idea of what she was up to. Today female candidates are much encouraged and it is hard to conceive of the depth of opposition she faced and the sheer guts and tenacity needed to win through. say. in north London.. She took advice on what to wear and researched the area and local issues well. wouldn’t her kids suffer? Her defense was that she had the support of her (reasonably wellheeled) husband and a first class nanny and that she had managed to organize her life as a barrister-mom. where the sitting MP. the traditional 43 . while nobody voted against her. she squeaked through. And it was the women. was retiring. In July 1958 she put her name forward for Finchley. She made the final four with three men all accompanied by well-groomed stay-at-home wives. privately) educated. And even if she did take it on and win. Again it looked to be a rerun of the last four years of such experiences. CCO staff can play a major role in helping or hindering a career. and so she felt confident she could play the MP-mom gig. She relayed this information to Conservative Central Office (CCO) near Parliament where the Chief Agent for London was only too happy to try to assist this rising star. Launching Having fought so well in 1950 and 1951 and having made such an impression on party bosses Mrs. But all was not plain sailing. Sir John Crowder. coming top on the first ballot 36 to 35 and top again on the second ballot 46 to 43.
The only question was how far she would go. She was just 5 days short of turning 34. the twins had just turned 6 — she was on her way.500 to 16.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady “unanimous” was in fact only an “overwhelming.260. 1959 Margaret Thatcher duly became MP for Finchley with a majority up by 3. 44 . The election rolled around 14 months later and on the October 8.” Days later Denis learned of her adoption as he changed planes in Nigeria and picked up a discarded copy of the London paper called the Evening Standard.
To her. Those with seats well away from the capital mostly maintain the principal home in or very near to the constituency with some small utility apartment in Westminster or neighboring Pimlico or Lambeth. Anything underlined three times is obligatory.” Early on as an MP: “Of course you have doubts but I have not just come to this out of the blue. they purchased a large home with a garden well south of London. Elected “If you set out to be liked you would be prepared to compromise on anything at anytime.4. This was their sole residence and regardless of the lateness of the night Mrs. 45 . and you would achieve nothing. whatever the day might hold.” New Members of the House of Commons face interesting decisions regarding domestic arrangements. are not forced to maintain two homes and again tend to live in or very near to the constituency. While Finchley was well up in north London. There was a three-line whip1 for breakfast! 1 In Parliament a three-line whip is something you disobey at your peril. Each week the Whips Office sends around a timetable of business for the coming week. near Farnborough in his home county of Kent. Thatcher always drove home. breakfast was a key meal of the day when all four Thatchers could be together. and Mrs. especially central London seats. Mr. Thatcher decided otherwise. Those with London.
3 The Whips Office is far more important in UK politics because MPs vote nearly always on party lines as dictated by the Chief Whip who sits in Cabinet. Because they both abstain. but not as often as she would prefer as she does not like to drag her permanent security detail away from their families on the Day of Rest.1 Church attendance featured every Sunday. not High. Free votes are rare as is rebellion against the Whip. of E. points of order and style of speaking and debate and she dutifully put in those hours until she was confident she knew the ropes. Denis was a member of the Church of England (C. To this day she worships within the C. It is made up of all Conservative backbenchers but frontbenchers may attend also. paperwork. establishment was Low Church.m. There was and is no substitute for hours spent on the green benches6 lapping up the procedures. the advice of more senior members. However “the atmosphere was like a men’s club. 5 A “pair” occurs when two MPs of opposing parties agree that both will not vote at certain times. Margaret Thatcher MP into the procedures and highways and byways of the House of Commons was greatly helped by meetings of the 1922 Committee2. the majority of the government of the day is not impacted. of E.m. Fortunately the local C. and speech writing before the then 45 minute (today more like a good hour) ride to Westminster for lunch. 46 . of E. 2 The 1922 Committee was formed in 1923 but takes its name from the 1922 General Election. if not impossible. and therefore acceptable to Methodist Margaret. Thatcher would attend to correspondence. The induction of Mrs. and the pairing system4 where she was lucky to find a socialist acquaintance from her Dartford days who was now a northern Labour MP and happy to be her “pair”5. or Episcopalian in the US) and the Thatchers had no wish to confuse the twins by observing different forms of worship. with prayers and often go on into the evening. 6 The benches in the lower house or Commons are green while those in the upper house or Lords are red. say. 4 The pairing system allows you to have a buddy in the other main party with whom you agree not to vote at certain times. An MP with a young family today would be more likely to be home for an early evening supper than for breakfast. the Whips Office3. thus freeing up your diary. and prayers at the start of business at 2:30 p. In recent years the hours have become more “family friendly.” commented a 1 Proceedings in Parliament used to start every day at 2:30 p.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady Following the school run (Mark and Carol were soon to go to boarding schools) Mrs.” In other words Margaret’s family breakfasts would be close run things today.
Along with 309 colleagues. It would have to wait! Finally she settled on a civil liberties come first amendment issue that had been briefly mentioned in her Party’s Manifesto and that might enjoy widespread cross-party support. Second she considered a Bill to outlaw the union closed shop4 but the Whips Office felt this was far too controversial. and third no serious opposition from a pressure group or some such that will lead to an opposing MP talking out your Bill. Elected female colleague. She staked out a spot for herself four rows back (as is only right for a backbencher1) and below or south of the central gangway. 1959 it was time for the annual ballot to select which backbenchers would be given Parliamentary time to introduce their very own Private Members’ Bills2. Soon after Parliament convened on October 20.3 First of all she considered selecting a certain technical legal matter to remedy but even to her. 4 A closed shop is a situation in which only union members may work at a particular place. British MPs do not have assigned seats in the chamber. 47 . it was too boring and her heart was not in it. 2 A Private Member’s Bill is a proposed law introduced by a member of parliament. She’d never won a raffle in her life and now here she was in a prime position to legislate. To get your own Bill turned into an Act you need three things: first the sheer luck to come in the top few slots — only the top two or three stand any real chance. a lawyer. 3“Talking out a Bill” happens when an MP opposed to it simply talks so long there is not time for a vote. It was to this very spot that she returned 31 years later to see out her last months in the Commons before entering the Lords. So what was the issue? The British press had long enjoyed the statutory right to attend meetings of local town and city councils and to report on proceed1 MPs are either frontbenchers as in they speak from the front row officially for their party — this includes Ministers and Shadow Ministers — or they have no such responsibility and therefore are backbenchers.4. she duly put forward her name and was totally astounded to come third. whether from the government or the opposition side. Indeed when more than half of the 600+ members turn up then the surplus has to stand or sit on the floor or steps as indeed they do. In Westminster the overwhelming majority of bills introduced are proposed by the Cabinet. second the support of the Government or at least no active opposition from it. And she could get interested in it and passionate about it.
She had thought of speaking on some of the technical monetary issues raised by Lord Radcliffe in his recently published Report on the 1 Public Choice theory is the use of economics to study the actions of voters. starts with at least five minutes on the marvels of your predecessor who is clearly second only to the Pope. This right however did not extend to committees and even the full council could bar the press by declaring itself to be a “committee of the whole council. She had yet to make her first or maiden speech in Parliament. A former Attorney General comes forward to help on drafting and a junior Minister from the relevant department is magically at your elbow and this is how she came to meet her greatest ally Sir Keith Joseph Bt. She became so close to Keith that she dedicated one of her two volumes of memoirs to him. It was all a very cozy arrangement between the councilmen and their paid officials but it was an outrage and Mrs. Private Members’ Bills were debated on Fridays. This normally runs to 15 minutes. and finishes with five minutes on something non-controversial. politicians and bureaucrats as self-interested maximizing agents. Now she faced another decision. goes on to a five-minute segment on your new constituency which makes the Garden of Eden sound like a slum. 48 . her family and all who worked for her while Prime Minister. On both sides of the Thatcher Bill groups sprang up. the other volume was dedicated to Denis.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady ings. When the Government approves of the choice of such a Bill then the path forward suddenly clears.” The result was that many billions of dollars of taxpayers’ monies were being spent in secret. Most members tried to get away back to their constituencies on Thursday evenings so the Commons was often empty. the newspaper editors and journalists to support it and the local authority councilmen and their officers to oppose it. Margaret Thatcher MP was outraged. She knew this from observation and to counter it she wrote personal handwritten letters to all 250 Conservative backbenchers asking them to attend. The whole experience was also for her an introduction into the economics of politics or what is now called Public Choice theory1 or the Virginia School of Political Economy as pioneered by James Buchanan (Nobel Prize 1986) and Gordon Tullock of northern Virginia’s George Mason University.
Opposition spokesmen said her speech was clearly of frontbench (as opposed to backbench) quality and the press hailed it as the best maiden speech by any of the new intake of 1959. huge for a Friday — her letters had paid off splendidly. On the big day the turnout was about 200. traditional Tory values were being ignored. she became the junior Minister for Pensions and National Insurance (NI)3 responsible to Cabinet Minister John Boyd-Carpenter. All three female members of the government showed solidarity by their presence and after a speech given without any notes her bill advanced by 152 to 39. Despite this early success. just shy of 36. On the other hand. She felt it would harm her chances of advancement. 3 National Insurance is the UK’s social security. Some 68 colleagues joined her and it was the biggest revolt of this whole period of Conservative Party rule namely 1951–1964. Elected Working of the Monetary System. but willing and able women were in short supply among Conservative backbench MPs and the Government could not be seen to be reducing their numbers in the ranks of Ministers. 2 A very high number of new MPs were elected in 1959. To her there was too much appeasing of special interests such as the unions and too great a propensity to rush after the latest leftist fad. she often felt out of step with “modern” Conservative thinking. though not without some epic fights as it went through all its stages — quite an education for a brand new MP. so this was significant praise. so that. a door opened and in the fall of 1961. So when one of only three wanted to leave government.1 but she could not prepare her Bill and at the same time draft the 30-minute speech that would be needed to introduce it. her maiden speech was one introducing a Bill. socialism and communism were not being vehemently countered with free-market arguments. uniquely (as far as I can discover).4. He kindly met her at the front door on her first day — she was so touched by this 1 She had a deep interest in monetary policy as early as 1959. 49 .2 The Bill duly became an Act of Parliament and thus the law of the land. All this boiled over in her one and only revolt against the Whip in 33 years as an MP. She spoke and voted in favor of the caning and birching of violent young offenders.
New Zealand. Two days after her 39th birthday she held her own seat in Finchley. In early 1963 President Charles de Gaulle vetoed Britain’s proposed entry into the Common Market (later renamed the EEC or European Economic Community and then the EU or European Union). Over the next three years she served three different Ministers. the Brits had their special relationship with the United States and with their Commonwealth of some 50 countries including Canada. Back in 1961 the system’s flaws were apparent. Margaret Thatcher MP was just right for handling them. that taxpayers’ pension contributions are linked to their pension entitlements. Australia. for whom this was absolutely meat and potatoes — if not milk and honey. To Mrs. She relished the grind of mastering all aspects of the complex problem and then mastering her socialist opponents. Margaret Thatcher MP. South Africa. thus making the plan even more unsound. he lost the fall 1964 General Election and socialist Harold Wilson moved into 10 Downing Street with a majority of four. A year after Douglas-Home became Prime Minister. It was a case of over promising. The Ministry for Pensions and National Insurance no longer exists. Today pensions are with the Department of Work and Pensions and NI is with HM Revenue and Customs. This French rejection was nothing but a minor trade matter. this was not much more than a vague irritant compounded by the ethnicity and attitude of the man saying “non. and so on. as first Macmillan and then Sir Alec Douglas-Home shuffled the deck chairs on the sinking Conservative liner.” After all. Pakistan. at the outset Lord Beveridge had suggested a 20-year wait to allow funds to build up. and many on the right. and the analytical tax-lawyer mind brought by Mrs. In all fairness. India. as the United States Social Security program does.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady gesture that she made sure she always did the same later as Education Secretary. based on an optimistic scenario and implying. but once the plan caught the public’s fancy it became difficult not to introduce the benefits immediately. albeit with a majority cut to 50 .
it prevented retailers from competing on the basis of price cuts. Under that system there was no shopping around. muddled over economic policy.4. and for Richard Branson to start Virgin) but it cost the Conservatives dearly and at 39 she was to spend the first half of her next decade in opposition. Second. a natural conservative constituency. Based on an IEA report by Professor Basil Yamey of the LSE. the suddenly cheeky and irreverent British press had savaged the old patrician Douglas-Home who had had to resign from the Lords and win a seat back in the Commons in order to lead. tainted by scandal.1 This move by Edward (Ted) Heath (President of the Board of Trade) was warmly supported by his colleague Margaret Thatcher. well. Heath had stopped the practice of having manufacturers stamp the prices of products on the packaging. namely international issues.000 by a determined young Liberal named John Pardoe (later MP for North Cornwall. it was 19 shillings and 6 pence in every shop in the land. Douglas-Home had campaigned on his own turf. pretty much ignoring the so-called bread and butter matters that interest the electorate. 1966 to 1979). Third. Consumers saw this as a rip off because it prevented retailers from offering discounts. And the socialists could always outbid them on the public spending front. stayed home at best. but small business proprietors. First. It was almost a miraculous result for several reasons. Elected some 9. If a new Beatles record album was 19 shillings and 6 pence in a local shop. 1 The Conservative Party was also tired after thirteen years in power. This practice was ended (which by the way allowed for the creation of the supermarket. 51 . in other words. which did not then exist in the UK. annoyed with the French veto. the Conservatives had alienated the small business vote by abolishing Retail Price Maintenance (RPM) in the immediate run up to the election.
These last three were in the Shadow Cabinet. over a six-year period she mastered five new and different Shadow briefs: Shadow Minister for Housing and Land. Margaret Thatcher MP increased her own majority to 9. and Shadow Minister for Education. Opposition I “I am in politics because of the conflict between good and evil.1 Ted Heath quickly trounced all before him. Margaret Thatcher at first had wanted to support her north London constituency neighbor Reginald Maudling (Barnet) but had been convinced by her now close friend Sir Keith Joseph that Ted was the better candidate. and I believe that in the end good will triumph.500 over Labour. 53 .” The closeness of the 1964 result meant a second General Election as in ’50/’51 would come sooner rather than later. Shadow Minister for Transport. Starting as Shadow Minister for Pensions. Shadow Minister for Tax. Now each MP was to have a vote. Harold Wilson duly asked Her Majesty the Queen to dissolve Parliament and in March 1966 came back with a majority of +97. with Liberals now in third.5. Shadow Minister for Fuel. 1 Previously leaders had “emerged” through consultation. The Conservatives moved rapidly to dump Douglas-Home and elect a new leader.
to allow abortion if the health of the child or mother could be compromised. she voted to decriminalize homosexual conduct in private between consenting adults over 21. close to Parliament and “within the bell. Lamberhurst was underused. Work in the Shadow Cabinet was a big disappointment. It was sold in 1972 and the funds released went in part to purchase the Flood Street. It fully matured however with two long coast to coast tours in early 1967 and early 1969. 2 Free vote means no Whip. However. near Tunbridge Wells.000 (economy) inflation adjusted to today. Her love affair with America — as already noted — had begun in Grantham and blossomed during World War II. 10 Downing Street in 1979. and against a bill to abolish the death penalty for murder. The highlights of the late sixties were her first visits to the United States. The swinging ’60s saw a tsunami of social legislation hit Westminster. There were so many philosophical differences between its members that any serious discussion of principle would inevitably lead to cracks and divisions. 54 . against making divorce easier.”1 They also purchased a big eight-bed “pile” at Lamberhurst.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady On the personal front the Thatchers sold their home in Farnborough and rented a 7th floor apartment at Westminster Gardens on Marsham Street.2 For the record. What a curious mix! For a conviction politician she seems to have taken an extraordinarily pragmatic case-by-case view of matters. She felt she was there as “the statutory woman” who was not expected to say much at all. One consequence was that people tended to go 1 “Within the bell” means close enough to Parliament to be able to get there and vote before the lobbies close. In the 1960s such fares were very expensive — say $10. so MPs can vote according to their conscience. the first run by the US Government’s International Visitor Program (IVP) and the second by the English Speaking Union (ESU). often with parties allowing a free vote. Nowadays MPs carry pagers but in the 1970s being within the bell meant Margaret could go home in the evenings. These days trans-Atlantic flights are cheap thanks to deregulation and people think nothing of a quick trip to the United States. with the children now in their teens and many of their boarding school chums living in London. on which they personally did a great deal of painting and decorating. Chelsea home where the Thatchers lived from 1972 up to the move to No.
1 Margaret Chase Smith was in 1948 the first lady elected to the Senate in her own right. He noted that “she didn’t hesitate to express her views” and that she was “a politician who was not seeking support for her own personal advancement. and 1 Community Affairs. 5 Information. She landed in Washington DC on Monday. 2 Labour. Over the next week. March 3. 4 Education.” Overall he felt she was “the outstanding lady in the House of Commons at that time. March 2. On Friday. John McGregor and Francis Pym. through Thursday. She was also the first lady to be nominated for the US Presidency by one of the major parties when she came second to Goldwater at the 1964 Republican National Convention. at his own expense. she visited a Du Pont facility in Wilmington — an odd choice until one realizes that Denis was accompanying her. she met a score or more of top DC officials from Senator Margaret Chase Smith1 through every conceivable economics/tax agency to the Departments of State and Defense. Margaret Thatcher MP had been talent spotted by William J Galloway. Two previous female Senators were appointed although one (Hattie Carraway of Arkansas) was subsequently elected. People chosen were totally free to devise their itinerary with a program officer and were paid a per diem of $25 or $30 for VIPs. To adjust those for inflation.5. Galloway wrote of her that she has a “very strong will” and “high standards of ethics and morals” with “tremendous self-confidence” he commented. Her first with the IVP was to last 6 weeks and her second with the ESU some 29/30 days. 55 . Extensive research on her trip by Giles Scott-Smith concludes that the American officials making her appointments were selling her “as a possible future PM” and nobody “raised any questions about that description” although it was twelve years to come and she had yet to be so branded in the UK. One of his big jobs was monitoring the Conservative Party. February 20 and spent two days finalizing her itinerary.” Note the “the”! The US Embassy had 30 invites to issue to Brits in 1967 and allocated them to 11 Parliamentarians. three were to serve Margaret in Cabinet. 2 Government Affairs. 5 Cultural Affairs. Opposition I for much longer trips than now. namely Patrick Jenkin. 1st Secretary at the US Embassy in London. add a zero! Of the other ten Parliamentarians selected in 1967.
Florida. At first it was suggested she go for March of 1968 but Edward Heath refused her permission to be away for such an extended period. and Mrs. Possibly she felt the few days devoted to Denis’s interests had to count against any R&R.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady After a very short break (maybe only one night) with friends in Delray Beach. San Francisco. How the ESU knew of her visit and how its officers could call it “highly successful” is not explained. March 30. Thatcher continued to Atlanta. Chicago.” She had been back in the UK from her State Department International Visitor Program visit for only a few weeks when on July 14 Sir John Slessor of the English Speaking Union (ESU) wrote to her saying that following her “recent highly successful visit” to the US the ESU was “most anxious” to have her speak to its branches there. Reports of her many daily appointments contrast her forthright views on pretty much any and every topic with her charm. The idea of mid-October to mid-November was rapidly rejected by Frances L. He wanted her at the Tory Party Conference ending October 12. Mr. A tour at this time 56 . the summer was discussed but it was noted that “she never lets anything interfere with her children’s summer holidays. She thought his permission was a formality but he argued that a number of matters needing her attention might possibly come up at that time. she had already been gone for six weeks in term time. After visiting with other friends in New Jersey and attending a performance of “Il Travatore” at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Next. New York. In her reply she referred to the 1967 visit and wrote “I have been eternally grateful for the wonderful experience it gave me. Indeed. Houston.” so the third week of September would be the earliest she could start. Boston. Meetings routinely ran on well past their scheduled close. she flew out on Thursday. Heath again intervened. Omaha. Director of the Speakers Department at the ESU’s US National Headquarters in New York. Los Angeles. McPheeters. It is also noteworthy that other than fleeting visits to friends in Florida and New Jersey she did no sightseeing at all. In 1987 Galloway wrote to Prime Minister Thatcher to congratulate her on her third victory. and Albany.
like everything of this kind to have the ‘personal angle. for a time she did Scientific Research. There was a policy of discouraging speakers at such times and they felt so strongly about getting Mrs. she will almost certainly be one of its leading Ministers. There are far too few people in politics. She was first trained as a Scientist. and Law is an excellent training for anyone who has the responsibility for law-making through the legislature. taking degrees in Chemistry at Oxford University. She maintains that her two earlier careers have been a great help in her political life. When the Conservative Government lost the election in 1964 she became active on Opposition. With McPheeters reporting “unusual interest in your coming. After two years she was made an Under-Secretary to the Department of Social Security. qualified as a barrister and practiced for 7 years. April was difficult — indeed impossible — for Mrs. The ESU ruled out May because “it is begining (sic) to be very hot in the southern states. She became a Member of Parliament in 1959 for a North London constituency. During the ten years she has been in Politics she has made rapid progress up the promotion ladder. Katharine Winn at the ESU’s London offices requested “chatty and personal biographical notes” — something more interesting than the Conservative Party supplied as “the Americans…. who are trained Scientists.” wrote McPheeters to Thatcher.” they settled on March 1969 and Heath gave full permission in writing. third Fuel and Power and now Transport. first Housing. she says.5. although this is an age of rapid scientific development. and was appointed their official spokesperson for several different Departments. Finally focus moved to early 1969. When the Conservative Party wins an election. At present she is the only woman in the 57 . Thatcher as the twins would be home for the spring break. second Treasury. Thatcher that it would be “a waste and a pity” if that was the only time she could find. To help sell her to the US Branches. She then turned her attention to Law. Opposition I would straddle the November 5 Presidential election of Nixon versus Humphrey. an appointment which she held for three years.’” After a lot of “bullying” by ESU London staff she personally dropped off at its West End offices several sheets of House of Commons stationery on which she had scribbled the following profile of herself: Margaret Thatcher has had three separate careers in addition to being a housewife with a family. specializing in taxation matters. children are finishing school and people are thinking more about summer vacations than Anglo-American relations.
who is a Director of Chemical and Oil Companies. she married in 1951. In private life. many countries in Europe. Mrs. Mr. Boy–Girl twins Mark and Carol were born in 1953. just five minutes away from Parliament. but is educated in England. and in 1967. struggles to look a bit younger but enjoys every moment of her crowded life. and are now at boarding school. ESU staff in both London and New York peppered their US contacts with extraordinarily enthusiastic letters about this “extremely pretty and attractive… up and coming Cabinet Minister” who is “a very good advertisement” for the UK and “one of our very bright girls in Parliament. Carol has already visited the United States. an industrialist. and a good deal of broadcasting. and insists on going to Opera or to concerts from time to time.” Here is how she described the first two to the ESU: 58 . and half an hour by car from her constituency.” Unlike her earlier trip however she was never touted as possibly the first female PM. The final vital statistic — born in October 1925. She has visited West Africa. 45 miles out of London. it is particularly satisfying to do something with your hands.” She is also promoted as a “first-class speaker. Mrs. Thatcher offered four speeches as follows: ŪŪ “The Challenge to Democracy” ŪŪ “Preparing for the Future — Britain and America” ŪŪ “Race Relations — Problems in the British Commonwealth” ŪŪ “The Final Political Problem — Freedom versus Communism. Reaction from the Branches was quick and positive and there were soon worries she would be over-worked as she could give them “only” 29 days. as one of her school friends lives near Washington. spent six weeks on a coast to coast tour of the United States which she enjoyed enormously. She says that if you work with your brain most of the time. It is very interesting to see how she saw herself at the time. She enjoys cooking and likes to collect international recipes wherever she goes. She also likes art and would not wittingly walk past an Art Gallery without going inside to look at the paintings. Thatcher has a flat in London. She is very practical in Household matters and has done a good deal of the interior decoration of the house herself. she does a lot of speaking and lecturing. and a country house in Kent. Denis Thatcher.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady Edward Heath Shadow Cabinet. the Middle East. With this record and background. She loves music.
145 Sloane Street. He replied saying he could not do this automatically and needed Bank of England permission. It discusses the tendency towards nationalism and separatism in the nations of the world.5. less faith and more doubts about the future of our democratic system? The lecture concludes that there is much to be optimistic about. ready cash. In those less stressful days she was asked to report to Victoria Station in central London only 90 minutes before take off at Heathrow! She complained repeatedly to the organizers of her trip that they tended to call her The Honorable Mrs. long since privatized as British Airways or BA. Hewett at The Midland Bank. less tolerance. Margaret Thatcher MP “although she is not a widow. 1 BOAC was the nationalized airline British Overseas Airways Corporation. In the late sixties British travelers were still restricted to a £50 currency allowance. The ESU wrote to her Bank Manager. and re-affirms our ability to overcome these problems. are we experiencing more violence. more protest.” she had had occasional bad experiences on her 1967 trip on the money. C. Opposition I Under the title “Challenge to Democracy” she says: “This is a discussion of the present discontent and shortcomings in our Society. Bearing in mind the inability of each nation to impress its theories on others. While she was described as “not in the least grasping.” Under the title “Preparing for the future: Britain and America” she says: “This talk explains the special relationship between our two countries in the past and its relevance to the future. each pursues its own ends. and its significance in the coming years. Why. B.” Then there was the question of money. Denis Thatcher MP when she was not entitled to “The Honorable” and much preferred Mrs. Mr. and an attempt to analyze some of the causes. when material prosperity and Education has reached a higher standard than ever before. What can we do as nations to solve these problems?” Her outward flight on March 1 from London Heathrow to JFK was booked “economy” on BOAC1 and a £5 10 shillings insurance policy was purchased. London asking for more than this. She has to fill in Section 3 of Form T! Just days before she left the UK. her secretary called the ESU asking whether all of the $15 per diem allowance could be advanced on landing at JFK. 59 .
Her itinerary. on March 14. who you so kindly arranged for us to have as our speaker for the Annual Luncheon of the Central Florida Branch. Oh — and to help. Denis Thatcher. Louis and Kansas City. still marked Mrs. 60 . Margaret Thatcher talk to Mrs. Given she could take so little sterling.” “People and Places. Forest Ridge. then to San Francisco. the ESU was more thoughtful. Thatcher was also told that if McPheeters failed to meet her at JFK. The ESU ladies quickly assured her office that she would be very well looked after. Indianapolis. Baltimore and finally Philadelphia on March 29. Kathleen Wareham of Three Corners. Birmingham. Back east she moved on to Orlando. She conquered! Which of course can mean only one person — the stunning Mrs. “Her opening meeting in New York had been a great success. and Los Angeles where she was to address the World Affairs Council.” and “Britain in the Reign of Elizabeth II. Mrs. a New York City map would be in with her plane tickets. Washington DC. she wanted a wad of dollars to hand. Kent who had just done a long tour of the United States. Having said that. Nashville. 122 East 66th Street.” her secretary Miss D Powell was told in a March 13 letter from the ESU. Atlanta. started on March 1 in New York City and after a speech at SUNY New Paltz moved west to St. Taggart. Wareham had lectured in the Southern states on such topics as “Fleet Street and Newspapers. McPheeters in the NYC ESU office: “She came. Ladies on such long tours with multiple one-night stops and many different types of functions faced particular wardrobe issues. From Florida Mary R. Denis Thatcher MP. Rave reviews soon started flooding in to ESU in NYC and London and from there to her House of Commons office. Mrs. She saw. On other matters. they pointed her toward an important collection she might visit near the Cosmopolitan Club. The ladies at ESU London suggested Mrs.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady transport and hotel front. Keston.” And knowing of her love of art. Palm Beach. Branch Secretary of the Central Florida ESU in Winter Park. then she was to take the airport bus into central Manhattan and then find the Cosmopolitan Club. reported back to Frances L.
Was told that they did not have enough MPs as speakers. and enormous numbers of students.” McPheeters also heard from James (Jim) H. Palm Beach: Very monied! Full meeting. The lunch invite describes her tour as “highly successful. Winter Park: Audience consisted largely of retired professional people. and found the audience was not well informed on World Affairs. audience included members of the Diplomatic Corps. Next day spoke to New York State University at New Paltz. Very English. Attended private Dinner parties. More interesting audience with a wider age range. Parker III in Kansas City. Opposition I There were 150 members and guests present and each and every one was charmed not only by the speaker’s good looks but her very brilliant talk…our grateful thanks for your help in making this the outstanding program of the year. Two months later Sir John Benn of the ESU hosted a lunch for her to report back. which developed into one woman Brains Trusts. Some English Brains Drains! Was shown transit system. delightful to talk to but elderly. Thatcher is charming and her talk was tops. She was told afterwards that in their experience it was rare to find a good woman speaker. Kansas City: Rather a similar branch. Mrs. In the US state universities have no power to refuse students. Los Angeles: Spoke for the World Affairs Council. Hectic weekend including TV appearances etc. Thatcher had to answer questions for 1 hr and 10 minutes. “Mrs. San Francisco: Excellent hospitality.5. Business men etc. Atlanta: Spoke to a Business Men’s Luncheon. They have colossal funds. It was badly organized but gave her an opportunity to see something of the Student problem. Don’t know if we’ve had anyone ‘go over’ better!” And while the audience in Nashville was described as small (but see below). unconnected with the ESU. It was a triumphant march and she flew back just as the twins got out of school. and there is little to no contact between them and their teachers. Went very well. It was useful to 61 . St Louis: In addition to speaking.” Here is the ESU minute of her remarks at that lunch: New York: First engagement was a Ladies Luncheon. the publicity was eye-popping. arranged by BIS.
Good Mayor. Many questions were asked about Students in the UK.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady talk to them and Mrs. The next day he invited Margaret Thatcher to join his Cabinet as Secretary of State for Education and Science. The investment by the State Department and the ESU was to pay handsome dividends. 1970. She accepted. GENERAL COMMENTS: Felt that the British still have much to offer the Americans. She was 44 and in the Cabinet. and had more distant objectives in view than just parochial ones.” She also went to the USSR and had a very different experience and set of reactions! On June 18. in the way of know-how and diplomacy and that each Nation is complementary to the other. Could do with some more rest periods. A little over a year later Margaret Thatcher was in Cabinet as Secretary of State for Education and Science. Baltimore: Elderly. Birmingham: Very good people at the top. “The excitement I felt has never really subsided. Good questions and contacts with Universities. Washington: Appeared on TV as well as speaking to the branch. Excellent ESU meeting. Ted Heath defeated Harold Wilson and quickly moved into Downing Street with a majority of +31. Thatcher thought they had great potential. Philadelphia: Not particularly interesting. From the woman’s point of view she should take a large supply of Cocktail and Evening Dresses. She later wrote. 62 . Indianapolis: Not a very thriving branch. No problem with colored people. and McPheeters in NYC (ESU) wrote a congratulatory note to Winn in London (ESU). Televised live. These two back-to-back extended trips to the United States totaling 10+ weeks were clearly extraordinarily important in her personal and political development. Nashville: The nicest branch of all! The members had their feet on the ground.
and some taller than others and they often have it in them to do so. On the left of the Conservative Party there were many who favored the abandon1 British Cabinet Members are answerable to Parliament and therefore must be members of either the House of Commons (lower house) or House of Lords (upper house).6. 63 .” She entered a department wedded to central planning and the idea that nanny or “the man in Whitehall” knows best. When a Prime Minister wishes to appoint an outsider (a very rare circumstance).1 Cabinet colleague Jim Prior reports that Ted Heath called him before her appointment and said “I’ve been discussing who we might need as our statutory woman. We start first with her life as Education Secretary then examine her role as Cabinet Member. then the person in question is either made a member of the Lords very quickly or a by-election has to be equally quickly arranged in a safe seat (by making the incumbent a Lord). She was only the second woman to serve in a Conservative Cabinet.” “Let our children grow tall. Most are members of the former. Coupled with this was the ideological rift on education within her own party. Churchill’s Education Minister 1951 to 1954.” For nearly four years she served in the government of Edward (Ted) Heath as Secretary of State for Education and Science. Education Secretary “It sometimes strikes me that more people are interested in education for reasons of egalitarianism than for reasons of education. the first being Florence Horsburgh.
The withdrawal of these circulars had been a clear manifesto commitment and on her eighth day on the job they were withdrawn. and her brisk action woman do-it-today-not-tomorrow style grated. she rejected over half its plans and saved eighteen grammar schools. While her civil servants were “professional. She had inherited two socialist policy circulars to the local authorities which run education on a day-to-day basis in the UK.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady ment of selectivity and its replacement with comprehensive education for all. In the late sixties and early seventies a group of British education policy experts with a passion for reform as well as a sense of humor published the Black Papers. The truth of the matter is that she landed in that job just as the wave was cresting and without her presence many more such good schools would have been closed. 64 . Her detractors revel in pointing out that she killed more grammar schools than any other Education Secretary. Arguably her finest moment as Education Secretary came in her first month.” like most of America’s public school system. indeed within just twelve days of the election and eight days of entering her department.” the ethos of the world of education was overwhelmingly socialist in the sense that it was driven by notions of “equality. they were replaced by a new circular stressing local needs. Her most notorious policy however was to withdraw “free” school milk for 7. One circular demanded that all such authorities submit to the Department plans for going totally comprehensive. The second said that authorities which refused to submit such a plan would be deprived of capital funding. She instinctively and intellectually sided with the latter while the political reality of the day rested with the former. the wise use of resources and a presumption against upheaval. not even her focus and determination could turn back the tide of comprehensivization that was then sweeping the country. the long serving careerist officials of both her Department and the teachers’ unions were inordinately friendly toward each other. The 1 British governments consult through Green Papers and set out policy in White Papers. In Birmingham alone. Even as the foundations of the Berlin Wall were being chipped away.to 11-year-olds and to increase school meal charges. While she saved many grammar schools. while on the right the authors of the Black Papers1 championed choice and vouchers. which moved from Conservative control to Labour in 1972.
Education Secretary former led to the often heard chant by marching demonstrators: “Mrs. in one case paying to replace free school milk at primary schools adjoining a campus. otherwise your degree would not be conferred on you at graduation.1 And few students realized what was going on. Baldry later worked for Margaret Thatcher and became an MP and junior Minister. The unions then used such funds. with only days to go before graduation.. The socialist government of the day refused to let it be called the University of Buckingham and award traditional “degrees” so it was “University College at Buckingham” and awarded a License.e. 65 . near Brighton.6.3 She proposed to take the funds going directly from the authorities to the unions en bloc and instead give such monies to the students themselves individually who could then shop around between the various activities on offer. Milk Snatcher. quite large amounts. including the union dues. Thatcher. as usual taking her duties very seriously indeed. Sir Rhodes Boyson MP) told the author that Departmental officials were so hostile to a private university that all correspondence from Buckingham was hand delivered by messenger to him at home: “If they’d sent it to the Department it would have been ‘lost’!” In “retirement” Margaret became Chancellor of Buckingham. 1 The late Lord Harris of High Cross used to tell the story of how he and his daughter Angela managed not to pay student union dues at the University of Bradford until. It was a step too far. Even then the relevant education minister (Rt. or as daughter Carol said. He won and Baldry versus Feintuck was a landmark case. Dr. You had to join. i. It was only when Margaret Thatcher MP became Prime Minister that it was given a Royal Charter and could then use those previously banned words. 3 This was the University of Sussex. my mother was public enemy #1. Britain had no private universities then. south of London.2 If you were accepted to a university then (unless you were quite well off) all your fees were automatically paid by your local education authority direct to the university. 2 In 1976 the University of Buckingham was established as a private institution.” She also moved forward suggestions to reform campus student unions. outside the scope for which funds could be used. They were closed shops.” And it earned her the title of most hated woman in Britain from a tabloid newspaper called The Sun. “When I was at university. not only for the social enhancement of the university — athletic clubs and societies and so on — but also to support other social causes. she was told her qualification would not be conferred unless she paid the union. A second-year law student named Tony Baldry successfully sued the local Student Union President on the grounds that such payments were ultra vires. Hon.
and her ideas on defunding their student unions. the combination of a major strike at a northern bankrupt ship-building firm called Upper Clyde Shipbuild1 Backbench MPs called on to address Parliament by the Speaker do so by simply standing up in their seats. Ministers and Shadow Ministers however move to one of two wooden boxes which can be used as lecterns on which they spread out papers and files. To begin with. Spending cuts were implemented.” Specific promises included the reduction and reform of taxes. and she had had much firsthand experience countering the strong views of the left over issues from “free” school milk. cutting public expenditures. moves to control the unions began and income tax and corporation tax were cut. an end to nationalization. however. 66 . incentives for saving. The two current boxes were gifts of the Government of New Zealand when Parliament was rebuilt after being hit by a German incendiary bomb in World War II. she had become a top class performer at the Dispatch Box1 in the Commons. “greater freedom of choice” and “greater freedom of regulation and freedom from interference.” In early 1972. “greater freedom of opportunity”. all looked fine. grammar schools. By the spring of 1972 it lay in tatters. stressing “the security and independence of personal ownership”. If her time at Education can be described as an undergraduate course in applied politics then her time in Cabinet was her master’s and her PhD. The Conservative Party Manifesto of 1970 was of a populist right wing free-market nature. and creating a better climate for free enterprise. The boxes contain bibles used to swear in new members. she and her Education Department began to pale against bigger broader issues.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady She came out of her 3+ years at Education with three advantages: she now knew firsthand how government at the highest levels worked or often did not work. However as the Heath government of 1970 to 1974 ground along. and from then right up to his defeat in February 1974 Heath (and his Cabinet) went in a totally opposite direction. The first sign of what became known as U-turns came with the bailing out of Rolls Royce in early 1971 which went directly against the policy of no “lame ducks.
a three-day working week was instituted to save energy4 and another major confrontation with the heavily left-leaning National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) was bearing down. 297 to 301. and tripartite talks with the unions (TUC)1 and big business (CBI). Also the Wilsons did not move back into the apart- 67 . Indeed the far left in the unions. were clearly trying to protect their interests by other means. Bush in 2000 but garnered fewer Electoral College votes. The burning question of the day on all lips and minds was “who rules: the miners or the government?” Prime Minister Heath dithered. 10 and it does not have a key hole.6. His industrial relations strategy collapsed. In the end Heath won the popular vote by over two hundred thousand5 but came second in seats to Harold Wilson’s Labour.” Unfortunately for Prime Minister Heath. so if you did not double your salary every 28 months you fell behind. 10 Downing Street. clearly not wanting an election. 4 Interestingly industrial output did not drop much (if at all) and certainly not the 40% one might expect showing just how much over manning existed then. a statutory pricesand-incomes policy of the sort President Nixon was also introducing. In came the inflation of the currency. After a weekend of failed talks with smaller parties. knowing full well they were completely unelectable at the ballot box. 6 There are no real keys to No. 2 The CBI is the Confederation of British Industry the UK’s NAM. Out went any idea of relying on the self-correcting mechanisms of the market economy. Had he gone for early February he might well have won but instead he opted for February 28.8%. Education Secretary ers (UCS) plus an industrial dispute with the coal miners plus unemployment topping one million led to a full scale retreat. massive daily intervention in all aspects of the economy. 3 Inflation was soon to hit close to 30%. 1974.2 A new breed of corporatist socialism was the order of the day and by 1973 Heath was lashing out against a company called Lonhro as “the unpleasant and unacceptable face of capitalism. matters went from bad to worse. or even flight. Heath resigned and Wilson once again had the keys to No. The highest annual rate hit was 24. 5 In the UK you can win the popular vote but still lose on seats won. just as US presidential candidate Al Gore officially won half a million more votes than George W. Instead the entrance is manned 24 hours a day. inflation3 and interest rates soared.2% in 1975 but one annualized monthly rate hit 29.6 1 TUC Trades Union Congress the UK’s AFL-CIO. and bad news piled up. rout.
meaning he was not just a barrister appearing in court to plead cases but rather a very senior one. Mary Wilson had so disliked) from 1964–1970. namely that on controlling prices and incomes. This inevitably means that those to the far left or right on that side can be easily ignored. She also followed with interest a lively moment when Britain’s “Milton Friedment atop of No. 10 (which Mrs. Margaret Thatcher was still very much the statutory woman. The Prime Minister chairs it not from an end but rather from half way down one side. Geoffrey Howe QC. and Nicholas Ridley MP who had resigned as a Heath minister over statutory price and incomes controls. 4 Senior members of Parliament are made members of Her Majesty’s Most Honorable Privy Council and thereafter enjoy the title Right Honorable. markets are busted instruments. And we have to recall that Heath had unexpectedly beaten Wilson in 1970. This was after all a woman who had nearly made her maiden speech in 1959 on monetary policy. 2 It was as if Heath was deliberately putting the free marketers into jobs they would find unacceptable. Hon. She and her chum Sir Keith Joseph were the chief free market economic liberals in the Cabinet but Heath kept them in big-spending departments and outside his economic policy inner circle. which is shortened to Rt. Instead they remained at their home in 5 Lord North Street and Harold commuted the few hundred yards. 3 The size of the Cabinet varies but is usually in the low twenties. Jock Bruce-Gardyne MP. and the great misogynist Heath had her parked at the end of the long Cabinet table — just where he could not see her. she kept lines open to the economic liberals in her own parliamentary party such as John Biffen MP. Throughout. but without freely moving prices.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady What of Margaret Thatcher throughout these tumultuous months? By her own accounts she played little if any role at all. Then they were joined by a third such economic liberal.1 but he was put in charge of implementing the single most anti-market of all of Heath’s policies. Rt. Hon4 Enoch Powell MP.3 At times she thought of resigning but realized that such a gesture would have been utterly futile. Heath was the leader of her party and Prime Minister of her country.2 Such policies may be motivated by a desire to limit inflation. Loyalty runs deep in Margaret’s veins and she was a team player while privately harboring serious doubts on virtually every single one of the main economic policy issues. 68 . 1 QC stands for Queen’s Counsel.
How well would she learn it? 1 Conservative MP Rt.6. If you favored a market economy. official documents of the era have been released in recent years and show a clear pattern of deception. it was hard to be against the Common Market. so Britain moved closer to and finally joined the European Economic Community (EEC). in which he argued that Brussels was dominated by an interventionist spirit. Walters predicted it would lead to inflation and he was asked to leave. 69 . or Common Market. the courts would not be affected and British law would prevail as always. Enoch Powell warned of the changes as did journalist Russell Lewis in Rome or Brussels?. clashed with his boss Prime Minister Heath over loose monetary policy.1 However Heath’s own advisers2 had predicted trouble. The arguments presented were purely ones of free market economics: it was all about the free movement of goods. but he was right and Heath was wrong. Political ramifications were downplayed. Education Secretary man. She and 99% of other economic liberals were very much in favor of this move.3 In retrospect. 2 Under the 30-year rule. We now know Heath’s top constitutional advisers were warning him that signing the Treaty of Rome meant a serious surrender of sovereignty. as it was called. Hon. labor and capital. 3 In 1972 Heath told the British that joining the Common Market would not erode national sovereignty and that worries about losing independence were completely unjustified.” Professor Alan Walters (later to be her personal economic advisor for two spells). her first taste of Cabinet government can be summed up as a long lesson in how not to govern. and Heath has since been accused of knowingly and willingly tying Britain’s hands by signing over important economic decisions to an unelected group of bureaucrats overseas in Brussels. with the points being made that the UK was not giving up any sovereignty. published by the IEA in 1971. As the government’s economic policy unraveled.
support the police. put by a nest egg for a rainy day. 2 “Green Belt” is the concept of declaring thousands of square miles of land around cities unavailable for development. Every outlet carried endless stories about the unfairness of a property-value based system which charged a widow us- 1 This was a new department created during Heath’s premiership by amalgamating the Ministry of Public Buildings and Works and the Ministry of Housing and Local Government and the Department of Transport. Reflections “My politics are based . live within your means. While some “green” issues came under its umbrella it was mostly concerned with housing. high interest rates. On local taxation. In the meantime Ted Heath promoted Margaret Thatcher to Shadow Environment1 Secretary. on things I and millions like me were brought up with. the “green belt”2 policy and other impediments were making the dream of home ownership more and more distant for many and suddenly an issue again to the forefront of British politics. planning costs and delays. local government and zoning. called rates. pay your bills on time. there was annual pressure from the media for reform. and she reveled in mastering a raft of housing and local taxation issues. 71 ..7. On the housing front inflation.. An honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay.” With no overall majority Harold Wilson was bound to go back to the country very soon to ask for a clear mandate and working majority.
Her close friend Keith Joseph was in the Shadow Cabinet with her but had no departmental portfolio.” 72 . Chief Administrator (then 1 He was later a key advisor to Sir Geoffrey Howe over the suspension of exchange controls. the former journalist and communist machine gunner in the Spanish Civil War.2 Chief fundraiser was Nigel Vinson. It was also too quick to shoot its messengers and too slow to examine the content and real detail of the message. Heath’s own economic advisor Adam Ridley1 sat on the board and Keith Joseph invited Thatcher to become his Vice-Chairman. While she had rebelled but once and never dreamt of leaving. a family of five consuming far more. yet to be devised.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady ing tiny amounts of local services exactly the same as. which she gladly accepted. to cap mortgage interest rates at 9½% by means of tax relief to the lenders rather than subsidies. Chief Guru was Joseph’s fellow Jew. Alfred Sherman. say. Soon after the February 1974 general election he received Heath’s permission to establish a new body called the Centre for Policy Studies (CPS) to help him in this endeavor. In addition to these three an unlikely cast of characters was assembled. While she was having a very good summer that raised her profile and standing in her party and around the country. See Chapter 21. deeper waters were being explored elsewhere. a successful businessman “on loan” from the Board of Trustees of the free market IEA. In the end she went into the fall 1974 general election as Shadow Environment Secretary on four related platforms: to give those living in public housing the right to buy their own homes with a one-third discount off fair market value. and he was a second cousin to Nicholas Ridley MP. She had never felt totally comfortable in her home in the Conservative Party. rather he had a wide brief to reexamine policy. she was never entirely happy. to help first time buyers on the mortgage deposit front. and to abolish the current local tax system of rates and replace it with a new. fairer system. And it never seemed able to give the electorate an internally consistent message based on principle. She had from her earliest days in politics felt that her party was too slow to criticize the left and too quick to embrace socialist fads. 2 Alfred was later famously to declare “I invented Margaret Thatcher.
challenging virtually every populist policy tenet of the past three decades and lumping them all together as “socialist. Margaret Thatcher became increasingly involved with the CPS and its mission and this challenged her to read and think more widely than past years as Education Secretary had allowed. Reflections and later for many years) was another ex-journalist Gerry Frost. Surrounded by people who had been preaching a consistent free-market approach for years. Meanwhile another General Election threw her to the front on the housing and local taxation issues but as expected Harold Wilson got a somewhat clearer mandate leading the Conservatives by 319 to 277. rich. Its other role was to act as a high level secretariat for Joseph as he began a series of major public lectures around the UK.7. whose sense of humor and orderliness kept the place running. And it was not a do-tank. It was primarily a talking shop where journalists. The source of his wealth became apparent when he was jailed for cocaine trafficking. not Ted Heath. In practical terms this meant the government would be walking on eggshells. Sherman and Frost. For the Conservatives. she began a thorough wide-ranging period of reflection on what she wanted to achieve and how she was going to achieve it with Keith Joseph — preferably with him as Conservative leader and Prime Minister. 73 . Finally there was a somewhat mysterious. concerned with policy dots and commas. She also began to immerse herself in the writings of and lunches at the IEA on the corner of Lord North Street (named after the unfortunate British Prime Minister who lost the American colonies) and Great Peter Street. With other parties in the picture this meant an overall majority of just three. wheeling and dealing on many fronts to keep a day-to-day majority. it meant Ted Heath had lost three out of four general elections. not like the IEA which had been pumping out free market studies for two decades by then. academics and Conservative politicians were pushed into thinking the unthinkable by Joseph. who wore many hats.” regardless of who had been in power at the time. The CPS was not a think-tank as such. fashionable and iconoclastic character named Martin Bendelow. once in 1966 and twice in 1974. people such as its Directors Ralph Harris and Arthur Seldon and many academics and intellectuals.
a Canadian-born political scientist and psephologist tossed another name into the pot — namely that of Margaret Thatcher. of course. perceived as self-important and needlessly offensive. But as the BBC election night coverage ended in the dawn light of October 10. The Tories wanted and needed new leadership and the consensus was that it was a two horse race between Keith Joseph and William (Willie) Whitelaw. 74 . the odds were stacked against her.” But Heath was a surly. Bob McKenzie.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady If he had been a likeable. I jotted down the last lines of his speech as follows: “I. bitter bruiser. He also chaired the discussion sections of each episode of Milton Friedman’s Free to Choose.2 Despite the plug Margaret Thatcher received from Bob and the favorable coverage she had been receiving in The Spectator from Patrick Cosgrave.” 2 McKenzie was an LSE graduate and taught at the school from 1949 to his death in 1981. He was a household name in the UK for the “swingometer” he used on BBC television to translate percentage swings into actual numbers of seats. with Robert Carr a third possible.1 Even his great friend and Cabinet colleague Jim Prior described Heath as “unapproachable” and “given to rudeness” showing “boredom quickly if he finds people uninteresting”. pleasant man then the Conservative Party might have overlooked 1966 (he’d only just become leader then) and counted 1974 as one giant election — and hadn’t he won the most votes in February 1974? His few friends said he was really “1 and 1” or even “2 and 1.” not “1 and 3. as shown below: William Whitelaw Robert Carr Keith Joseph Peter Walker Jim Prior Margaret Thatcher 5-4 7-4 7-2 10-1 10-1 50-1 1 In 1994 the author hosted a lunch party for over 50 opinion leaders at the IEA in Westminster to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of Heath introducing legislation in the House of Commons to abolish resale or retail price maintenance. His 15-minute speech (given without notes) was utterly brilliant although he made one significant error when he claimed that records (like books and certain medicines) had been exempted. the former of the new right and the latter of the old Heathite left. affable. Not true! This speech came between the publication of Margaret’s two volumes of memoirs (1993 and 1995) and their publication was clearly irking Heath. 1974. have been far too busy advising world leaders to engage in something as comparatively trivial as writing memoirs.
75 .7. Fifty-to-one in a six-horse race are very long odds. Reflections It wasn’t looking good for her.
And this was hardly new or even seriously contestable material. If you’re Classes 4 or 5 take the pill. Obscure bishops. fed permissiveness and subverted morals.” Within days of the fall 1974 general election Joseph’s chances of ever leading the Conservative party had fallen to zero. was to put them on the pill. the least able to raise kids. If you want anything done. Leader “In politics if you want anything said. polytechnic lecturers and two bit novelists queued up to denounce “the mad monk” as a eugenicist. Just over a week after the ballot boxes closed he spoke in Birmingham on how socialism undermined the family.” 77 .1 The leftist chattering-classes exploded instantly in righteous indignation. pop performers.8. ask a woman. If you’re Classes 4 or 5 take the pill. The solution. He was trying to do for social affairs what he had been doing so well for economic affairs. Unfortunately for Keith it contained a passage about the balance of the UK’s population being threatened by the large and rising numbers of children being born to young unmarried mothers in the lower classes (classes 4 and 5). he said. ask a man.” to the tune of “If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands. It made Margaret Thatcher’s own experience as the infamous “milk 1 Hence the student song: “If you’re Classes 4 or 5 take the pill. If you’re Classes 4 or 5 you’ve no right to be alive.
he reportedly welcomed the idea of help from Margaret Thatcher despite his being firmly in the Heath leftist ideological camp. Mrs. 78 . November 21. not weeks. for she was made deputy Shadow Chancellor1 in charge of opposing the upcoming Finance Bills. She was absolutely brilliant. The vicious reaction to the Birmingham speech had broken the nerve of this unfailingly polite and scholarly man.” he lamented to his PPS David Mitchell MP. She proclaimed: “Somebody representing our point of view has to stand. He had been Employment Secretary and Home Secretary in the Heath government. Within days. A reshuffle in early November played very much to her talents as a tax barrister and detail maven. while for once reaching out to Conservative MPs. “I would not get the answers right often enough. the constituency which would soon decide his fate and quite possibly elect his successor.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady snatcher” look tame in comparison as Joseph was pilloried and found his home and wife besieged by antagonistic journalists for weeks. On Thursday. so I will stand. Heath meanwhile was doing everything he could to delay the inevitable (namely a new election for party leader). not only in command of a major quite technical brief but also in control of the most severely critical debating chamber in the world bashing up senior leftists seemingly at will and bringing her own side to their feet cheering like they had not done for over a year. Thatcher’s immediate response was that somebody had to stand both against Heath and as standard bearer for a new conservatism. Keith Joseph broke the news to Margaret Thatcher that he would not stand.” And later: “We have to rethink everything!” 1 The Shadow Chancellor was Robert Carr. What a breath of fresh air! As November dragged on it became clearer by the day that a new election would take place for the Conservative Party leader. and that if Keith Joseph was not willing then she surely was. Only the details had to be ironed out. this gave her ample opportunity to shine in the Commons before the very men (mostly) and women who would soon be voting either to reaffirm Heath or to go for an alternative.
8. November 25 (after discussing it all with Denis over the weekend)1 she saw Heath and broke the news. use one now and save a couple for the next time because they will have surely gone up in price. but he stood ready as ever to support her: “You must be out of your mind. Former Prime Minister Douglas-Home had been asked to look at the rules (used only once before for Ted’s own election nearly a decade earlier) and had come forward with the following: ŪŪ There would be an annual election for leader.” 2 At 20% inflation prices double every 3½ years. 3 At 30% inflation prices double every 2⅓ years. law and order. private property. soon to be all but 30%!3 In the interview she had mildly suggested that if you saw two or three cans of something you use regularly at a low sale price then buy them all. and mumbled: “If you must”. thrift and decentralization. The “hoarding” scandal erupted around her but she weathered it more than gamely and in the end her down to earth housewife’s insights probably did her more good than harm. You haven’t got a hope. Some reports have him predicting “you’ll lose!” To her it was both futile and arrogant to deny past failures. He reportedly glared. Her leadership would stand for individual responsibility. ŪŪ Any member of the Parliamentary Party wanting to stand needed only a proposer and a seconder. 79 . turned his back on her. Her party had lost four of the last five elections because many people felt that too many Conservatives had effectively become socialists. And the contrast between the way she handled the pressure and the way Keith had handled his difficulty only weeks earlier was truly stark and duly noted by fellow MPs. 1 He thought she was mad to try and would lose. Immediately she declared her candidacy however her enemies went to work. Leader On Monday. Next came the issue of the rules for the election. ŪŪ The franchise was limited to Conservative MPs. She was just 49 and it was as if her whole life had been building up to this very moment. Months earlier she had given an interview to a magazine for retirees many of whom were on fixed incomes and were being ravaged by 20% inflation2. choice.
On the second ballot only 140 would be needed. having escaped from Colditz Castle. 4 Shelton’s classmate and close friend at Tabor Academy in Marion. then the top three would go forward to a third ballot at which MPs would have a first choice and second choice vote.1 The third and final relevant issue was the matter of Edward “The Duke” du Cann. and returned to the UK via Switzerland. As soon as du Cann was out of the running. A team of supporters quickly formed around her. supposedly escape-proof German prisoner of war camp in World War II. Spain and Gibraltar. so there were scores to settle. 1975 that du Cann declared he would not run. He too had suffered at Heath’s hands and also had a major score to settle. ŪŪ If nobody won on the first ballot.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady ŪŪ To win on the first ballot you needed 50% of all eligible to vote and you needed to have a margin of victory of 15% of those entitled to vote over your nearest rival.4 They were joined by TV producer Gordon Reece. Massachusetts was Ed Clark who ran for President of the US in 1980 on the Libertarian Party platform. Would he run? If yes. 3 Neave later served at Nuremberg with the International Military Tribunal. This opened up a clear path. Christmas beckoned with no decision and it was not until Wednesday January 15. France. Neave was a remarkable character. Once home he became an intelligence agent at MI9 whose sole job was to build underground lines of safe homes on the European continent so that others might emulate his feat. what would she do? If both ran they would split both anti-Heath feelings and the “right” vote. 80 . MP for Streatham in south London. Heath had to have a minimum of 138 and be 42 ahead.3 His chief lieutenant was the American educated William (or Bill) Shelton. Angus Maude MP (who with Neave had been cruelly mistreated by Heath years earlier) and journalists such as 1 Given 276 MPs this meant that to win on the first ballot Mr. 2 “The Duke” had been a Director (even Chairman) of Lonrho a year earlier when Heath had held it up for general ridicule. Heath had also sacked Du Cann as Party Chairman in 1967.2 the powerful and newly re-elected Chair of the 1922 Committee and arch Heath critic. and ŪŪ If still nobody had won. then at a second ballot one week later (at which new candidates could enter) only 50% of all eligible to vote +1 was needed to win. his chief aide Airey Neave MP moved to her camp as campaign head. a top.
After all. Neave and Shelton were relentless. both at its Committee Stage2 and when it came back to the House of Commons. 1975 Margaret Thatcher spent the day battling socialism in the Committee Room of the Finance Bill while her colleagues voted on her future close by. They sit high above the UK’s House of Commons and daily write satirical. Wisely. columns about the goings on before them. By contrast Heath’s team was much more relaxed and outwardly confident. In the late afternoon Neave brought her the news: Mrs. 3 Brother of Lord Lovat (war hero) and husband of Antonia Fraser (author). 4 The second round was known as “the coward’s round” because brave people do not have to wait and see how the first round went. This last name must have 1 Sketch writers do not exist on US newspapers. Hugh Fraser Abstentions Total 130 119 16 11 276 Within hours Heath and Fraser announced they would stand down and four new candidates suddenly threw their hats into the ring4 namely arch-Heathite William Whitelaw. “Peter” Utley. 2 The Committee Stage of a bill is when the real nitty gritty detail is discussed. many of the people observing her were her constituents for this election. Neave told Thatcher that she ought to focus on the Finance Bill and do her utmost to shine. E. often very funny. Leader The Daily Telegraph parliamentary sketch writers1 John O’Sullivan and Frank Johnson (who wrote “the Tories need more men like her”) and the blind editorialist T. Hugh Fraser. February 4. Edward Heath Mr. Margaret Thatcher Mr. Heath’s Transport Minister John Peyton and Thatcher’s fellow free-market advocate Geoffrey Howe.3 entered the fray. boasting that they would win on the very first ballot. who oddly enough had applied to be MP for Finchley back in the late 1950s. Matters were further complicated when a true backbencher and total no-hoper. going over lists of names constantly and not checking off somebody as a definite supporter until they had several clear pieces of evidence from different sources. Heath’s Common Market negotiator Jim Prior. On Tuesday. at least.8. 81 .
Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady
both rocked and disappointed her. Surely Geoffrey had been on her side in the first ballot and was he now about to split the free-market right thus depriving her of victory possibly? She need not have worried.1 Her courage in taking on and seeing off Heath, her base of 130 votes and her rolling, well-managed bandwagon swept all before and a week later the figures were:
Mrs. Margaret Thatcher Mr. William Whitelaw Sir Geoffrey Howe Mr. James Prior Mr. John Peyton Abstentions Total 146 79 19 19 11 2 276
What had she gotten into?
1 Howe’s intervention did come close to sending the whole process into a 3rd round as he took 19 votes and Margaret Thatcher was only 6 over the winning line of 140. Had a 3rd round proved necessary, however, there would have been only one candidate, Margaret Thatcher!
9. Opposition II
“What Britain needs is an Iron Lady.” “I usually think that epithets signify more about the author than about the subject.”
There was huge interest in the novelty of a woman who could — given the Government’s tiny majority — very rapidly become Prime Minister and the first female leader of the western world. Everywhere she went the police miscalculated the expected size of the crowds that would turn out by a factor of ten. As soon as word of her presence spread, people flooded out to see her out of interest and curiosity. And foreign leaders such as Henry Kissinger and Pierre Trudeau stopped by to check her out and to have their photos taken with this attractive vivacious 49 year old. Her first job was to appoint a Shadow Cabinet. In some quarters it was assumed she would purge the Heathites and appoint members of the “Goldwater tendency,”1 as some of her enemies called it. Rightly or wrongly she did just the opposite. First she asked Heath for his help, offering him a senior job. He turned her down flat and spent the rest of his life resisting her inexorable rise. It has been called the “longest sulk in history.” Second, she appointed a Shadow Cabinet to unite her deep1 As in Senator Barry Goldwater, who ran for US President in 1964 on a free-market platform.
Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady
ly divided troops. Whitelaw, who had been runner-up to her on the second round, was made deputy leader. A whole raft of ardent Heath henchmen was given top jobs.1 From her own philosophical perspective, however, Sir Geoffrey Howe became Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer and Sir Keith Joseph had overall policy coordination while three no-nonsense greybeards were moved into key jobs: Lord Peter Thorneycroft2 as Party Chairman, Airey Neave MP as head of her personal office as well as Northern Ireland spokesman, and Angus Maude MP as overseer of the Conservative Research Department. It was more of a peace offering than the Heathites had dreamed possible. Indeed one wonders how many of these men present at her first Shadow Cabinet meetings had voted for themselves or other men and not for her. She readily and openly admitted that as a woman her voice could at times be a problem in the rowdiness of the House of Commons. Any attempt on her part to overcome vicious leftist barracking, often alcohol fuelled and of a deeply offensive sexist nature, pressed her voice up an octave and into screeching territory. She obtained serious professional help on a whole range of issues from tone and timbre to wardrobe colors and eye contact. Actor Sir Laurence Olivier was very helpful. When Jim Prior commented on her new deep, sexy voice, she replied: “What makes you think I wasn’t sexy before?” The Labour Party in the House of Commons was indeed very well organized, ferocious and deeply patronizing in its attempts to undermine her, and as she addressed them across the Chamber she knew that many at her back were just waiting for her to fall. In addition to Olivier, TV media expert Gordon Reece transformed how the TV media networks were approached. Instead of the media having to take whatever bones got chucked its way, now everything was carefully planned and choreographed to suit the news schedule.
1 Reginald Maudling: Shadow Foreign Secretary; Ian Gilmour: Shadow Home Secretary; Michael Heseltine: Shadow Industry Secretary; Jim Prior: Shadow Employment Secretary to name but four. 2 She always admired Thorneycroft for his 1958 resignation as Chancellor along with junior Treasury ministers Nigel Birch and Enoch Powell over what they felt to be an unwarranted and unjustifiable increase in public expenditure. Macmillan dismissed this incident as “a little local difficulty” and this phrase is often used today to insinuate the very opposite.
9. Opposition II
One immediate result was that her Fall 1975 speech to her Party Conference, her first as Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition, was a rollicking foot-stomping success as she attacked socialism as the arch enemy of freedom and presented a principled conservatism rooted in private property, markets, liberty, smaller government, choice, and the rule of law. The 3,000 or so constituency delegates loved it — what a change after decades of lukewarm government paternalism, easily labeled socialism, dressed up as middle-of-the road conservatism. Margaret Thatcher had three problems with the middle of the road. First, you get run over by traffic from both sides. Second, as the Labour Party moved to the left, so the middle moved with it. Third, Labour tended to introduce new entitlements which were hard to unpick, so there was a ratchet moving the political scenery ever closer to the left ever closer to her much hated Moscow and ever further from her much loved USA. There was much to keep Opposition Leader Thatcher busy over the next four years. Her mail box was huge, her diary was full, her Cabinet needed constant attention and steering, she had to perform in Parliament and there was a lot of thinking and evangelizing to be done both inside and outside her party. And all the time she had to be ready for a snap general election as the socialists’ overall majority finally disappeared in November 1976. The big issue was the economy: how to heal the sick man of Europe. To her it was not brain surgery. If you lived within your means (as in taxes not to exceed expenditures); if you brought borrowing down and paid off debt; if unions were brought under the rule of the law; and if monetary expansion could be stopped thus halting overall increases in the price level, then all would be well. Oh, and no more bailing out lame duck industries. Within all of that the two big issues were the unions and inflation. The 1970-1974 Conservative government had tried and failed to deal with the unions and had indeed been brought down by one union namely the NUM. How would things be different now? Inflation was just as tricky. It is almost comical now to look back and read the many explanations proffered at the time for rapidly rising prices from unions and wages to the weather and the Arabs. Fortunately the IEA had been bringing Chicago School Nobel-winning (1976) 85
monetarism (with its 18 month lag) meant that the high inflation of the first year and a half of Labour was all down to her own party. record inflation. what is more. 2 In the ’80s the author visited Dr. It was the economic equivalent of E=mc2 and she was enraptured. “Belong to the Friedmans?” I asked. a crumbling currency. If daily strikes. “How did you guess?” he asked. crippling taxation. the need to borrow £2. I pointed to the white Cadillac at the garage entrance bearing the license plate MV PT. in the universities and in and around Westminster.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady economist Milton Friedman to London regularly as well as publishing and widely distributing his tracts. Chatting with the doorman. From Galbraith to Economic Freedom. namely one that is a) totally self sufficient. and interest rates in their teens were not enough then add trouble with Iceland. While she had no problem with monetary theory. Unemployment Versus Inflation?: An Evaluation of the Phillips Curve. Monetary Correction: A Proposal for Escalator Clauses to Reduce the Costs of Ending Inflation. Rhodesia and Northern Ireland. 86 .2 This appealed to Thatcher’s scientific brain and. loony tune union leaders.1 It was from Friedman that the British intellectual classes learnt that inflation is always and everywhere a disease of money. Print extra money now and in about 18 months prices would go up. And politically. first written out by Chicago’s Irving Fisher but later popularized by Milton Friedman. Friedman at his San Francisco apartment. a Prime Minister (Wilson) drinking a bottle of brandy a day and convinced the secret service was plotting to kill him. However the economy was in such seemingly irreversible decline that the Opposition was batting on a very good wicket to use a well recognized cricket allusion. and b) totally under state control. completely mystified.5 billion from the IMF. most of her Cabinet was intellectually committed to Keynes and bitter debates raged in the press. and far left wing leaders such as Tony Benn demanding Britain become a siege economy. 1 See Friedman’s Inflation and Unemployment. There was even an equation for it all. there was data and the data fitted like a glove. The equation reads: MV = PT The amount of money around (M) multiplied by its velocity of circulation (V) equals the price level (P) multiplied by the number of transactions (T) in the economy. A money supply increase now equalled inflation in 18 months’ time.
Abolishing the Monarchy and nationalizing all undertakers (after all if profit is evil then profit from death must be doubly so!) are typical of the ideas they pedaled. As 1977 and 1978 ticked by her big chance got closer by the day. both so very prominent in local government in London at that time.9. While Wilson had been on the verge of a breakdown he had been for Opposition Leader Thatcher a tough foe at the Dispatch Box given his huge experience. Callaghan was a different matter despite his utterly patronizing attitude toward her and she grew in confidence as her performances soared. as in local property taxes. Smiling Jim.a. Rates. in Red Ted’s borough of Lambeth were going up 30% to 40% each year. Opposition II It is hard for Brits to recall today not only the dire state of the economy but also the reason why Benn and others were called “the loony Left.” There was “Red” Ted Knight and “Red” Ken Livingstone.k. However by the following year he was a broken man and made way for James Callaghan a. Her close friend and adviser. Ralph Harris wrote: “Cheer up: things are getting worse!” 87 . Prime Minister Wilson won the 1975 Referendum on the UK’s continued membership of the European Economic Community 67% to 33% on a turnout of 65% with Thatcher’s support.
they did get air time! It has since been claimed that while she was told they were the words of St.” British General Elections are called by or forced on Prime Ministers at very short notice. Two days later. April 26. Power “Where there is discord.10. may we bring faith Where there is despair. 89 . However he successfully argued for Thursday2 May 3 as the Government needed a few days to tidy up business. However. may we bring truth Where there is doubt. 2 British General elections are traditionally held on Thursdays but there is nothing to stop other days being selected. In 1931 the General Election was a Tuesday and in 1918 it was a Saturday. may we bring hope.1” “Give me six strong men and true. Margaret Thatcher lost her 1 These words of St. They were chosen for her by a speech writer called Ronnie Millar and all one can say is that they are not really appropriate or remotely Thatcherite. Callaghan had lost a vote of confidence 311-310 on Wednesday March 28 and an election could have been held as early as Thursday. and I will get through… very rarely did I have as many as six. Francis they were in fact some more modern anonymous verse. Francis of Assisi were quoted by the new Prime Minister on entering 10 Downing Street. on March 30 during this period of phony war between the parties as they geared up for the real thing. may we bring harmony Where there is error.
and two that the CIA had done it to promote American policy of a united Ireland. To uphold Parliament and the rule of law. true. The distinction or rather usage goes back to a 1952 speech on prohibition by Mississippi lawmaker Noah S “Soggy” Sweat Junior. As he drove up the steep incline of the exit a mercury-tilt based bomb exploded underneath his auto and blew off both his legs. He lived for his beliefs and now he has died for them. She led tributes to him saying “he was one of freedom’s warriors. About 3pm that afternoon he got into his car at Westminster in the deep underground car park beneath the grounds west of Big Ben. 3. Overall it was summarized as follows: 1.” The Winter of Discontent gave her the chance to firm up. The immediate explanation was that this ex-intelligence officer was slated to get the job of Northern Ireland Secretary and the IRA and INLA feared he might be a great deal more effective than his socialist predecessors. 1 In British politics. to review the legal immunities enjoyed by trade unions and to guarantee that individual workers could go about their daily routines free of bullying intimidation. To restore incentives so that hard work pays. “wets” are to the left and “drys” are to the right. Not for the last time was she to be robbed of close friends by murdering Irish terrorists. staunch. 90 . a splinter from the Irish Republican Army (IRA). Airey Neave. by controlling inflation and striking a fair balance between the rights and duties of the trade union movement. theories galore surfaced over the years as to the exact who and why. Courageous. Responsibility for his murder was claimed by the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA). wartime escapee hero and Thatcher’s right hand. to dry out what had been a very wet. soggy. The main planks were tax cuts and restoring law and order but there were significant pledges on the union front namely to make secondary picketing illegal. pusillanimous draft manifesto1. success is rewarded and genuine new jobs are created in an expanding economy. 2. Other theories to emerge regarding who was to blame were one that the Brits own intelligence services had done it because they feared a massive shake up once Neave was in the Cabinet. To restore the health of our economy and social life. As with so many such killings.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady great friend and ally Airey Neave. was dead an hour later in nearby Westminster Hospital.
by helping people to become homeowners. She crisscrossed England.3m 1. raising the standards of their children’s education. and Scotland and her travel schedule was often leaked so as her Battle Bus drove from town to town hundreds of well wishers lined the road with a wave.7m Seats 339 269 11 16 Compared to Oct ’74 +62* -50 -2 -10** 1 Party political broadcasts are “free” three-. But they were stuck back in the “village” of Westminster which has but one industry (politics) while she was out and about in the country meeting real voters and feeling them respond positively to her message of hope and change. was much more forthright and full of references to choice. the sick.5m 4. However. freedom and liberty and much more damning on the union question than her colleagues back at Party HQ wanted. She had little time for the professional pollsters who were capable of showing her 20 points ahead one day and 1 point behind the next. Power 4.10.1 To her Heath’s vision was as bad for the country as the socialists’ and her Party Chairman received a good dressing down. four. Minor parties have to run a substantial number of candidates before they qualify. and concentrating welfare services on the effective support of the old. 91 . she won handily with a majority of 43 over all others: Votes CON LAB LIB OTHER 13. at rally after rally. With Easter intervening it was. To support family life. However her rhetoric on the road.or five-minute slots on each of the five terrestrial TV channels. even by British standards. In the United Kingdom. but parties are instead allowed free broadcasts. a short campaign. 5. To strengthen Britain’s defenses and work with our allies to protect our interests in an increasingly threatening world. Wales. paid political advertising on television or radio is illegal. a message or a bouquet. While the idea of unseating the likes of John Fraser MP in Lambeth’s West Norwood — one of her stops — proved too ambitious. the division between her message and the vision of party bureaucrats (too many still in place from Heath’s era) became ridiculously stark when they suggested that Heath should do a Conservative Party Political Broadcast.7m 11. On election eve her HQ staff informed her that the numbers looked so good that a hastily arranged tour of Labour-held seats with quite good majorities had been put together. the disabled and those who are in real need.
7m votes garnered 16 seats.3m voters gained it a mere 11 seats whereas the more concentrated 1.2%) between the two main parties and the margin (2. deliver? 1* She lost only one seat. held by her great ally Teddy Taylor. namely Glasgow. Hence its 4. 6 months and 24 days. Cathcart.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady Both the swing (5.2 million) were the biggest since Attlee’s historic victory in 1945.1 Number 10 Downing Street was to be her home for the next 11 years. But he was soon back in Parliament in 1980 as the Member for Southend East following the death of Sir Stephen McAdden. ** “Other” parties such as those in Scotland and Northern Ireland tend to be very regional whereas the Liberal Party of 1979 did fight nationwide. Would she. And Margaret Thatcher had discovered Reagan Democrats well ahead of the President as the biggest swing to her had come from blue collar skilled workers and fully 33% of that had come during the campaign as she banged on about the unions. could she. coming mostly 3rd. 92 .
One of the earliest and most bold reforms was to break free of the Exchange Controls. The UK accounted for 20 per cent of world trade in manufactures in 1955 but only 10 per cent by 1979. You turn.) In late October 1979. the U-turn. Under the socialism of both parties the British economy was atrophying. Brits could now move around freely — they no longer needed to go to their banks weeks ahead of time. to beg for foreign 1 Robert W. That was down to 3 per cent by 1979. Prime Minister Thatcher’s Chancellor Sir Geoffrey Howe suspended exchange controls. the lady’s not for turning.11. I have one thing to say. Exchange Controls for Ever? 93 . It had exported 33 percent of the world’s cars in 1955. and the effect was the same. passport in hand. It was a brilliant move. Miller and John B. (These were the controls on the amount of sterling one could take abroad that had been introduced at the start of World War II. Primary legislation was needed formally to abolish the exchange controls. but someone1 had spotted that to “suspend” the exchange controls legislation was not required.” From being a dominant trading nation Britain’s presence on world markets had shriveled. Wood in a 1978 IEA monograph. Liberating the Economy “To those waiting with bated breath for that favorite media catchphrase. if you want to.
Limits on hire purchase were abandoned. the principles which guided her.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady currency — the tiny amount released being duly noted in said paperwork. They only had to remove the cobwebs of bureaucracy. But this chapter will focus on the broader economic philosophy and thinking. A striking aspect of this significant relaxation was that outside the Prime Minister and the Treasury ministers nobody was consulted. This altered the entire spirit of the Government. and we will examine the relentless way she set about selling her economic vision in speech after speech. All three had read Hayek and Friedman and knew their brief backward and forward. The general view was that if Prime Minister Thatcher had done nothing else over the term of her Parliament it would be voted a success just because of this one reform. Flanked by Geoffrey Howe and Keith Joseph. Centralized pay controls ended. Several square miles of London’s docklands. awoke from the torpor of municipal squalor and emerged as an entirely new and vibrant part of London. To replace the areas of economic dereliction created by the planning authorities. sale of public housing. evolved into one of the greatest commercial regeneration areas ever experienced. Mrs. It was plain to any observer that these bleak derelict acres were not caused by the depredations of “capitalism” but rather the mortmain of local authority sloth. No government spending was needed. 94 .. And 900 bureaucrats in the Bank of England could now be redeployed. Dividend controls were scrapped. the defeat of the miners’ union. The UK abandoned all price controls. The first budget of June 1979 set the tone: interest rates and monetary policy to control inflation. the reform of the unions and Thatcher’s attitude towards the EU — all very important. In later chapters we will read of denationalization. her entry into 10 Downing Street marked the repudiation of Keynes and the post-war Butskellite consensus. So did Industrial Development Certificates. It was liberating. to the east of the City (i. so no opposition could muster. and tax spending rather than income. Office Development Permits ceased. the financial district). contracting out. interview after interview. The Isle of Dogs.” The one in London.e. Thatcher authorized 21 “Enterprise Zones.
Such policies are directed in particular to fostering the more effective working of market forces and the restoration of incentive [sic]. 364 British economists went berserk and signed the following letter to the Times: We.11. So far as output and employment are concerned. as the Thatcherites were to say. “there is no alternative” or TINA. The Government. The Thatcher government replied: The Government has read with interest the four points to which these 364 economists subscribe. and has itself set out its thinking on this in evidence to the Treasury Select Committee. saw inflation was a disease of money supply and not the result of particular prices rising. however. In the face of tough times every previous government for decades had caved in. reflated and gone for wage and price controls. it was the budget of 1981 that really turned matters around and set the basis for 25 years of growth. and ŪŪ the time has come to reject monetarist policies and consider urgently which alternative offers the best hope of sustained recovery. She. who are all present or retired members of the economics staffs of British universities. He (not Prime Minister Thatcher) also famously coined the phrase. But experi- 95 . This was contrary to the established consensus. Liberating the Economy “Pay as you spend is better than pay as you earn. Prices are always moving relative to each other but inflation is the dilution of the currency by the state. the Government’s supply side policies have been designed with the objective of raising both output and employment specifically in mind. Prime Minister Thatcher knew better and pressed ahead to defeat inflation and restore fiscal responsibility. However. erode the industrial base of our economy and threaten its social and political stability.” said Chancellor Howe again and again. ŪŪ present politics will deepen the depression. agree [sic] with the substantial school of economists which do [sic] believe that there is a strong connection between monetary growth and the rate of inflation. and her Chancellor. are convinced that: ŪŪ there is no basis in economic theory or supporting evidence for the Government’s belief that by deflating demand they will bring inflation permanently under control and thereby induce an automatic recovery in output and employment. ŪŪ there are alternative policies.
Countries pursuing policies broadly of the kind being implemented here are those with the strongest industrial base. they are unable to specify any such agreed alternatives. the dynamic of both ever improving the private sector. Michael Foot — the then Labour Party Leader — challenged the Prime Minister across the Dispatch Box in Parliament. It wasn’t just holding her nerve in 1981 but also the ongoing rhetorical artillery barrage. One unknown Tory MP Christopher Brocklebank-Fowler went from obscurity to total obscurity by crossing the floor to join the newly formed Social Democratic Party or SDP. which had seemed to be Socialist planning.” she fired back: “Alan Walters and Patrick Minford. By the end of the 1990s they were emulating her. It is conspicuous that although the 364 economists assert that there are alternative policies. and are ultimately counter-productive. the Government totally disagrees with the assertion that present policies will deepen the depression and weaken the UK’s industrial base. She and (as her cabinet improved over the years) a growing percentage of her senior colleagues in the parliamentary party and the party at large were unashamedly pro free-market and pro tax cuts. It may be that this shift in perception is Mrs. It was the transformation of attitudes that to this day really made the difference. Thatcher’s greatest triumph. New horizons opened up as the thickets of controls were abolished. Could she name two economists who agreed with her? Two as opposed to 364! “Yes. suddenly became free market. He lost his seat at the next election and has since failed to be re-elected. The top tax rates had been brought down from 83% on earned income and 98% on so-called “unearned” to 60% and then 40%.” “A good job he did not ask for three. The future. For these reasons.” she said in the car back to Number 10 (perhaps a little unfairly). In the beginning of her Premiership her opponents were vehement in their hostility to economic freedoms. still high 96 . It is hard to recall how tough this battle was.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady ence has shown that injections of monetary demand can at best have limited effect.
” The whole balance of society shifted.” The twin star of the series was a ubiquitous civil servant called Sir Humphrey Appleby.11. The British public laughed at his every line but deep inside they knew he was real and they learnt a lot. By a subtle process the brightest and best no longer sought sinecures in the armpit of the state but fortunes in the markets. The idea that the man in Whitehall really knows best was finally put to rest and buried with the brilliant comedy series “Yes. Interestingly the Thatcher era marked a clear break in the type of person to lead the party and their economic background as this chart shows: Leader Churchill Eden Macmillan Douglas Home Heath Thatcher Major Hague Duncan Smith Father Lord Baronet Publisher Lord Small business Small business Small business1 Small business2 Small business3 97 Education Independent Independent Independent Independent State Grammar State Girls School State Grammar State Comprehensive State School . Liberating the Economy but a huge drop. Minister” followed by “Yes. (Indeed years later it came out that the writers Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn had interviewed a number of top civil servants and advisers and that many of the TV farces were based on reality. I once heard him say to a cheeky interlocutor: “I learnt my public choice economics from James Buchanan via the IEA. in other words a safe job in a nationalized industry. Prime Minister. Young economists in training in the sixties salivated at the idea of being a trainee at the regional electricity board. But by the eighties it was off to the City and a job in the private sector. Jay in particular to this day acknowledges this influence on his scripts. Even leftists of all parties today acknowledge the need for a vibrant private sector and low taxes to encourage it.) Jay had also studied “the economics of politics” as pioneered by James Buchanan and Gordon Tullock of George Mason University in northern Virginia.
Margaret Thatcher’s three consecutive electoral victories. Whether this will continue under the more patrician Cameron is not clear but it will be very hard to displace.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady Howard Cameron 1 — Failed Small business Small business2 State Grammar Independent 2 — Small to medium 3 — Not clear After a false start under Heath a commitment to free enterprise came to dominate Margaret Thatcher’s party. The State was no longer commanding and coercing. Britain ceased to be embarrassed by itself and came alive again. when the US reversed policy and set about rebuilding its economy with the Marshall Plan. Her citizens were free to follow the price signals of the market. The party of Butskellism became the party of Thatcherism. It was the confidence that the country could thrive that primarily explains Mrs. Save for the transformation of western Germany post-World War II. no European nation had experienced such a reversal and revival of fortunes. 98 .
Third was the “denationalization” of major companies moving them from public to private ownership.” “Labour believes in turning workers against owners.” When Margaret Thatcher came to power the commanding heights of the economy were in state hands. Privatization was to change all that. we believe in turning workers into owners. Selling Off Public Housing.12. badly run and losing money. It was to have three main prongs. but you pay twice to meet the ever increasing deficits of the capital investment. 99 . local communities were fiefdoms of municipal socialism that kept the streets dirty and the trash left to rot. The rubric of privatization covered all three moves. Second there was the “Contracting out” of public services such as trash removal to private firms. Privatizing the Commanding Heights “The lesson has been that when you nationalise an industry not only do you pay a higher price for its product. and a third of the population was in public housing not even able to choose the color of the paint on their government issued metal front doors. First came the “Right to Buy” scheme which gave sitting tenants in public housing a statutory right to purchase at a discount linked to the number of years spent paying rent — this is discussed in detail in Chapter 13.
John Major (Prime Minister Thatcher’s successor — see Chapter 21) was judged by local government officers to have been the “best” Housing Committee Member (1968–1971) in the history of Lambeth Borough Council meaning he vastly increased people’s dependency on the state. The argument went as follows: “If we denationalize then the other lot.1 And contracting out could be a two-edged sword. Steel had been nationalized in the ’40s. what if steel had been sold to hundreds of thousands of small owners. i. denationalized in the ’50s and renationalized in the ’60s. Vice Chairman ’69–’70. he asked. Comparing his three years with the three socialist preceding years. The intellectual case for “contracting out” came from an American MIT-trained engineer turned policy wonk. “contracting out” and “denationalization” got off to slow but steady starts before moving up the gears as the ’80s unfolded. 100 . just as happened with Fiat in Italy and with Volkswagen in Germany? Surely it would be very difficult to renationalize a widely-held business.” There was some truth to this argument. Bob Poole. This must have been unsettling. While the “Right to Buy” was quickly enacted and went off with a bang.e. new families housed in socialist projects jumped 66% and new construction of such project housing went up 130%. Yes it meant better services at lower cost but did the savings go to tax cuts or to yet more state provision of services? Finally there was a strong anti-denationalization thread. Some Tory local government leaders were almost as wedded to having a large stock of public housing as their socialist counterparts were. He pointed out in Goodbye to Nationalisation (1971) that steel in the past had been sold back to a small group of people. Instead. the socialists.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady Not all of the Prime Minister’s Tory followers were necessarily in favor of such policies. and Chairman ’70–’71. It was IEA author Russell Lewis — the man Margaret Thatcher kissed on election night 1979 — who solved this dilemma.. will only renationalize it when they get back in next time or the time after and that is very unsettling for the management — what management needs is stability to build world class organizations. In this book he explained how all you needed to 1 He was a Committee member ’68–’69. head of the Reason Foundation in Santa Barbara and author of a little book called Cutting Back City Hall.
” two for the Conservative Political Centre (CPC) and one for the newly formed Adam Smith Institute (ASI). Everything — literally everything — could be outsourced and he littered his book with examples and figures. Today the annual value of such contracts is estimated at £28 billion or $56 billion and a whole new industry has been established. “contracting out” spread like a contagious disease throughout the country. claimed councils saved 17 per cent on contracts by merely rehearsing the idea — their staff teams reformed their ways. Capita started out as a two-man operation in 1984 based at the Chartered Institute of Public Financing and Accountancy. at any time. Funnily enough many such firms are run by former local government officers who jumped ship from the public sector to the private sector and bid and won many early contracts knowing full well where the savings could be made. Yet it was still worth doing as the savings achieved averaged 22 per cent when roles were sub-contracted out to competing commercial enterprises.12. The author imported and sold quantities of this book. will save between 20 per cent and 40 per cent. became MP for Stirling 1983–1997. the local city public accounts watchdog. These monographs translated Poole’s work into an English context and. of Baruch College/CUNY. 1 Michael Forsyth. led by the Westminster City Council. Examples of “contracting out” are not limited to street cleaning and trash collecting but include road maintenance and a myriad of other services. including one to Westminster City Councilman Michael Forsyth.1 Forsyth proceeded to write three short monographs on “contracting out. Privatizing the Commanding Heights run a city was a CEO. He served as Secretary of State for Scotland 1995–1997. and any place. Professor Steve Savas. usually at half the cost and sometimes at one third.000+ copies. a lawyer to review contracts and a secretary. A prime example is Capita. For everything a city might want to do Poole found examples of private provision. To this day ASI says this pamphlet is its best seller of all time at 20. after serving as a Councilman for Westminster City Council. By 1992 with “contracting out” in full swing it was operating 15 different sites. who has studied the results of contracting out. He was elevated to the House of Lords in 1999 as Lord Forsyth of Drumlean. 101 . offers what he terms “Savas’ Law” — that contracting out any service. The Audit Commission.
Heath had sold off the travel agency Thomas Cook. treasury and financial services. at the time of grave financial crisis in 1977 Callaghan had sold off a chunk of British Petroleum (BP).. The rate of return on all the state’s ventures. human resources. Ireland and India. Indeed British expertise in this area is so high that whole firms of consultants go all over the world selling anything from pension provision to software solutions and human resources to financial services. the Channel Islands. large or small. necessarily placing the interests of all ahead of the interests of the few.000 at 250 sites all over the UK. never exceeded zero.000 million expressed in 1982 prices. While “contracting out” was an imported idea. information technology and software services. The total cost of capital write-offs and grants since World War II was given as £40. The claim seemed enhanced by the war effort where the government had commandeered resources to one end. and four public houses (i. pubs) in Carlisle!1 More seriously.e. Denationalization had flickered in the ’70s. 102 . During World War I the government took them over so as to monitor and control the consumption of alcohol by these key workers. But there had been no concerted campaign to get these loss-making behemoths out of the public sector and into private hands. leading to poor business performance and an ongoing drain on the Exchequer. It was not just a matter of stemming the red ink of subsidies. it was also a matter of exposing them to competition and the real world and developing wider public ownership of shares. The socialist claim was that primary industries and services owned exclusively by the state would serve the broader public interests far better than the “chaos” of the market. Mr. Yet nationalization was an economic disaster.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady Today it offers back office administration. strategic support and more and has a turnover of $3. denationalization was very much a domestic one which has now been exported to many parts of the world from Argentina to Australia and from Brazil to Bahrain.5 billion and a staff of 27. 1 The story goes that these four pubs were the only ones in a neighbourhood where munitions workers lived.
A key strategy was to involve the workers in every case by using a variety of tactics: offers of free shares. Finally there were seven others for a total of 38: 1. Nine have names starting or incorporating “British” or “Brit. Jaguar 6. Privatizing the Commanding Heights The big difference between the early 1970s and early 1980s was that the intellectual groundwork had been much better done by people who really believed in it and there was much greater political will. incentives to keep shares long term. matching programs — buy one. National Power 103 . Cable and Wireless 2. British Steel Then there were eleven electricity companies and eleven water companies. former Chancellor Nigel Lawson sets out a decade of sales. The inventory of nationalized bodies that were brought to the market is formidable. Amersham International 3. Individuals no longer acted as sullen trade unionists but as active investors. Everyone’s self interest became engaged in the success.” as in: 1. Associated British Port Holding 5. programs that reserved a certain percent of the float for staff and pensioners. in that case. British Telecommunications 6. British Aerospace 3. and no limits on the number of preferential shares that could be bought — once only. These ideas neutralized or converted opposition within the state’s industries. Britoil 4. British Airways and 9. British Gas 8. Enterprise Oil 5. get one free. British Shipbuilders and Naval Docklands 7. National Freight Corporation 4. In The View From Number 11. Rolls Royce and 7. discounts. British Petroleum 2.12.
Once private they were very much owned by the people and open to constant monitoring. Key to understanding what went on under her leadership was not just the movement from the public to the private sphere but also the gradual removal of statutory monopoly laws.” Initially it took real courage on the part of Prime Minister Thatcher and her ministers to force these rusting hulks out into the market. albeit at a much slower pace. As former Prime Minister Blair himself once said “What matters is what works. It is possible to criticize the wave of privatization as failing to break up monopoly status enough — BAA plc still owns all of the major UK airports as its public ancestor British Airports Authority did. Yet such was the success of the policy senior management of state corporations started to lobby ferociously to be the next in line for liberalization.200 staff in 1990.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady Every single one of these companies was transformed. These flotations had to appeal to the stock market. by 1995 after privatization it employed a mere 5. To monitor and police these newly created companies a new profession arose of “regulators” who could intervene to open markets up.100. The sheer burden of losses made it imperative to reform them and make them commercially viable. Captive markets were a guarantee of revenue — and dividends. And even today. privatization continues around the world and even under New Labour. These big companies were slothful because it was illegal to compete against them! Now in the private sector with their monopoly status going or gone they had to wake up or wash out. Elsewhere the author has summed up the benefits of this program as follows: 104 . A further key to understanding is that when they were “public” nobody really owned them and they were effectively private secret fiefdoms captured by the employees and managers. as the pioneers of this great movement all bask or doze on the red leather benches of the House of Lords. In some cases astonishing levels of over-manning were revealed as in National Power which pre-privatization employed 17.
Telecommunications in particular have benefited. ŪŪ More choice: The UK is now the only country in the world where even the smallest household consumer can choose between competing natural gas and electricity suppliers. ŪŪ Better management: The electricity generators have halved their costs since privatization. ŪŪ More investment: once privatized a long term view could be taken rather than the annual trip to see the Minister. ŪŪ Now whole shops stocking an incredible variety of equipment are a common sight. seen their bills cut by £1 billion since competition was introduced. ŪŪ Better measures: The privatized companies are now judged by the market and the managers are free to set goals. Privatizing the Commanding Heights ŪŪ Lower prices: Competition and the rooting out of bureaucratic practices inevitably lead to lower prices. ŪŪ Better quality: Anybody using a British phone today knows the connection is faster. for example. electricity and railways) were very vulnerable to strikes which have now all but disappeared. clearer and more reliable — as well as being cheaper. 105 . In the past they were judged and manipulated by politicians and the managers often found themselves set political goals such as creating jobs in a marginal area.12. you choose the time when they come to serve you. Domestic gas consumers have. journalists can investigate. ŪŪ More openness: Accounts are published. ŪŪ Fewer strikes: These industries (particularly coal. ŪŪ More innovation: Brits used to have two choices of phones: white or black. There has been a real influx of private sector management. ŪŪ Less corruption: 20 years ago there was a three month waiting list for a new phone and a £50 bribe (£200 or $400 at today’s price levels) was needed to get to the top of the list — today. Indeed 80% of all days lost to strikes in the UK today occur in the Post Office which was not privatized! By 1990 British industry had changed beyond all recognition. MPs get their questions answered and all Brits have a far greater knowledge of what is actually happening.
The British auction of its otherwise unrewarding industries was a true alchemy. Some argued on the grounds of liberal competitive capitalism. 106 . Liabilities became assets. The British processes excited policy makers in every nation. British companies were attributed with an acumen and competence that could be applied on every continent. Before these adventures under her leadership the world had only experienced the slow accretion of industries into state ownership. Others saw it as a hitherto unnoticed source of revenue.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady Privatization was dismissed by its critics as “selling off the family silver” but it solved many problems and it created a body of expertise that became attractive around the planet. it succeeded in producing the desired results. Whatever explanation one chooses.
Firstly the socialists realized that having large numbers living in public housing (or council housing as Brits call it) was a good vote-winner. Selling Off Public Housing “People will not value them (their homes) unless they pay at least something. Secondly the Rent and Mortgage Interest Restriction Act 1915 had brought in as a temporary war time measure a means for central government to control rents and protect tenancies. “Vote Labour and we’ll get you a council house.” — comment from Margaret Thatcher to the author When Prime Minister Thatcher’s father Alf was a young man. Local elections were as crude as the slogan. they would “build the Tories out of London.” The Conservatives had nothing to say other than to agree the gaunt municipal housing estates were the future. As the prominent socialist and later Cabinet Minister Herbert Morrison put it so neatly. the norm in Britain was to rent one’s home privately.” So the percentage living in public housing began to rise from close to zero in 1900 to over 30% by the 1970s. the rest owned their home or were in social housing of one sort or another.13. Over the next few decades that was all to change. About 90% of the population did so. This was almost pure patronage for the Labour Party. This depressed the 107 .
The tabloid press loved to regale Brits with photos of successful men driving topof-the-range Jaguars but living in council houses.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady rented sector hugely from 90% of the population privately renting in 1915 to 10% by the 1980s. The overall impact of these three moves was as follows: Private Rental 1914 1979 90% 10% Privately Owned 9% 53% Public 1% 37% Local authorities in the UK had always had the ‘right to sell’ — after all it was their property and they were free to dispose of it. did a third of the people need to live in public housing supported by the taxpayer? And of course people’s fortunes changed over time. This made no sense and was indeed offensive to those in real need. which proved successful among middle class voters who could afford the extra repayments. The most successful before Prime Minister Thatcher got to work were those in Birmingham and Greater London. They allowed tenants to buy (in the case of Birmingham at a discount). After World War II. Only a foolish owner would rent a property as the tenants had far greater rights. In a wealthy country. there were rumblings in some of the more intellectual corners of the Conservative Party about the size of the public sector. seeing the gift of an apartment or house to a voter (plus partner) as a valuable piece of political candy. This lead to a flood of people buying homes and private ownership duly rose by over 10 million units between 1914 and 1981. Politicians of all parties however were reluctant to sell. At the local level Tories began to experiment with schemes to encourage the purchase of homes by their tenants. and that they would at some point purchase these homes. however. Despite these schemes 108 . And in the early days of public housing there was a sense that tenants were being given a hand up. Thirdly over time tax relief was given on mortgages for house purchases making that option much more advantageous. not a handout.
so you would literally be better off to say to the Director of Legal Services in a city. But she was slightly reluctant. Walker in particular pushed hard for very radical action to get lots of housing out of state hands and into private ones. “please mail every single property deed to the sitting tenants for free today. How would they react if people round the corner suddenly got a third or even more off their home? A significant number of Labour Party MPs and officials however thought the right to buy would be “lethal” in many areas. to embrace this idea fully. This proved to be a real lesson in political entrepreneurship.” I pointed this out to her as Leader of the Opposition in 1978. both senior MPs in her party. even giving the properties away was a good idea at the time. to which she replied: “People will not value them unless they pay at least something. On the income side they got the rent. as were many Tories. they succeeded (along with other schemes in Liverpool and other cities) in doubling the amount of public housing sold from 4. plus the interest on the money borrowed to build the houses or apartments in the first place. lethal as in deadly to their electoral chances.979 units in 1968. many of their natural supporters had scrimped and saved for a deposit and to qualify for a mortgage. Two unlikely allies came to her side on this issue.13. both highly successful in business and both well to the Left. Authorities faced one income stream but three expenditure flows. Selling Off Public Housing being in operation for only a year before the Labour government of the time closed them down.” As noted earlier she had in fact championed sales with a one third discount off the fair market value of the property in the October 1974 election. but many tenants were on housing benefit so the net rent was a lot lower than the gross. plus repairs. In many places the administration and repairs would cost more than the net rent. They were Peter Walker and Michael Heseltine. From a purely financial point of view selling was a no-brainer.867 units in 1967 to 9. Let me explain. On the expenditure side there was administration. It applied each family’s self interest towards 109 . After all.
while they save the money to do so. Stanley hired “the sharpest barrister they could and briefed him as though he had been retained by an extreme left-wing council with infinite resources and with an absolute determination to break our proposed legislation. which would not sell and did not believe in the independence that comes with ownership. His job was to tell us if and how he could do it. It remains to be seen if similar opportunities can be created out of the remaining state controlled National Health Service and city hall run schools. We shall also ensure that 100 per cent mortgages are available for the purchase of council and New Town1 houses.” The bar- 1 A New Town is a government-planned settlement with a mix of council owned and privately owned properties. But they happened to live under the jurisdiction of a socialist council.” While in her 1980 speech to her Party Conference in Brighton she said. the homes in which they live. 110 . millions — of council tenants the right to buy their own homes.” In her memoirs she praises “the ever ingenious Peter Walker.” He added that “it was the deal of a lifetime” for those who exercised their Right to Buy. Many could afford to buy. We shall introduce a right for these tenants to obtain limited term options on their homes so that they know in advance the price at which they can buy. Twenty-one were built between 1946 and 1970. rising with length of tenancy to a maximum of 50 per cent after twenty years.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady electoral success.’ But for all the time that I have been in public affairs that has been beyond the reach of so many who were denied the right to the most basic ownership of all. It all amounted to “a quiet revolution. They wanted to buy.” She also commented: “It was Anthony Eden who chose for us the goal of ‘a property-owning democracy. “Michael Heseltine has given to millions — yes.” Heseltine described the whole process as “epoch making.” the “breakup” of the “monolithic local authority (housing) estates” and the creation of “a less polarized society. Their enthusiasm overcame her reservations and the 1979 manifesto read: “Our discounts will range from 33 per cent after three years.” In his memoirs Michael Heseltine recalls that getting the “Right to Buy” through Parliament was delegated to John Stanley MP.
” Heseltine said “We had been right to wait. For example in Lambeth. Michael Havers. The Labour Party.” Such was the interest in the “Right to Buy” that hundreds of tenants turned up at briefing meetings organized by the Conservative Opposition group on Lambeth Council to learn how to fill in the paperwork. The resentment Prime Minister Thatcher feared never emerged as homeowners saw that this was essentially a rent to mortgage 111 . When we finally went to court. When they were forced to implement the legislation they did so very grudgingly warning tenants of the “dangers of home ownership” versus “the safety of being a council tenant. we won hands down. south London. although we had to fight the matter through to the Court of Appeal. was wrong-footed by this policy.13. Tory canvassing teams. the author witnessed its Council Leader “Red” Ted Knight instructing officers not to sell. used to being unwelcome on council estates. And the policy was a stunning success. Selling Off Public Housing rister did find a way to defeat the legislation in the courts and promptly showed the Tories how to close it. found themselves acclaimed as the natural ally of every family and VOTE CONSERVATIVE posters began to appear in many front windows. The “Right to Buy” legislation included the right of the minister to intervene if a local council refused to sell and as predicted many Labour councils challenged the policy. nationally and in every local authority. Once converted Prime Minister Thatcher went for the “Right to Buy” with a vengeance. It appeared to be arguing that tenants lacked the competence to become owners or that in some elusive sense the sold house would cease to be part of the housing stock. The evidence against Norwich Local Authority gave them “an overwhelming chance of success.” There was an enormous pent up demand for home ownership in the public sector and people who had been paying rent for ten or twenty or more years were battering down the door to get these half price homes. advised Heseltine and Stanley not to use the powers of ministerial intervention until there was a case that could definitely be won. the Attorney General. appearing at milestone sales for photo opportunities regularly.
The author used to take visitors from overseas to see such estates and would point to a row of ten such homes. namely that many years. changing the balance of ownership. paint their own homes and replace government issue doors and windows with their own and so on. even decades. I’d ask my guests to pick the private six and they did so unfailingly. Families were surprised they had gained a capital asset. Going back to the chart at the start of this chapter and updating to 1997 we see: Private Rental 1914 1979 1997 90% 10% 12% Privately Owned 9% 53% 71% Public 1% 37% 17% 112 . Whole estates were transformed as suddenly people could fix their own problems. Say six had been privatized and four not. Ownership invested them with a dignity never experienced before. As tenants of a local authority their relationship had been too often servile — serf like. For the first time in generations people reliant on the state to control and regulate their homes had the freedom to make their own decisions. It is not possible to calibrate such a quality but it was easy to see the prices of these liberated homes rise in value. Legions of families for the first time were experiencing the freedom of home ownership. They could paint the walls without filling in a form and repair a leaking roof without the council having to do it for them. of paying rent deserved recognition. all thanks to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and the ‘Right to Buy’.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady scheme. Some three million housing units have moved from public to private hands since 1979. It was an utter transformation of the sector.
In practical terms they were fully independent. sound money and so on. On the other side there were a certain few far flung enclaves that were desperate to stay British — and indeed they were often more British than the British. Many of the leaders squandered their British inheritance of good laws. Ascension. Going to War “Just suppose Alaska was invaded . we cope. the British Empire had been transformed into a Commonwealth of Nations.14.” — Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to President Ronald Reagan “Come what may. Such a list would start with the Falkland Islands and would include Gibraltar. South Georgia. Pitcairn Islands. British Virgin Islands.. with HM Queen Elizabeth II as nominal head of state in such countries. dependent on aid which was used to politicize societies as it was spent on arms or deposited in secret Swiss Bank accounts. Cayman Islands. Tristan da Cunha. Starting with India after World War II. Saint Helena.. Decolonization in fact proved brutal and degrading for many. Anguilla. the South Sandwich Islands and the 113 .” Americans have struggled for two plus decades to understand the Falkland Islands War. To Brits it was very simple and straightforward. Bermuda. With a few exceptions they had mostly become dictatorships. Montserrat.
namely to remain loyal subjects of HM The Queen. He resigned from his Cabinet post as the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry in 1990 over an off-message interview in the Spectator magazine that criticized the plans for an all-EU currency. Nick Ridley MP. nor her junior minister at the Foreign Office responsible for the issue. They transformed Prime Minister Thatcher’s standing in her own nation and made her into a world figure. when the prospect was raised with them it was met with protests in the streets proclaiming “Keep The Falkland Islands British”) and neither did the Prime Minister. Hon Nicholas Ridley was MP for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (1959-1992). I think she too saw with greater clarity the fidelity of many of her colleagues — or rather the infidelity and weakness of too many. When Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister she inherited a proposal by the Foreign Office to lease-back the Falklands under which the UK would give the Islands to Argentina but immediately lease-back the running of the country. Hardly anybody seriously thought the Argentineans would invade and once they did the dominant view of officials in the Foreign Office and Defense Department was that they could not be 1 The Rt. 114 . It is doubtful any of her Cabinet would have fought the conflict at all. 1982 was a complete surprise to Britain. others were thriving communities. From the start the war was not so much about territory and citizens — important though they were — but rather. that the Islanders were entirely British. as she put it. Some were territorial anomalies.1 The Argentinean invasion on Friday.” Americans mostly do not realize that the British had been in the Falkland Islands since 1690. was enhanced. It might be only 300 miles off of the Argentinean coast but there had never been an Argentine population. Under Prime Minister Thatcher he was Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (1979–81). Her political stature. The islanders did not want it (indeed.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady Turks and Caicos Islands. that: “The aggressors should never succeed and that international law should prevail over the use of force. after victory in the South Atlantic. Her staunch resolve made her quite a hero to some. nor the House of Commons. April 2. The eleven weeks of the war became the most vivid period in her memory of the eleven years plus in Downing Street. The islanders were unanimous — they simply wanted the status quo.
went to a gala event in her honor hosted by Argentina’s Ambassador to the US on the evening of the day of the invasion. She was later asked how the US would have felt if the British Ambassador to the UN had. He was Secretary General of NATO from 1984 to 1988 and is currently the longest serving member of the House of Lords. and also at the US State Department. Prime Minister Thatcher was first alerted on Wednesday March 31 in the evening. Lady herself will learn of what metal she is made. First Sea Lord Sir Henry Leach. Jeane Kirkpatrick. There were doubts as to the efficacy of a military solution — in the Foreign Office. The great Parliamentarian Enoch Powell famously referred to her “soubriquet as the ‘Iron Lady’” and stated that “in the next week or two this House. Her Defense Secretary John Nott and Foreign Secretary Lord Carrington were severely bruised for not stopping the invasion in the first place. where some members favor diplomacy to the point of appeasement. For example. Prime Minister Thatcher came through very well and got the support she wanted.14. 1982) for the first time since the Suez crisis. the House of Commons. gone to dinner at the Iranian Embassy on the very evening that the US hostages were taken in Tehran. She told him to get cracking but not to sail before she had the Cabinet on side. Going to War recovered. Over the next eleven weeks Kirkpatrick continued to fail to demonstrate the sort of support London felt it had a right to expect. in the Ministry of Defense. She quickly convened a meeting of the relevant Foreign Office and Defense ministers and officials. But the British public. Caspar Weinberger and Ronald Reagan stood firm with her. That Saturday the House of Commons met in an emergency session with every word broadcast live to the nation. 115 . Calls for heads to roll became incessant and she accepted the resignations of Foreign Secretary Lord Carrington1 and two of his junior 1 Lord (Peter) Carrington served as Prime Minister Thatcher’s Foreign Secretary from 1979 to 1982 when he resigned over the Falklands War. Bluntly she asked the Chief of the Naval Staff.” Even the Labour Party was on her side because it viewed Argentinean leader General Galtieri to be a fascist dictator. US Ambassador to the UN. say. “What can you do?” He differed from many of his colleagues and told her a task force lead by two aircraft carriers could be ready in 48 hours. the Nation and the Right Hon. Parliament met on a Saturday (April 3.
As the Task Force sailed 8. Canada and New Zealand were very positive. Richard Luce1 and Humphrey Atkins. 3 Alexander Haig. seeing that its military could mount a force so quickly and that the political leaders were not dithering. While Al Haig3 flew back and forth on ineffective missions between Washington DC. New Zealand offered its ships and Chile gave signals intelligence.000 men on board over 100 vessels. The Task Force headed out on Monday. exploring options from trade blocks to banning arms sales and from bank boycotts to prohibiting all imports by the United States and the European Community. A “War Cabinet” was established consisting of a handful of men and Prime Minister Thatcher. 116 . It is also established to prevent an enemy from acquiring any material which could help them. That somebody was Humphrey Atkins MP. West Germany. Newspaper sales doubled. his tenure as Secretary of State was characterized by clashes with the more moderate Defense Secretary.000 miles. The Soviet Union and its allies were very vocal supporters of Argentina. The television and radio news bulletins were extended. the Prime Minister threw herself into diplomacy. It met daily. Japan and Italy were negative while France. April 5. By the time the last ship left there were over 25. often more than once a day.2 Carrington was quickly replaced with Francis Pym but John Nott was not allowed to go — stick to it through to victory. of course. Prime Minister Thatcher began to focus on war. A military hawk. as was Chile. to the astonishment of leftist intellectuals and the Russian Communist Party. Haig resigned abruptly in July 1982. President Reagan’s Secretary of State. The departure of the task force was watched by every Brit. An earlier Military Exclusion Zone4 was now replaced with a Total Exclusion Zone so that aircraft as well as ships were banned from the 1 Luce later became Vice Chancellor of the University of Buckingham and then Governor of Gibraltar.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady ministers. Different countries reacted differently: Ireland. she told him. who did so as Lord Privy Seal. 4 A military exclusion zone is an area in the immediate vicinity of a military action established by a country to prevent the unauthorized entry of civilian personnel/ equipment for their own safety or to protect natural assets already in place in the zone. 2 Because Lord Carrington sat in the Lords he needed somebody to speak on Foreign Affairs in the Commons. Caspar Weinberger. Buenos Aires and London. The nation surprised itself.
However far Al Haig and Francis Pym bent over. He said we Brits might win. from the UN and the US State Department to the Labour Party and the British Foreign Office.14. The 25 de Mayo hightailed it to port and was never seen or heard of again. However. 117 . they met with nothing but Argentinean intransigence. “Diplomacy” finally came to an end on April 29. It was the longest such raid ever made at the time and as such the bombers needed refueling in mid air on no less than five occasions. so knees began to tremble at all the usual places. Within hours the Belgrano was sunk with the loss of 321 lives and it has since become a talisman for the left who have used it to question the ethics guiding how Prime Minister Thatcher fought the war. As President Reagan wrote to Prime Minister Thatcher at the end of the month: “We will leave no doubt that Her Majesty’s Government worked with us in good faith and was left with no choice but to proceed with military action based on the right of self defense. It was clear that both the 25 de Mayo and the Belgrano group were serious threats. At sea Prime Minister Thatcher’s advisers told her that the two main threats were the Argentinian aircraft carrier 25 de Mayo and a cruiser Belgrano. with accompanying destroyers which were close to the Total Exclusion Zone and very well supplied with missiles — well over 300.” It was a scrappy war. where I made a $100 bet with a professor of economics. but the cost in lives would be thousands. The BBC and the Irish used the sinking of the Belgrano to cause mischief while the French and the West Germans wavered in their support. I was visiting New York University.886 miles away. In late April. as the British painlessly took the outlying islands of South Georgia and got daily nearer to the main target. Going to War 200-mile radius and it became a top priority to block Argentina’s use of the Port Stanley Airfield. and rules of engagement were issued to British submarines. An early action was the bombing of the runway at Port Stanley by a force of all but mothballed Vulcan Bombers that set off from Ascension Island 3. I said we would win and casualties would not exceed 250. Technically I lost the bet as British casualties totaled 255 — but I was more right than wrong.
On May 14 as British air supremacy began so the SAS folk took out all eleven of the Argentinean aircraft at an airstrip called Pebble Island. Its motto is “Who Dares Wins. The nature of their morale was entirely different.000 men had been landed. And so it went: May 23: HMS Antelope sunk. An Exocet missile supplied by the French took out HMS Sheffield with the loss of 20 men and a Harrier jet aircraft went down. Prime Minister Thatcher thanked 1 SAS stands for the British Army’s Special Air Service Regiment which is ranked by many as the very best Special Forces unit in the world. By now the SAS1 and the SBS2 had arrived on the scene — I believe they had long been there supplying intelligence but now they began to strike. But 5. and at sea.050. On May 21 the first British troops landed at Port San Carlos with no loss but as daylight came three British ships. and HMS Brilliant (heavily damaged) were hit and two British helicopters taken out with nine Argentinean fighters destroyed too. As such casualties were reported. father of the all-volunteer army in the US. 118 . the British military leaders feared she would waver and pull back. but she never flinched. It is apt to register that the Argentinian soldiers were all conscripts while the British troops were all volunteers. While the war continued on land.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady Not everything went smoothly. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and President Ronald Reagan met at the G7 Summit at Versailles. was smiling. The “Argies” crumbled. The result was: British dead 17 Argentinean dead 55 Argentinean surrendered 1. HMS Ardent (lost). Milton Friedman. HMS Argonaut. Jones posthumously receives the UK’s highest medal the Victoria Cross for leading his men across acres of exposed ground against well armed and dug in Argentineans. in the air.” 2 SBS stands for the British Navy’s Special Boat Service which specializes in water borne operations. in France. 17 Argentinean aircraft destroyed May 25: HMS Coventry sunk May 28: 2nd Parachute Regiment lead by Colonel H Jones takes Darwin at Goose Green.
Britain suffered its worst day of the war. Thirty-two British troops died as did scores of Argentineans. once victory had been achieved.800 strong force surrendered. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s stock rose to near that of Churchill. HMS Plymouth was hit and the landing crafts Sir Galahad and Sir Tristan were respectively sunk and badly hit. But the end was coming quickly. The psychological significance of the Falklands War was transforming. As the final assault on the hills surrounding Port Stanley began.” said the Prime Minister. which most politicians had lacked. Yet in 1982 it redrew the UK political landscape. it also saw the first of the mounts and ridges behind the capital taken in fierce night fire-fights. 119 . The Argentineans were soon seen en masse throwing down their arms and walking back into Port Stanley. It was felt that she had the tenacity to win. “We have ceased to be a nation in retreat. While June 12 saw HMS Glamorgan hit by an Exocet as it was bombarding the Argentinean positions in Port Stanley. How right she was. they knew she was very special indeed. On June 14 Commander Mario Menendez and his 9. Fifty men died and another fifty five were wounded. Before the Falklands War people suspected she was something special. Going to War President Reagan for the US help she requested in caring for the thousands of Argentinean troops that were surrendering.14. From our distance in time it can seem as a silly little duel over remote Magellanic Rocks. While her self confidence was boosted she did not become arrogant — more a Joan of Arc than a Boudicca.
Peter Walker became Energy Secretary and Ian MacGregor1. became Chairman of the National Coal Board. which is much more difficult but just as dangerous. In 1976 the then Labour government had brought him back to try to sort out a nationalized 121 .15. Beating the Miners “We had to fight the enemy without in the Falklands and now we have to fight the enemy within.” Arthur Scargill’s flying pickets. Then in the fall of 1983 two key moves were made.” “These few men are the wreckers in our midst. had twice defeated Ted Heath (see Chapter 6) and they held a special place in the political landscape. As early as September 1981 Energy Secretary Nigel Lawson — a brilliant man — quietly began building up what became massive coal stocks. They had an aura of invincibility. supported by most of organized Labour. They could bring down a government. 1 Ian MacGregor was born in Scotland but had immigrated to the USA. and indeed they had done so only a decade earlier. the Marxist leader of the NUM who was soon talking about not needing to wait until the next election to get rid of her. Prime Minister Thatcher’s massive 1983 victory (144 majority) outraged the Left. who spent most of his working life in the US. in particular Arthur Scargill. not at the pit heads but rather at the power stations. I think it possible that her defeat of General Galtieri emboldened her to take on the mineworkers with a robustness she may otherwise not have shown.
It was limited to regions where the hard left had the numbers. The miners were shooting themselves in the foot. particularly the levels of coal stocks at power plants and in other key areas.200 police in riot gear at Orgreave Coke Works — 69 people (41 police and 28 picketers) were injured. vehicle manufacturer. They formed the impression they were on the side of virtue and fairness. Could she have been clearer? The Prime Minister emboldened her wobbly Home Secretary Leon Brittan to back the police emphatically.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady During the winter of ’83/’84 tensions rose as MacGregor made plans to close uneconomical pits. 1983 over the closure plans for one particular colliery. But it was not a nationwide strike. No national ballot was held as Scargill was not sure he would win and support from other unions was close to non-existent. Some economically viable pits filled with water as the miners who maintained them were on strike. Prime Minister Thatcher followed every detail.000 pickets battle 4. In late May — nearly three months in — things began to turn ugly as the NUM began assembling very large numbers of pickets at one particular spot and at very short notice. Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock was to regret bitterly that he did not condemn the failure to ballot. The summer saw sporadic violence and much to-ing and fro-ing between all parties. Tuesday May 29 for example saw 5. make thousands of workers redundant and cut production.” proclaimed Prime Minister Thatcher. The strike began on March 12. Also Mr. This lead to more pit closures than had originally been planned due to the health and safety concerns in these mines and the prohibitive cost of getting them back to a workable standard. Crucially the police who were involved very cleverly used a common law right to disperse flying pickets before they even reached their destination claiming that they were clearly intending to break the public peace. Edward Heath had never achieved this in 1974 when the posture of the Government and the NCB was to appease. Scargill’s timing was inept. “The rule of law must prevail over the rule of the mob. March was just when demand for heating became less. 122 .
And by February 27 — after 50 weeks — the numbers at work exceeded those not at work and on March 3 — just nine days short of a year — the NUM voted for a return to work. November 19 on would get a very generous Christmas bonus. had found in Prime Minister Thatcher an unbending will to stop what she called “the fascist left” dead in their tracks. Those who chose not to participate in the illegal strike found themselves and their wives and children subject to abuse. As for Scargill he remained as leader of the NUM until 2000. the NCB mailed all miners. the union that had brought down the previous Conservative government. In another case a miner using a taxi to get to work saw his driver killed when a three-foot concrete post hurled from a motorway bridge impaled him. Thousands took up the offer and week by week more returned to work. Scargill faced huge embarrassment when the press revealed that President Gaddafi and Soviet President Gorbachev were sending large sums of money to the NUM. In late November one working miner was beaten in his own home — nineteen of his former colleagues were arrested. But violence continued. As fall went on. Two miners got life sentences for that. The courts began to have an effect too with two Yorkshire miners bringing a civil case against Scargill and the NUM.000 miners were at work with more returning daily — the now ten-month illegal action was crumbling. The most violent. In 1996 he left the Labour Party after it aban- 123 . Typically she held a party at 10 Downing Street for the leaders of the miners who refused to strike. She destroyed the myth that you needed the unions on your side to win power and in doing so she encouraged moderate trade unionists everywhere to reclaim their unions. attacks and arson. By early January 75. left-wing and militant of all Britain’s unions. saying that everyone at work from Monday. Surely treason was in the air. resulting in several hundred thousand dollar fines for the latter.15. Beating the Miners A major element became the war between the striking miners and the working miners.
when Scargill on a TV panel with Hague called for re-nationalization in 2004: “What was striking was the reaction of the audience: while a preMargaret Thatcher audience would have trembled before him. it also embraced Margaret Thatcher’s economic reforms including privatization and the reforms that had finally brought the unions under the rule of law. which despite having only 2. From being a menace and a threat who intimidated the nation Arthur Scargill was reduced to being an object of derision. disease. Scargill founded the Socialist Labour Party.07% of the popular vote despite standing in only one constituency with one policy. illiteracy.” 1 This was the clause in its constitution which committed it to public ownership (i. To put that in context a local party called the Independent Kidderminster Hospital and Health Concern got 0. along with the major insurance companies and other industries.” In 1996.” With these types of policies it is no surprise they do so badly in elections as they are clearly completely out of touch with public opinion and some would say reality..” And at the same time a policy of nationalizing “Britain’s banks. which recorded over £20 billion profits in 2000. after abandoning the Labour Party. the major oil companies. 124 . a post-Margaret Thatcher audience simply laughs — treating his comments as a trip down memory lane.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady doned Clause IV1 in its quest to become electable. Scargill saw New Labour as “a willing handmaiden to multinational corporations and bodies like the International Monetary Fund which preside over global poverty. Prime Minister Thatcher had illustrated once again her Iron Lady credentials. getting only 0. to save the local hospital. The fall of Scargill from a serious threat to UK industry to a footnote in British politics was documented recently by the Conservative MP and former leader.958 individual members has still managed to have several internal wars between the membership resulting in some factions being expelled by Scargill. war and pollution. William Hague.e. Socialist Labour Party policies include an aim to “abolish Capitalism” and “to taking all the industries and services privatized in the past 26 years back into public ownership.07% of the popular vote. government ownership) of most of the business sector. Their impact on the 2005 election was negligible. an entertaining show put on by an affable and now harmless museum piece.
” She insisted that “violence must not be seen to pay. she saw things with great clarity. It was nearer to being an insurrection. It was crushed and even former close allies of Ted Heath such as Jim Prior had to give the Prime Minister fulsome credit when comparing her leadership to that of a decade earlier. Beating the Miners The miners’ strike was not a minor industrial dispute.15. 125 . She denounced the violent picketing as “intimidation” and proclaimed it to be “unlawful assembly.” The UK economy is in a far better state thanks to Prime Minister Thatcher’s victory over the NUM. Without Prime Minister Thatcher. Throughout. It was yet more evidence of a new brand of leadership. the UK could still be in the grip of unions holding government and industry to ransom whenever they chose.
Second. The whole culture was one of getting ahead by brute force rather than better serving your customer. They were immune from the restraints of law. limiting it just to the place of work directly involved. British trade unions were exempted from the Law of Tort. Prime Minister Thatcher. Labour had strengthened the rights of unions to impose closed shops — to make union membership obligatory. She proposed 127 . You have to be at least in your mid forties to recall the British three day week. the endless strikes.16. to underpin strikes and to coerce workers into joining unions and participation in industrial action against their better judgment.” It is now a generation since the National Union of Mineworkers brought down a government. First she wanted to tackle the practice of picketing. Reforming the Unions “Laws giving protective immunity to the trade unions at the turn of the century were now abused to protect restrictive practices and over manning. strengthened by the winter of discontent. bosses and the PM over beer and sandwiches at Number 10. In other words secondary picketing at say an upstream supplier would become illegal. the coercion of decent people and the endless meetings of union leaders. wanted to make three immediate changes. the ignorance and arrogance of the far left Union leaders.
He was the sort of man F. Norman Tebbit. And she used simple examples to show how the kind of economic thinking represented by the TUC would keep Britain on the road to ruin. He introduced regular ballots in closed shops to test ongoing support. restricted what could be classed as a lawful dispute.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady to weaken those arrangements and to give more power and rights to individual workers. She explained that strikes affected union members just as much as the rest of us. Her strategy was to break down the closed shop and bring real democracy to these institutions so that ordinary members could regain control. She was also helped in this as the British economy moved out of iron.A. she proposed wider use of secret and postal ballots for all major union decisions to halt the pressure brought to bear when all that is needed is a show of hands. more robust. coal and steel and towards services. how they cost jobs and lost orders that could never be replaced. and removed the unlimited immunity from actions for damages 128 . increased the compensation for people damaged in a closed shop. Break those monopolies and you have gone a long way to bringing unions under control. whose instinct was always to yield to union demands. Hayek was thinking of when he dedicated The Road to Serfdom “To the Socialists of all Parties. Time and time again Prime Minister Thatcher banged on about the damage unions were doing to the living standards of ordinary people. Prime Minister Thatcher went over their heads to the British public and the ordinary members of the unions. She also grasped and understood the link between the giant monopoly nationalized industries and union power. strengthened employers rights to sack strikers. That trend plus privatization meant that union membership was inexorably evaporating. All such proposals were greeted with outright hostility by the Labour Party and the TUC.” In the September of 1981 reshuffle she moved him to become Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and appointed as Secretary of State for Employment the much sounder. Her attempts to act quickly were badly hampered by a leftover Heath acolyte named James Prior. They had a natural rapport. Third. made union labor only contracts illegal. Norman worked well with his Prime Minister.
The British trade unions were more than “combinations in restraint of trade.16. All of British commerce prospered under these newly equitable laws. As noted before union membership dropped from 51% in 1979 to 18% in 1997 while ownership of shares by trade unionists (often in the business for which they worked) rocketed up from 6% in 1979 to 29% in 1997. They were its major source of income and through the bloc votes mechanism at Labour Party conferences could make policy. For example.000 — swamping the votes of the constituency parties with a mere 617. at the 1987 Conference in Blackpool the unions exercised a vote of 5. What a transformation. could be vulnerable if sued. thus opening up the possibility that their funds. North West England. He stood up to very violent picketing and even death threats. who was the first entrepreneur to make use of Thatcherite reforms as he founded a high tech newspaper called Today.” They were also the pay-masters of the Labour Party. He moved production from Fleet Street to Wapping and in doing so broke the power of the print workers.792. In bringing trade unions back within the Rule of Law she also altered much of the texture of her opponent’s Party. The overall result was the total transformation of the UK labor market. their war chest. He used every one of her reforms and after a year of nightly battles between police and pickets Rupert prevailed. Further Acts in 1984 and 1988 and 1990 continued to strengthen the rights of the individual workers and to whittle away at trade union powers in particular the closed shop. However trouble rapidly moved south to London and that great entrepreneur Rupert Murdoch. Reforming the Unions that so favored the unions. The flexibility of UK employment contracts has been a defining 129 . It all started with a nice man called Eddie Shah in Warrington.000 votes. Blair would not have been possible but for her transformation of this lawless rogue element in British public life. It is reasonable to argue the rise of Mr. As well as the epic battle with the miners described in the previous chapter there was also the issue of the print workers and the introduction of new technology — Prime Minister Thatcher was not so involved as the print workers were in the private sector whereas the miners were in a nationalized industry.
130 .Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady feature of the sudden surge in British industrial vitality. This remains in contrast to the constricted nature of French or German employment policies.
her right hand man. windows in pubs are long free of anti glass shrapnel tape. Very few in Northern Ireland.” Today there are some trash cans back on the streets of London.” A further 10. In Northern Ireland (or Ulster) alone over 3.17.” The IRA terrorists ran their bombing campaign from 1969 to July 2005.524 people were killed or rather murdered during the “Troubles. Protestant or Catholic. finally decommissioning all of their weapons in September 2005.” “They [the IRA] should be wiped off the civilised world. Some lost limbs while others had lesser wounds. Battling the I. and a bag left 131 . It is not possible to count the psychological injury to the relatives and families more widely.R. remained untouched by the bloodshed during Prime Minister Thatcher’s time in office. 1979 on the ramp leading out of the underground parking lot at the Palace of Westminster.A. Indeed one of her first duties as Prime Minister was to give the memorial service address for him.000 were injured. As we read in Chapter 10 Airey Neave. “All attempts to destroy democracy by terrorism will fail. a trusted confidante and Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland had been killed by an IRA bomb on March 30. After his death she said “I felt like a puppet whose strings had been cut.
Americans included. the second bomb was exploded. are unaware that the island of Ireland has two divergent peoples. which is what most of the Protestant majority want. If anything the Ulster Protestants are Scots not English. This is false. Second. It is easy to forget. she wrote a personal note to all the families involved. she flew less than 48 hours later unannounced and wearing a flak jacket to the hotbed of “bandit country” in South Armagh. In central London at least that was not the case for large parts of the ’70s. A major reason we can live more easily — and even see former members of the IRA’s ruling army council such as Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness tucking into their eggs and bacon at the Tevere café1 on the corner of Great Peter Street and Marsham Street in the heart of Westminster — is because of Prime Minister Thatcher’s tenacity and courage in facing down the IRA. First. also visiting the hospital where the 1 Recently converted into a branch of Pret A Manger. Ulster. or Northern Ireland. Thatcher had barely gotten the Prime Ministerial seat warm when on August Bank Holiday Monday (August 27) the IRA murdered Lord Mountbatten (the Queen’s cousin) and three others: the Dowager Baroness Brabourne. The very same day eighteen soldiers were killed at Warren Point in a two bomb pincer movement. The first bomb was set off by remote control and then. Prime Minister Thatcher’s reaction was threefold. Nicholas Knatchbull and crew member Paul Maxwell. Mrs. the Hon. seeing the people of Northern Ireland’s right to self determination as paramount and that any change to the status of Northern Ireland would be achieved by political means. is often caricatured as an English colony. ’80s and even early ’90s. What was the issue? The IRA is the Catholic paramilitary terrorist group that through violent means wanted Northern Ireland to become part of the Republic of Ireland as supposed to remaining part of the UK. 132 . when more troops moved in to tend to the wounded. Prime Minister Thatcher refused to compromise to the demands of terrorists. Four others were injured as a bomb blew apart Mountbatten’s boat off the Irish coast.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady in a public corner is not immediately a cause to clear everyone out. not violence. Even many friends of Britain.
As an early striker lost consciousness the protest was called off only to restart soon and this time led by Bobby Sands who had been 133 . But all along Prime Minister Thatcher and a succession of Northern Ireland Secretaries Humphrey Atkins. And third. dropping in on local politicians and having lunch with the Army’s 3 Brigade. I wonder if that crossed Prime Minister Thatcher’s mind in 1986 when she gave President Reagan permission to bomb Libya from UK bases! The IRA clearly didn’t like this and by 1981 had decided to try to kill her. but he stonewalled her and gave no cooperation at all to hunt down these murderers. She finally visited the Royal Ulster Constabulary.” Surely that should be a “food strike”! The issue in question was very simple.R. Battling the I. James Prior. Her sympathy was to be sorely tested when convicted IRA terrorists went on a “dirty protest” the details of which I leave to your imagination and followed it up with a “hunger strike. And while she felt a great deal more at home with the Unionists she had sympathy for the Catholic minority which had clearly suffered great prejudice for a long time and in all kinds of ways. efforts that began to have an effect. Douglas Hurd. some of the officers she met that day would not see out the end of her premiership. Colonel Gaddafi of Libya was another major source of help to the IRA. She was in charge of the prisons not the terrorists. To that end President Reagan was totally on her side and he made repeated efforts to help. she gave impetus to talks back in Whitehall on how to improve intelligence and pledged to tackle Irish Prime Minister Jack Lynch on cross border issues. She did in fact confront Lynch within days. Prime Minister Thatcher would have none of it.17. Tom King and Peter Brooke struggled with the dilemma of a mainly Protestant majority wishing to remain part of the UK and a mainly Catholic minority wishing to be part of Eire. Terrorists wanted to be treated as political prisoners rather than as every day criminals. However a pattern was clearly emerging: she would support the people of Ulster with frequent visits and she would use every opportunity to dry up the IRA’s sources of funding that came from misguided Irish-Americans.A injured were being treated.
He was all but an MP — as a prisoner of course he could not attend Parliament and be sworn in. However it was against the law to take up political office as a convict so if Sands had survived he would not have been able to sit as an MP. Muriel Maclean (wife of Scottish Conservative Chairman Sir Donald Maclean) and Jeanne Shattock (wife of the president of the South-West Conservative Association) and many more were injured. working on her big speech with her staff when a huge bomb on a long delay timer went off inside the hotel.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady elected to Parliament as MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone at a byelection caused by the death of Frank Maguire. not that he would have taken the Loyalty Oath to HM The Queen anyway. 1981 and died on May 5. It may seem bizarre that a convicted criminal could stand for election. It was very close. 1981. Wakeham). now Lord. After the bomb Prime Minister Thatcher and all her party were promptly evacuated to the local Police Station and later to a nearby Police College. The greatest test of her courage and conviction when dealing with the IRA came in October 1984 when she was staying in the Grand Hotel in Brighton for her Party’s annual conference. He started his “hunger strike” on March 1. requires two full time nurses to care for her and can hardly even hold a cup of tea.m. From that day on Prime Minister Thatcher became the IRA’s number one target. To do otherwise was to cave in to the enemy. It took two hours to free him and despite his injuries he made enough of a recovery to lead a normal life.m. Today it is reported that she is confined to a wheelchair. Eric Taylor (chairman of the North-West Area Conservative Association). Anthony Berry (MP for Enfield South). The explosion missed her but destroyed her bathroom. While she was unhurt. but until 1981 there was no law preventing a criminal in prison from standing in an election. The most striking image of the night was the sight of Norman Tebbit being dug out of the ruins of the Grand Hotel alive. She was up at 2:54 a. By 6:30 a. she knew the full extent of the damage and deaths but determined to press on with the day’s business including her speech. The speech was hastily 134 . Roberta Wakeham (wife of the then Government chief whip John. his wife (Margaret Tebbit) was not so fortunate. five people died. No running back to Downing Street for her.
Twenty one were killed and 182 injured in just one evening in Birmingham. based on the story of Jezebel in Kings I of the Old Testament. 1985 Prime Minister Thatcher and her opposite number in Ireland. And it was not limited to London. many of whom had exited in night clothes. could be smartly turned out. 135 . Battling the I. On November 15. Throughout her whole eleven years Prime Minister Thatcher was absolutely forthright in her commitment to the Union and to the wishes of the majority of its residents. The speech was a huge success as she declared “all attempts to destroy democracy by terrorism will fail. signed the Anglo-Irish Agreement which essentially created a joint office to run regular conferences between both governments on the relevant legal/security/political issues without any surrender of sovereignty. even as misguided politicians south of the border refused to help on the most basic of issues and even as the Labour Party refused to support the Prevention of Terrorism Act. two killed and 39 injured at Ebury Bridge Road.000 to $800. The confidence of the people and the will of the government were never in doubt even as misguided Americans sent from $160. three killed at the Royal Artillery Barracks. seven killed and 31 injured in Regent’s Park. and so on. 11 killed and 21 injured at the Royal Marines School of Music. four killed and 28 injured in Hyde Park.” Throughout the 1980s (and earlier in the 1970s) London and close cities in particular took the brunt of the IRA terrorist campaign: Five were injured at the Princess Louise Regiment Territorial Army Centre. 2 Jezebel is a term used to describe a woman who is considered wicked. Garret Fitzgerald. There have been claims that money raised by Noraid is used to fund the IRA.R.000 per annum via Noraid1 to fund terror.A rewritten to exclude inappropriate Labour Party bashing and a branch of the local department store (Marks and Spencer) opened early so that her Party bigwigs. Hard core Unionists were outraged and labeled Prime Minister Thatcher a Jezebel2 despite the fact that the agreement assured every- 1 Noraid is an American charity founded at the start of “the troubles” in 1969. six killed and 91 injured outside Harrods. Terrorism became self defeating because each such act only strengthened her determination. one killed at an Oxford Street burger bar.17.
Ian Gow and Airey Neave always stir in her memories when Northern Ireland is the topic of conversation. Republicans hated it. philosophically. Despite that. Her close friend and former PPS Ian Gow (later to be murdered by the IRA) resigned over it. it was a remarkable achievement for Prime Minister Thatcher. 136 . For someone so deeply attached personally. she often admits that the murders of her three Tory colleagues Anthony Berry. 1998 and the St Andrews Agreement of October 13.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady one that Northern Ireland would remain part of the UK as long as the majority of its people so wished. 2006 which lead to power sharing in a devolved Assembly at Stormont today. politically and religiously to the Unionist cause. Unionists hated it. However it can be seen as a stepping stone en route to the Good Friday Agreement of April 10. The IRA hated it.
18. Befriending America
“Europe was created by history, America was created by philosophy.” “I could always count on her wise counsel, her firm support and her loyal friendship.” — Ronald Reagan
Prime Minister Thatcher’s view of the United States was shaped positively from her love of certain American movies through the writing of Walt Whitman to Churchill’s speech at Fulton, Missouri in 1946 to her 1967 coast-to-coast six week tour and the four week lecture tour in 1969 for the ESU. She had met many US servicemen back home in Lincolnshire and during the term she volunteered in Oxford two nights every week to serve meals to USAF personnel from the nearby Upper Heyford base in an air force canteen. Her admiration for America (juxtaposed with her hatred of communism) was exposed time and again as Prime Minister — and she served from roughly halfway through President Carter’s administration, right through President Reagan’s two terms and up to half way through President George H. W. Bush’s only term. She was not by accident the first European (indeed first major head of government) to visit President Reagan. Before going on that trip in early 1981 she said: 137
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“My own political convictions are founded in a love of freedom, that rejection of tyranny and repression, which inspired the Pilgrim Fathers and those who followed them to America.”
Of course she hailed from Lincolnshire on the east coast of the UK and it was from that county along with Norfolk and Suffolk that so many migrated to New England in the 17th century while those from the UK’s West Country headed to the Chesapeake, those from the Midlands and Wales to the Delaware Valley and later the Scots and Scots Irish who made for the Appalachian Frontier.1 Boston is of course named after Boston, Lincolnshire. She had first gotten a very positive impression of Ronald Reagan from Denis who had heard the future president address the UK’s Institute of Directors2 in 1969. Reagan then twice visited her as Opposition Leader in the late ’70s and they hit it off famously from day one with their shared passion for low taxes and strong defense and their shared hatred for communism. Both those meetings ran over time considerably. As Opposition leader she twice visited the United States and on both occasions she met with the then President, possibly an unprecedented degree of access. On her first visit in September 1975 she was heavily criticized back in the UK for disparaging remarks about the British economy but she fought back saying she was “not knocking Britain; I’m knocking socialism.” She met many senior members of the US government and was very impressed by Treasury Secretary William (Bill) Simon who had just torn up Richard Nixon’s price and wage controls. She found President Gerald Ford to be a “large and friendly man” and thought him to be a “reassuring and steady figure who helped America heal the self-inflicted wounds of Watergate.” On her second visit she met for 45 minutes with President Jimmy Carter and she lectured him sternly on developing a more robust foreign policy; Carter later complained that he had struggled to get a word in edgeways. As Prime Minister she was back six weeks after the seizure of fifty US diplomats in Tehran. She was a huge hit in lecturing America: “At
1 See Albion’s Seed by David Hackett Fischer. 2 The Institute of Directors is dedicated to professional standards and aims to represent the view of business by promoting a healthy business environment. It has no party political affiliation.
18. Befriending America
times like these you are entitled to look to your friends for support. We are your friends, we do support you. Let there be no doubt about that.” With President Reagan in the White House for eight years — and Prime Minister Thatcher in 10 Downing Street throughout — an extraordinarily close friendship developed. An adviser, Ronnie Millar, once said of her: “She loved America ... and America loved her back.” From the moment she set foot on American soil he claimed there was a new spring in her step and she lost ten years. She is not alone in such a physical reaction to the land of the free and the home of the brave. Through repeated visits to each other’s countries and meetings such as those of the G7 they became a formidable double act. He was her kind of man and she was his kind of woman. Only one event threatened to disrupt their ever closer relationship. In October 1983 US forces invaded Grenada to rescue 1,000 US citizens after a leftist government had been toppled by an even more pro-Cuba pro-Nicaragua gang of thugs. The problem for Prime Minister Thatcher was that Grenada was (and still is) a member of the British Commonwealth and HM Queen Elizabeth II was (and still is) its head of state. Ron (as she called him) forgot to inform Prime Minister Thatcher of his plans let alone consult or ask her permission! Indeed his staff told her staff lies about the American fleet’s intentions; later it was said this was for security reasons as they feared for leaks. When Ron finally called Prime Minister Thatcher — as an afterthought almost — she was incandescent with rage. Close staff reported they never saw her so angry! Whether there was a genuine fear of leaks or whether they just assumed she was on their side or whether they just did not realize that HM Queen Elizabeth II was head of state is not at all clear. America struggled to understand Prime Minister Thatcher’s fury. After all hadn’t the US supported her over the Falklands? To her, though, it was simple: Grenada was part of the British Commonwealth; Britain is the United States’ greatest ally; and she was personally close to the President. On all three counts she should have been consulted and would probably, almost certainly, have supported American efforts with nearby Royal Navy assets. 139
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The next great test of the Thatcher/Reagan double act came in 1986 after a series of Libyan terrorist attacks on US servicemen and civilians, President Reagan decided to bomb Tripoli and wanted to do so using USAF F-111s stationed in the UK. Prime Minister Thatcher agreed somewhat reluctantly but the more her own officials in the Foreign Office (“the traitors” as she called them) railed against the Reagan idea the more she hardened her support. Her own Cabinet was not too happy either. While many were pro-American several fumed about the lack of full consultation. However her Lord Chancellor Lord Hailsham (formerly Quentin Hogg for whom Margaret Roberts had campaigned in Oxford in 1945) stood by her firmly. Interestingly (like Churchill and Macmillan) he too had an American mother Elizabeth Marjoribanks, the daughter of a Judge from Nashville, Tennessee. But this was a storm in a teacup and barely worth a mention when compared to the tearing down of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of Communism.
19. Kicking Down the Wall
“I stand before you tonight in my, yes, red chiffon evening gown, my face softly made up, my hair gently waved. The Iron Lady of the Western World! Me? A cold war warrior? Well, yes — if that is how they wish to interpret my defence of values and freedoms fundamental to our way of life.” “My job is to stop Britain going red.” “At one end of the spectrum are the terrorist gangs within our borders, and the terrorist states which finance and arm them. At the other are the hard left operating inside our system, conspiring to use union power and the apparatus of local government to break, defy and subvert the law.” “We believe in the democratic way of life. If we serve the idea faithfully, with tenacity of purpose, we have nothing to fear from Russian Communism.” (1950)
Prime Minister Thatcher never passed through a left-leaning phase as a young person. As we read in Chapter 2, before the age of 20 she was a warm up speaker for the Conservatives in the 1945 General Election. And what she saw of communism during a 1969 trip to the Soviet Union did nothing to impress her, rather the reverse, whereas two trips to the prosperous and free-wheeling US left her enthralled. Indeed, like President Reagan she was never seduced by communism and as early as 1950 (see quote above) she told her audience that “if we stick to our democratic principles then we have nothing to fear.” 141
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This was a time when her fellow citizens were being trained to squat under their desks if and when the Russian bombs fell. And she was deeply influenced by the likes of dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn and academic Bob Conquest. On gaining power in 1979, Prime Minister Thatcher inherited a defense posture that had been gravely weakened by five successive cuts in spending. It reduced new modern equipment and kept the forces’ pay levels beneath those of the civilian population. The British military services were demoralized. There was also the very evident contrast with the British presence in Western Germany, meant to deter the Red Army, living in straitened circumstances amongst the affluent Germans. The “Iron Lady” sobriquet had come on January 31, 1976, when she spoke at Kensington Town Hall. To the Leader of the Opposition the overarching role of any government is to protect its people. She questioned whether the current government was doing that as it seemed to be cutting back on defense just as threats were rising to new heights. She reported that military sources had told her that the “balance” was shifting in favor of Russia and her allies. She accused the Labour Party of just not listening; they were blind to the fact that Russian weapons could be pointed at the UK! She wondered if “some people in the Labour Party think we are on the same side as the Russians?” According to her, the Soviets were not in the business of self-defense. Their leaders were out to build “the foremost naval and military power in the world.” She spoke as someone who faced what seemed to be an implacable and rapidly-arming enemy. She relentlessly offered the opinion that a huge land mass like Russia really did not need to build the world’s biggest navy. She turned her fire on the old men in the politburo: “They put guns before butter, while we put just about everything before guns.” Of course, she did have the guns of Washington to back her up. She then elaborated her view that Russia’s “utterly lame” economic performance and its “brutalization” of its subject peoples had seemed to nourish military priorities for the Soviet leadership. 142
19. Kicking Down the Wall
She cited figures demonstrating that the USSR was outspending the US and by how much, and she warned that there were some indications the USSR had overtaken the US in military might. To her, “the United States is still the prime champion of freedom” and it was to the US and NATO she now looked. In particular she sympathized with a post-Vietnam America (also in an election year) and called on NATO allies to do more. A Conservative government led by a Prime Minister called Thatcher would play a “special role,” she promised. There came a time when her view of the Red Army appeared to be inflated, but even in the early ’80s it was good politics to be emphatic about the Soviet Union. She continued to compare the UK’s levels of defense spending with other NATO countries in very critical terms. Many felt that the UK’s lack of financial power was caused by socialism. As she wound down, she said:
“But let us be clear about one thing. “This is not a moment when anyone with the interests of this country at heart should be talking about cutting our defenses. “It is a time when we urgently need to strengthen our defenses. “Of course this places a burden on us. But it is one that we must be willing to bear if we want our freedom to survive.”
She went on:
“Throughout our history, we have carried the torch for freedom. Now, as I travel the world, I find people asking again and again, ‘What has happened to Britain?’ They want to know why we are hiding our heads in the sand, why with all our experience, we are not giving a lead.”
Her core message remained that she believed in a foreign policy based on a close understanding with the United States. She argued it was an affinity between the Anglo-Saxon nations as well as the formal alliance of NATO. The moment had come for her party to sound a warning — the UK/ US were at a historical crossroads. She ended pleading:
“Let’s ensure that our children will have cause to rejoice that we did not forsake their freedom.”
Gorbachev. it was never a question of “if” the Soviet Union would collapse but rather “when. It is apt to be reminded the British armed forces were engaged throughout her leadership in a low level civil war in Northern Ireland. Stalin and Roosevelt. After long discussions at her official country weekend home.” To Mrs. she met future Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev at the funeral of Yuri Andropov and quickly invited him to London. felt that their chief rival was still strong enough to be a problem.” With the death of Chernenko in 1985 and Gorbachev’s rise to the leadership she found herself in a very special situation. We can do business together. “I am cautiously optimistic.” Guided by her Cabinet colleague Peter Walker. Many economists associated with the IEA had long voiced serious worries about waste and environmental degradation.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady The Iron Lady tag was meant to be offensive and to denigrate her. Both employed rhetoric to build support for stronger measures. Chequers. enjoying a deep friendship with the US President 3. The “Troubles” in Northern Ireland meant British soldiers were trained in danger and combat and. Arthur Seldon CBE wrote in the Times on the August 6.500 miles to the east. would return to German postings for rest and recreation. Margaret Thatcher MP. Prime Minister Thatcher and President Ronald Reagan. 1980: “China will go capitalist. however. It was primarily the Army that was deployed. she famously declared to John Cole of the BBC. Indeed the Institute’s editorial director Dr.000 miles to the west and a growing acquaintance with the President of the USSR 1. some said. Brilliantly she embraced it and being a woman as well the two created huge overseas interest when the leader of the Opposition would normally get a thin press. I like Mr. containment policies notwithstanding. as when Reagan visited the UK in 1982 and proclaimed to its politicians: 144 . Soviet Russia will not survive the century. Labour as we know it will never rule again. Margaret Thatcher was not alone in describing the USSR as an economic failure and in believing it had to collapse one day. Shades of Churchill. a little curiously.
” He asserted that the Soviet Union was running against “the tide of history. Private plots amounted to only 3% of arable land yet produced nearly 25% of agricultural output. Wherever the comparisons have been made between free and closed societies — West Germany and East Germany.” It would not be easy and he sensed we were all at “a turning point. our military forces face east to prevent a possible invasion.” He concluded his tour de force: 145 . 1956 in Hungary.19. ridiculing the USSR’s failures in the past two decades: for example 20% of its citizens worked on the land yet they could not feed the country.” He went on with greater emphasis: “In the Communist world as well.” It was due for major economic dislocations and urgently needed to expand civil liberties. man’s instinctive desire for freedom and self-determination surfaces again and again. 1968 in Czechoslovakia. there are grim reminders of how brutally the police state attempts to snuff out this quest for self-rule — 1953 in East Germany. Kicking Down the Wall “Sir Winston Churchill refused to accept the inevitability of war or even that it was imminent. President Reagan warmed to his theme. To President Ronald Reagan. Malaysia and Vietnam — it is the democratic countries that are prosperous and responsive to the needs of their people. And one of the simple but overwhelming facts of our time is this: Of all the millions of refugees we’ve seen in the modern world. On the other side of the line. But the struggle continues in Poland. He said.’” Other American presidents had talked about the ideas of freedom but Ronald Reagan’s own use of these attractive notions was much more assertive. To be sure. the mission was “to preserve freedom as well as peace. What they desire is the fruits of war and the indefinite expansion of their power and doctrines. Austria and Czechoslovakia. Ronald Reagan then added: “The decay of the Soviet experiment should come as no surprise to us. 1981 in Poland. ‘I do not believe that Soviet Russia desires war. Today on the NATO line. the Soviet forces also face east to prevent their people from leaving. not toward the Communist world. their flight is always away from. But what we have to consider here today while time remains is the permanent prevention of war and the establishment of conditions of freedom and democracy as rapidly as possible in all countries.
we too have come through the worst.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady “Well. “Reagan’s truth telling — together with the examples of Mrs.” As the economist and pro-American Czech President Dr. Let us now begin a major effort to secure the best — a crusade for freedom that will engage the faith and fortitude of the next generation. The Soviet economy was stalling under the pressures of the arms race. The President escalated the cost of the arms race. Prime Minister Thatcher was President Ronald Reagan’s most ardent cheerleader and kept up the pressure on Gorbachev. Rarely can two national leaders such as Reagan and Thatcher have shared so closely their instincts and found their interests so much in line. He increased the technology stakes through SDI or the so-called Star Wars program. as Reagan did with his famous Berlin speech line: “Tear down this wall. Thatcher’s economic success and Pope John Paul’s moral strength — gave millions of people courage to rise up when the opportunity came. let us move toward a world in which all people are at last free to determine their own destiny. Vaclav Klaus puts it. The advanced technical ingenuity claimed by the US space industries added a further strain to the Russian military systems. betting the US could afford to spend more than the Soviet Union. But together. For the sake of peace and justice. the task I’ve set forth will long outlive our own generation.” This line of thinking had the power to sway even some in the Soviet Union. as well as garnering tremendous public support at home. The Prime Minister freely shared all she had on Gorbachev and his problems with the President.” 146 . And neither of them missed a chance to take center stage.
This meant that the EU had a population more than 50 per cent larger than that of the United States. Slovakia. Many vaguely think of it as a bit like the US — a number of nations coming together to form the United States of Europe or the USE. only to see them re-imposed at a European level with a European super-state exercising a new dominance from Brussels. 1 Based on a speech given by the author at The Heritage Foundation. on September 28. Dealing with Brussels “We have not successfully rolled back the frontiers of the state in Britain. And when Romania and Bulgaria joined on January 1. Latvia. 2004 ten new countries2 with a combined population of 74 million became members of the European Union. Washington DC. bringing the total EU population to 454 million. 147 . let’s take time to understand just what the latter. in the view of the author. the Czech Republic. Estonia.” “Laissez-faire! Laissez-faire! Don’t go French on me!” From an American point of view the European Union (EU) can be difficult to understand. 2007.1 On May 1. another 30 million took that to 484 million. Slovenia and Malta. Before turning to Prime Minister Thatcher and the EU.20. 2006. Lithuania. Hungary. 2 The new members are Cyprus. really is. Poland.
148 . spending on the CAP increased by 11.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady It is envisaged that further nations will join. rivals. Iran. Why? At one level it is taken for granted that the emerging European Union would share America’s core values. Recent differences between the EU and the US include those over Iraq. The United States has also tolerated the European Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). market-based Atlantic ally — an ally with whom a heavy burden of economic and security responsibilities might be shared? Or do they also see the EU as a rival? The reality is that since this hugely ambitious project has taken shape. The EU now stretches from the Latvia–Russia border in the east to Galway Bay on the west coast of Ireland. Turkey too is enthusiastic to accede to the EU. it is doubtful whether the project of European political integration could have gotten off the ground or developed in the way that it has. Palestine. policy differences between the EU and the United States have both multiplied and deepened. while it is possible to name 1 Despite worldwide criticism of the Common Agricultural Policy. Do American policymakers believe that the process of European political integration leads to the creation of a democratic. genetically modified crops.1 which some have called the most inefficient system of agricultural support ever devised. But from the very beginning the US gave its unconditional backing. Taiwan. the Kyoto Accord. Cuba. ballistic missile defense. Many experts think empires reach the point of collapse at the zenith of their expansion. During the 1970s. farm support. Serbia is a prime candidate as are all the other former Yugoslav republics. the international criminal court. Without US support. China. This would give the EU a border with Syria and Iraq. the success of the project was judged to be sufficiently important to US interests for the CIA to funnel millions of dollars into the European movement. and the death penalty as well as a whole raft of trade issues. as are all sovereign nations to some extent.2 per cent in 2005. The question needs to be addressed: Is the EU America’s friend or foe? The EU sees the two as co-equals and. Indeed. and from the Arctic wastes of Finland and Sweden in the north to Cyprus in the south.
those ideas are characterized by a desire to manage economic and political life in such a way as to create consensus and to exclude or marginalize those whose behavior or views are judged to be out of step. why do they disagree so often? The one statement that you would not have heard from a spokesman for the EU Commission in Brussels is: “We applaud American leadership. It has the defining features of a new nation. The differences which have been alluded to arise from the very nature of the European project and the ideas on which it is based. the British electorate would vote against the adoption of the Constitution by a substantial majority. The attempt to adopt a European Constitution has been stalled since 2004 when the French and Dutch rejected the proposed text in referenda1. army (of a sort). supreme court. So one is bound to ask: If it is truly the case that the EU and America share common political values. In addition to hostility to the nation state.20.” Indeed. we have now reached the point where EU policy gives every impression of having been defined in opposition to US policy. It is worth pausing to describe in concrete terms just how much progress has been achieved towards “ever-closer union” — the goal established in the treaty of Rome in 1957 which laid the foundations of the present European project. currency. but plans to hold a referendum in the UK were abandoned following the rejection of the document by the French and Dutch electorates.” And the Czech President has indicated a high level of dissent. The EU now has its own parliament. The Irish voted “no” but will probably be forced to vote again and again until they “get it right. it is difficult to think of a single major issue where the views of the US and the EU are identical. Those ideas are not the inevitable consequence of political integration but rather the foundation on which it has been constructed. given the opportunity. prosecutor. and we will back the US all the way. and emblem. Dealing with Brussels individual European political leaders who genuinely like and admire America. anthem. 149 . They are also characterized by a preference for group rights over individual rights and an innate dislike and fear of robust or “unmanaged” competition in both the political and economic spheres. executive. But after the attempt to bring in the constitution by the 1 Polling data has consistently shown that.
and a foreign minister. Now all of this might strike you as being purely Europe’s affair. In addition there is to be an extension of qualified majority voting in the European Council which will end the national veto in a number of areas including justice and criminal affairs. That is the ultimate goal of the ever-closer union: but it entails a stark and anti-democratic removal of sovereignty from this area which impacts directly on our most basic freedoms and liberties. One consequence will be that the protection enjoyed by British subjects for centuries as a result of habeas corpus and the presumption of innocence may disappear. In a move that must make Lady Thatcher squirm. and for breaches of laws that are not crimes or punishable in Britain. as EU competence increases.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady front door failed considerable success is being achieved as the result of attempts to introduce it through the back door. a president. the EU has purchased the entire office block (32 Smith Square) from which she won all three of her general elections. so the ability of member states to propose their own laws for their own people shrinks until it is extinguished. Among those attributes of a modern state that are to be added to the European design are full legal personality (which will enable the EU to sign treaties and to participate in international organizations as a single entity). according to some legal opinion. But the supranational institutions of the new top-down Europe (to which the once independent European states have ceded sovereignty) are remarkably undemocratic. 2006: If we surrender our veto on these matters. In the post-Second World War era this policy was triumphantly vindicated in the case of Western Europe where warshattered nations were restored to democracy. matters that are criminal offences in Britain could be decriminalized by a decision of the EU without any recourse to the will of the British people. EU-set penalties could be imposed on British subjects in Britain. The other horror is that. As Simon Heffer wrote in The Daily Telegraph on September 20. it is clear that if EU applied to itself the criteria that it re150 . But the principle that US interests are most likely to be served by the extension of democracy wherever possible has been one of the foundations of US foreign policy. In the judgment of a former EU Commissioner. even though such methods are of questionable legality. Equally.
as they would achieve much lower prices if they dropped out of the CAP. An outward looking EU that embraced open markets and free trade would serve US interests. In the list of EU attributes which was rehearsed a moment ago. as well as about the future relations between the EU and the United States. 151 . It is consequently difficult to envision how such a thing as European public opinion can evolve. None of this augurs well for those who hope that Europe could stand as an equal to the United States. The US also has ample grounds for disappointment with EU policies on the economy and trade. technological and military power stand in the way of the creation of a unitary European state as a countervailing force to the United States. it could not be admitted to the EU because it is insufficiently democratic. Dealing with Brussels cently applied to all new members. Enormous disparities in economic. no such thing as a European people or European nation. of course. and if this problem is compounded by the lack of a common language in which political discourse can take place. something was missing. It would also serve the interests of Europeans in their role as consumers. and it has provided an economy that aims to provide stability and security even at the cost of low growth. or a European public space. there is the ever-present danger that they will not accept majority decisions. In its top-down way Europe may have created many of the attributes of a state but there is. high taxes. of which English is the most widely spoken).20. The EU seems more concerned with people’s rights as workers than as consumers. And if people do not feel common bonds of allegiance and obligation. rigid labor markets. for years the euro-zone underperformed vis-à-vis the US. increasingly intrusive regulation. and a high level of trade protection in some sectors. or a European demos. Or indeed a common language (there are at least 20 different national languages. The political nature of the EU — which was sold to the British public as a strictly limited commercial undertaking — raises important questions about the long-term stability of this new entity. supporting those who doubt that effective monetary policy can be set over such a disparate area. In addition.
While America begins to ponder the wisdom of its support for the EU. like 99.e. the choices facing Britain are more urgent and acute. Essentially they argued that even in the early years the EU.9% of Conservatives. The more Britain is absorbed into the European project. To begin with she. the more it will distance itself not only from its most powerful and most constant ally. the United States. thought of the European project merely in terms of free movement of labor.. But having endorsed the project for half a century. Margaret Thatcher’s view of the EU has gone through three distinct phases. but also from self-government. Some evidently believe that the process of European integration is so well established that any reappraisal of US policy towards the EU would produce more problems than it would solve. many Americans seem reluctant to withdraw their support or even to recognize the nature of the Europe which they have helped to create. evident in the first Gulf War. It was to be welcomed. was already overstepping its mark. As IEA author Richard North has written in The Business (May 28/29. the UK’s support of the US. sold as an economic entity. when Belgium refused to supply the UK with artillery shells because it (Belgium) disapproved of its actions. As a result the practical value of British military assistance will be greatly reduced. 2006): “Britain’s war-making capabilities will progressively be defined by what its ‘partners’ will permit. capital and goods. as long as the country positioned itself more or less mid-way between Europe and America in terms of public philosophy and economic outlook.” Another consequence will be that. Russell Lewis clearly outlined this 152 . i. and the arguments of Enoch Powell and Russell Lewis were difficult and fell on deaf ears. But the lesson ought to be clear. For decades it was possible for many to believe that. even if the UK is able to defy the constraints imposed by the Common European Foreign and Security Policy in order to join its traditional American partner on some hightech battlefield of the future — a very big “if” indeed — its weapons may be incompatible with those of the US.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady British doubts about integration and how it will impact the special relationship with the US extend to the military sphere in particular. minor adjustments could be made according to circumstance and all would be well.
with traditional 1 The EEC (European Economic Community) is the former name of the EU. Dealing with Brussels in his Hobart Paperback for the IEA entitled Rome or Brussels…? By 1971 he saw that: A recent document … published with the authority of the Commission is described in its introduction as “not … formal proposals but as a substantial contribution to a wide ranging discussion of social policy. ‘greater social justice’. She wrote: “That such an unnecessary and irrational superstate was ever embarked on will seem in future years to be perhaps the greatest folly of the modern era. corrupt and deeply corrupting monster was growing in Brussels. She was combative when across the English Channel be it at Brussels or Fontainebleau or Strasbourg. The rebate was a payment to the UK in order to compensate for a massive shortfall between what the UK put into the EU pot and what it got out. She held her party together on the issue much more effectively than any of her now five successors as Tory leader. And that Britain. As it became clear that the project was rotten to its very core so more Conservative MPs joined the Euroskeptic circles. “I want my money back. It says ‘the major aims of society’ are ‘full and better employment’. This was totally fair as she said she was not asking for any more money from the EU but simply: “What we are asking is for a very large amount of our own money back. And for example she won a huge rebate. There is no mention of the objectives to which these might be regarded as subsidiary or as means to a larger end: the independence. ‘better quality of living’.” Yet it seems to go gratuitously far in its assumptions on what the peoples of the countries in the EEC1… may want. Thatcher’s second phase (essentially much of the ’70s and ’80s) was one of compromise at home and combat overseas. 153 . As leader she had to hold together a Party increasingly divided on the European issue. But as the EU went from a loose trading model toward federalism she became increasingly uneasy. namely down the road of illiberal tendencies first observed by the IEA in the early 1970s. Mrs. And Labour was against it so that was another good reason for Margaret Thatcher to be for it.” These days it is clear which way the EU went.20. freedom of personal choice and opportunities for self-help.” This is often misquoted as.” Once relieved of the need to generate Party loyalty she moved into a third highly critical phase as it became clearer and clearer what an ugly.
Polls suggest 63% of grass root Tory Party members and a majority of Tory MPs are Eurosceptic. As the “free market” Common Market metamorphosed into the institutions described above so more and more Tories began to move against it. but not many. With 56% of the public wanting nothing but a European common market one wonders: ŪŪ When will her party split in two? ŪŪ How long can the UK stay in the EU if so many are against it? and ŪŪ Will UKIP (United Kingdom Independence Party) gain enough support in Tory marginal seats to deny her party any real chance of power? What will become of her legacy? 154 .Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady strengths and global destiny. The Tory Party however is different. There are a handful of Labour and Liberal Democrats with EU concerns. should ever have become part of it will appear a political error of the first magnitude.” By 2002 she was openly asking the applicant countries not to join and declared that the UK needed either to renegotiate its terms of membership or simply withdraw. Labour while once opposed to this “free-market” Common Market now embraces it warmly and the Liberal Democrats were always on the side of the EU. The EU does pose a real challenge today for her Party.
After nearly a decade in office and well over a decade as Party Leader. you would be prepared to compromise on anything at any time. she was 3 and 0 in General Election victories1. and you would achieve nothing. and. There had been murmurs of disquiet starting soon after her third victory in 1987: “Just how long is she going to go on?” people asked.21.” “I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding because I think. She was never defeated at the polls. “Have the Brits gone mad?” many Americans asked me. 1983 and 1987 and European Elections in 1979 and 1984. Resignation “If you just set out to be liked.” To most Americans the sudden departure of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in late 1990 was and still is a matter of great puzzlement. And she never lost a vote of confidence in the House of Commons. if they attack one personally. well. They flinched when she proclaimed in 1989 that she was “fit for 10 more years. 155 . 1 While she had won UK General Elections in 1979. dominant world leader.” although many close to her thought she would win a fourth general election and then retire. it means they have not a single political argument left. but equally many who felt overlooked. she had just lost her first nationwide vote in June 1989 for the latter. there were many who owed their entire career to her. post-Reagan. under promoted or even unfairly dumped. she was an even more senior.
then fifteen years as leader and eleven as Prime Minister must seem like eons. Meyer was the antithesis of Thatcher. he’d spent years in the Foreign Office in the days when it was leaking secrets to Moscow. for example. 1 A PPS acts as a minister’s eyes and ears in Parliament. the French rewarded him with a medal. Thatcher MP herself jumped this bottom rung. be a member of a select committee or table an amendment to a Government Bill. A PPS cannot. bad by-election results to Sir Anthony Meyer. Critics trace that one incident through her increasingly presidential style. In 1989. disappointed and disreputable to grow. when Michael Heseltine favored a European rescue and Leon Brittan favored the US firm Sikorsky. PPSs are expected to vote with the government and to keep a low profile in the House. her Bruges speech. 156 . the loss of Howe and then Lawson. There was never a chance he could win but the very fact that anyone ran against her signaled there was a chink in her armor.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady It is said she never promoted an MP with a beard — there were three. His career had peaked in the early 1970s when he had been a Parliamentary Private Secretary1 (PPS) at a minor department. ran against her for the leadership of the Conservative Party. the poll tax. An appointment as a PPS is seen as the first rung on the ladder towards ministerial office. Her critics say the decline started as early as 1985 with the so-called Westland affair. Later he would chair all manner of groups campaigning to abridge British sovereignty by joining the EU. It was also said that she did not promote the brilliant Jonathan Aitken MP because he had once broken off a romance with her daughter: “He made Carol cry!” It was also claimed no man with a bow tie could expect promotion. Eton educated. The young Mrs. and she supposedly did not trust any man with a beard. There was ample of time for the numbers of the disaffected. a complete unknown. Meyer was resoundingly humiliated on December 5. making sure the minister is kept well informed of backbench opinion on his or her performance. with a hereditary title and inherited wealth. Sir Anthony Meyer MP. If a week is a long time in politics (as Prime Minister Harold Wilson once said).
157 .000 to 3. say. using next to no local services. It replaced the rates system which was paid by all residential property owners based on the value of their home rather than the number occupying it. The next year.500 turned violent. He became a lecturer on EU matters.000 people marched on Westminster and a group of 3. Two issues dominated and divided her cabinet and her party. 1990. Resignation Margaret Thatcher Anthony Meyer Spoiled * 314 33 24 3 374 281 Abstentions Total Electorate Majority * A spoiled vote is one that is not filled in correctly or one on which. one very publicly and one more privately. The result was the Community Charge1 which was quickly dubbed the ‘Poll Tax’ and. every leftist group in the country jumped on the anti bandwagon. Over 100 people were injured and over 400 people ar1 The Community Charge was a fixed payment paid by all adults to their local authorities. As noted in Chapter 7. the British system of local taxation was based on property values so that a retired widow with an empty nest. But the fact remained that votes for him plus abstentions plus spoiled amounted to 60. Civil unrest ensued culminating in a riot in central London where 70. sensing trouble. and died in obscurity on Christmas Eve 2004. defected to the Liberal Democrats.21. Every year the press would feature stories of grotesque unfairness and ever since her brief spell as Shadow Environment Secretary in 1974 Prime Minister Thatcher had been wanting to reform the whole system. could be paying the same amount as a family of five consuming vast amounts of public goods and services such as schools. was a terrible one for Prime Minister Thatcher and indeed it was to be her last in 10 Downing Street. swimming pools and libraries.” and press reports emerged that for 26 years he had been having an affair with black model and blues singer Simone Washington (who had kept a diary of their antics). parks. Meyer’s own parliamentary constituency then voted 2 to 1 to deselect him on the grounds of “treachery. Nigel Lawson was to brand this “the most disastrous single decision” she ever made. the voter has written a message or inserted another name.
in the House of Commons. writing: “I do so [resign] with very great regret. It has been a privilege and an honour for me to have contributed to that success. which showed the following data: Labour Conservatives Liberal Democrats Other Labour Lead over Conservatives 56% 32% 6% 6% +24% Given that the most likely date for the next general election was only 18 months away. It can be transferred to humans. On October 31. Almost sixteen years have passed since you asked me to serve as Shadow Chancellor. 1 Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (Mad Cow Disease) is an infectious degenerative brain disease occurring in cattle. a BSE1 scare and a continental beef ban. who had been her first brilliant Chancellor. Tory MPs with marginal seats were getting worried and nothing does more to bend the spine of an MP than the thought of losing his or her seat. There was a host of other minor problems such as a new burst of price increases. to rebuild the economic and political strength of our nation. the issue which still splits the Conservative Party in two to this day. riots in a prison in the northern city of Manchester. Prime Minister Thatcher launched a vigorous attack on Jacques Delors.000. He resigned the very next day. Her answer for Delors (echoing de Gaulle’s “non” in 1967) was “No! No! No!” This was too much for her Deputy Prime Minister Sir Geoffrey Howe. Since then we have done so much together. 158 . but the real clincher was the European Union. Even Tories with safe seats trembled at such a Labour lead. It was clear that such civil unrest was affecting Prime Minister Thatcher’s standing in the party and in the polls. centrist. top-down vision of a European superstate. Your own strong leadership has been of crucial importance in making this possible. head of the European Commission and his federalist. against the odds. high interest rates.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady rested on that day alone and the damage costs exceeded $800.
Twelve days went by. I very much regret your decision.21. That is my style. now free from the collective restraints of cabinet government. and in particular by the budget of 1981. Howe replied the very next day to a jam-packed House of Commons and responded to her metaphor as follows: “It is rather like sending your opening batsman [batter] to the crease [home plate] only for them to find the moment the first ball is bowled [pitched]. no stonewalling. Howe did not avail himself of this as he had lost his voice. that their bat had been broken before the game by the team captain. makes a speech from his new seat on the backbenches. coming unexpectedly after we have worked together for so long. It helped to ensure that we came to office with a clear and radical programme for changing Britain and reversing the decline of the Labour years. for a responsible society and for greater British influence in the world. no playing for time. And in case anyone doubted it. As I told you when you came to see me earlier this evening. you took the main burden of implementing our economic policies: and you did so with courage and fortitude in the face of many attempts to push us off course. Resignation “Our work has been based on common values and shared beliefs— for economic and personal freedom.” 159 . can I assure you there will be no ducking the bouncers [bean balls. Prime Minister Thatcher used the following cricket-based metaphor: “I am still at the crease [home plate]. I have always tried as best as I can to uphold and advance those principles in a way that united our Party and served the best interests of Britain. I shall for ever be grateful for your distinguished service and your sturdy and unflinching support in difficult times. Although our principles have been sorely tested by opponents of the Government at different times over the last eleven years. The foundations of Britain’s economic success in the 1980s were laid in those earlier years. though the bowling [pitching] has been pretty hostile of late. The bowling’s [pitching’s] going to get hit all round the ground [ball park].” Part of the British political tradition is that very soon after such senior resignations the person involved. speaking at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet in the City of London. As Chancellor of the Exchequer. “Your contribution to the philosophy of modern Conservatism and to the policies which we brought to Government in 1979 was great indeed.” The Prime Minister replied: “Thank you for your letter telling me of your decision to leave the Government and the reasons for it. then. or balls pitched at a batter’s head].” Cleverly.
Heseltine or “Hezza” was a major hitter having served in her Cabinet as Secretary of State for the Environment from 1979 to 1983 and as Secretary of State for Defense from 1983 to 1986. it had been changed from 15% of those voting to 15% of those entitled to vote. whereas in 1990 it had to be 15% of 400 — 57 versus 60. He was a big man in the jungle of politics. This is a small change but it led to momentous events. Because of the nature of the contest it was also feared that supporters of the other candidates would help Hezza to wound the Prime Minister mortally thus preparing the way for their man in the “coward’s round. In a two-horse race. This is crucial in understanding what happened to Prime Minister Thatcher. say. “Whose?” I asked. he was wealthy having founded and built up Haymarket. a major publishing company. totally intrigued. he was also ambitious. He was experienced. 3 See previous explanation in Chapter 8. “My own!” he said. Take an easy example of 400 MPs. A month later and the annual window of opportunity to challenge her leadership would have passed and she would have had 11 months to recover.3” There had also been that very significant rule change regarding the margin needed for victory on the first round. the dumped. 201 is a simple majority but if. twenty people abstained or spoiled their ballots then according to the 1965 rules the margin had to be 15% of 380. 1 Westland was a British Helicopter firm that was going bust. While Thatcher wanted the American firm Sikorski Fiat to take over the company. This was serious stuff even if he was a complete corporatist and not the sharpest blade in the kitchen2. Unlike the nondescript Meyer. Prominent leftist Michael Heseltine (who had left her government in typically flamboyant style over the Westland Affair1 in 1986) rapidly moved to challenge her. 160 . photogenic and a rallying point for the Left. Heseltine (at the time the Defense Minister) preferred a European consortium’s rescue package. It was not to be. “What are you doing these days?” “Writing a biography. “But isn’t that an autobiography?” I said. With his shock of brushed back long blond hair he was known as Tarzan. despite the shareholders preferring the Sikorski deal.” he replied. 2 Years later the author asked him.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady The timing could hardly have been worse. the overlooked and the cowardly.
Chancellor of the Exchequer. 1990. 161 .” said Morrison. a final push may have secured the four votes needed for an outright win for Prime Minister Thatcher. Resignation As before. that they had 220 plus votes in the bag with a count of about 110 for Heseltine and some 40 plus yet undecided. if you haven’t won then there are a lot of Tory MPs who are lying. If the second round failed to produce a winner the top two would go to a third round. Prime Minister Thatcher was sufficiently confident of victory that she plus Morrison plus Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd MP were all at the Fontainebleau Summit. a signal that he was worried about her losing. The Thatcher leadership team consisted of George Younger (MP for Ayr). who she knew was “heavily involved in his business affairs” as he had left his ministerial post to become Chairman of the Royal Bank of Scotland. He said that to do so would send a sign of weakness. They assured her that everything was going well. Peter Morrison (MP for Chester) and Michael Neubert (MP for Romford) neither of whom had ever gotten very far at all. naive.” sophisticated as in devious! On the big day. November 20. 2 “Prime Minister. France rather than back at home campaigning2. declined to cancel a minor dental operation and work the tea rooms and bars on her behalf. Major was the ultimate beneficiary of her defeat. After all they claim to be the “most sophisticated electorate in the world. The result of the first ballot was: 1 The late Alan Clark MP once claimed he had gone to visit Morrison at his office only to find him fast asleep. And a fourth member of her camp John Major MP. Tuesday. (Major states his PPS Graham Bright MP was his proxy). While all of them (as far as we know) voted by proxy. However there was none of the hard edge that Airey Neave and Bill Shelton had brought to her 1975 campaign against Heath and she privately worried that Morrison and Neubert believed everything the electorate of MPs said. “bungling. more candidates could enter the second round the following week when only an absolute majority would be needed. On waking Morrison quickly claimed that he had more than enough pledges. It would be kind to call them lackadaisical1.21. idle and inept” would be more accurate as one MP who was there put it to me recently.
Their line was “Don’t risk eleven years of hard work being undone by Heseltine — make sure a safe pair of hands such as John Major takes over. I fight to win. Michael Portillo MP and Michael Fallon MP rushed to Number 10 to tell her to stand firm. And others such as Cecil Parkinson MP. But as that Wednesday wore on a drama worthy of Shakespeare began to unfold. They were soon joined by others such as Norman Tebbit 1 Whether all were 100% firm in their support is doubtful given the natural instinct of many politicians. So it was a very clear victory and in 1965 she would have won but under the revised rules she failed by four votes.” She also commented: “It would be so terrible if Michael won… he would undo everything I fought for. Kenneth Baker MP. John Wakeham MP and Nicholas Ridley MP declared for her.” News spread around the tiny village of Westminster and Thatcher loyalists in the junior ranks such as Michael Forsyth MP.” Before returning to London she had Round Two support from Douglas Hurd MP and John Major MP. 162 . Other than Ken Clarke. Two MPs switching from Heseltine would have made the majority 56 and she would have hit the required level. one by one they pledged their support1 and one by one they said she would lose. Norman Tebbit MP. Guided by Peter Morrison who for some reason was not sacked for failing on the first round (although George Younger was replaced by John Wakeham and Neubert simply disappeared) she began a long series of one on one meetings with each of her cabinet members. So the contest moved to Round Two with Prime Minister Thatcher declaring “I fight on.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher Michael Heseltine Abstentions/spoiled Total Electorate Majority * 204 152 16 372 52 * Note that the total electorate had fallen since Meyer’s challenge as the Conservative Party had lost Mid Staffordshire to Labour and Eastbourne to the Liberal Democrats. respectively her Foreign Secretary and Chancellor of the Exchequer.
” had been the advice of her ever loyal Denis. John Major was declared leader of the Conservative Party by 1922 Committee Chairman Cranley Onslow MP with nineteen less votes than Prime Minister Thatcher had garnered! And he satisfied neither of the conditions needed to win! Bizarre. Meanwhile Robert Dunn MP and David Davis MP were collecting the signatures of MPs for a letter they soon hand delivered to Number 10 asking her to fight on. John Townend MP. 163 . “Don’t go on. I voted for her out of loyalty and now I will have to vote for what’s best for the party/ country/ constituency” was a complete Heseltine ruse and not to be believed at all. The oft heard line “Oh. Resignation MP. battered and bruised by this chorus of naysayers. George Gardiner MP and Edward Leigh MP. she withdrew. Davis in particular warned her that her support was not crumbling. November 27. Many felt that a Prime Minister should be forced out of office only by either Parliament (vote of confidence) or a General Election. Chris Chope MP. “The only people peddling that line were the people who had voted for Heseltine” observed Davis! The next day. The second round took place on Tuesday. love. As she left Number 10 for the last time as Prime Minister she said: “We’re leaving Downing Street for the last time after eleven-and-ahalf wonderful years and we’re happy to leave the UK in a very much better state than when we came here.21. and the result was: John Major Michael Heseltine Douglas Hurd Majority Turnout 185 131 56 54 372 Technically Major (“the best of a very poor bunch” she reportedly said) was just short on both conditions for winning (as he did not get an absolute majority or a 15% majority over his nearest rival) but Heseltine and Hurd withdrew making a third ballot unnecessary.” A major chapter of British history had ended.
The only post-war Prime Ministers not to have taken a 1 In the UK former Prime Ministers are normally referred to as Mr. X or Sir Y or Lord Z. nearly 12 years.” For a man who never held office in government and ended up in the House of Lords despite being a critic of the Upper House. Thatcher expressed a desire to stay in politics — however. Thatcher actually retiring is laughable to those who know her. Prime Minister1. Mrs. Margaret Thatcher is unique in that many people still address her as “Prime Minister.” The idea of Mrs. Sixteen months after leaving Downing Street she would step down as MP for Finchley at the April ’92 General Election. Even today 6 years after being told by her doctors to slow down and take it easy she has a busy diary and even complained to me in my role as Director General of the IEA recently “you don’t invite me here often enough!” Yes. That’s nearly half as long again as any American president can be president of the United States.22. as a member of the House of Lords.” 165 . which was pretty much her prerogative as a former Prime Minister. this was rich indeed. Retirement “I had the marvellous privilege of being there for 11½. Labour leader Neil Kinnock greeted this news in his usual fashion as follows: this is “one of her wiser judgments” as “she does not want to face losing her seat or at best going on the opposition benches.
Back in her former spot on the backbenches she made few interventions in her remaining months in the Commons. she glanced inside and asked “Oh! Is this the Patron’s office?” 166 . She followed matters in Serbia and Bosnia very carefully. On re1 She gave $3 million. ŪŪ many major worldwide lecture tours particularly to the US and Japan. She entered the House of Lords in June 1992 as Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven which. as a district. setting up offices on Great College Street literally yards away from Parliament. In return she was named Patron of THF — on walking by the vast suite which is the office of the President of THF.” A rumor even swept Westminster that on bumping into the Foreign Secretary (Secretary of State) Douglas Hurd she’d admonished him thus: “Douglas. To her it was a “killing field the like of which I thought we would never see in Europe again. Cambridge. Douglas.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady peerage are Winston Churchill. a book of reflections on international affairs. but always declared her support for her successor. includes the town of Grantham where she was born and raised. ŪŪ the creation of a free enterprise Chair in her name at Cambridge University (a big mistake) along with the deposit of her papers at Churchill College. you would make Neville Chamberlain look like a warmonger.” She became the 21st overall and first ever lady chancellor of southern Virginia’s College of William and Mary from 1993 to 2000. She was no Ted Heath. ŪŪ Statecraft (2002). Over the next decades her achievements included: ŪŪ two huge best selling volumes of memoirs The Downing Street Years (1993) and The Path To Power (1995). ŪŪ the establishment of the Margaret Thatcher Foundation to which all her speaker fees went and which eventually paid for the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom at The Heritage Foundation (THF) in Washington DC1. Good leverage. Edward Heath and John Major — they all took knighthoods. As a former Prime Minister she needed security and support and was much helped in this by Lord McAlpine. however. and ŪŪ many potent interventions in public debate. as long as they matched it two-for-one for a total of $9 million.
an absolute master.” She also performed brilliantly from 1993 to 1998 as Chancellor of the University of Buckingham. in layers of golfing clothes to ward off the cold. Buckingham prides itself on its small classes. saying at the Plymouth rally. The one time I congratulated him on his stoicism. or cease to feel the powerful inspiration that you have given in the cause of liberal learning. “It’s wonderful to be here this evening. many more of our servicemen would have lost their lives in the South Atlantic. 167 . Sullivan said: “Lady Thatcher. in the service of freedom and in the rich and noble history of English-speaking peoples. Every single one of them for six years received their diploma from Lady Thatcher and had their photo taken with her.” The 2001 General Election saw her on the campaign trail for the then Tory leader William Hague and for once she spontaneously displayed a jokey sense of humor. we will never forget the vital lessons that you have taught. which she had helped gain full status back in 1983 (see Chapter 6). the President of William and Mary Timothy J.22. thinking Lady Thatcher was HM Queen Elizabeth and this was the thing to do. It was an arduous task accomplished with great grace and savoir-faire (with Denis. strengthened our resolve and changed our lives — and as a consequence we will never be the same. campaigning for a Conservative victory. She was by then utterly brilliant at such matters. You have captured our hearts. It has no major amphitheatre. Retirement tirement. On several occasions she visited with or came to the defense of former Chilean President Augusto Pinochet. Lady Thatcher would always smile graciously — with a slight laugh about her mouth — and help the miscreant to his or her feet. the UK’s first private university. Therefore every graduation ceremony takes place in its local church and batches of students are wheeled in over a two day period. “I can say that without President Pinochet’s considerable practical help in 1982. Buckingham attracts many overseas students and I always chuckled as some foreign twenty-one year-old boy or girl would bow or curtsey. To her it was simple. The country thus owes him a great debt. sitting uncomplaining in the front row of seats). To her Pinochet had been a key ally in the Falklands War. he replied “Oh no! Margaret deserves all the credit.” I am not sure if he heard me correctly.
That’s another book for someone else to write. At a reception for the Czech President Dr. 2006. With great regret she has decided to abide by this advice and to cancel all her speaking engagements. 168 . a large well-produced volume. but on the way here I passed a local cinema and it turns out you were expecting me after all. Lady Thatcher [at age 76] has suffered a number of small strokes. the spring of 2002 brought a less encouraging announcement. They have therefore told her to cut back her program at once and in particular to avoid the undue strains that public speaking places on her. She could not be stopped. There is a sense in which she does not have to speak. While it’s true that she has never since given a major public speech I witnessed her within months of these small strokes give a rousing four to five minute speech at a House of Lords reception for the Mont Pelerin Society 2002 London General Meeting. And at the opening of the foundation which houses her papers at Cambridge University she also spoke for several minutes. A silence — a refusal to endorse — can be as loud as praise. It was a serious piece of scholarship. her doctors have told her that these can neither be predicted nor prevented.” They added that she would have to rest and take it easy and that she would never speak in public again.” And people say she has no sense of humor! However. Vaclav Klaus at the IEA on May 10.1 Lady Thatcher: What’s this about? Author: It’s about the problems of the welfare system and how we got where we are.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady in this enterprising port of Plymouth. Her office issued the following statement: “Over recent months. I was told beforehand my arrival was unscheduled. After thorough investigation involving a number of tests. by James Bartholomew. a 50-somethingyear-old man approached her and gave her a big hardback book he’d written on the problems of the welfare state — he’d even inscribed it to her lavishly. Her personality is a presence in British politics. Lady Thatcher: What’s the solution? Author: I don’t have one. The billboard reads The Mummy Returns. She remains robust in discussion. 1 The Welfare State We’re In.
she pre-recorded her eulogy to the late President and it was played on large screens to the assembled crowds. and the accountability of Parliament to the people.” At every turn there where household names from every walk of life including: TV presenter Jeremy Clarkson. I believe she would have handed it back. bring me solutions! If he had not inscribed the book to her. Like the Maastricht treaty. composer Andrew Lloyd-Webber. Her Majesty the Queen and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh attended. Her nemesis Geoffrey Howe. (See extracts from her eulogy below in Chapter 24. the applause from the assembled guests was led by former MP Michael Portillo and this author — neither of us happened to have a drink in hand and we were therefore free to clap — and clap loudly and holler “bravo. Because I believe in these principles so deeply I cannot support the ratification of the Maastricht treaty. our democratic institutions. and I welcome sterling’s departure from the Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM). so that when Labour did 169 . who as noted earlier had banned her from public speaking in 2002.) Don’t bring me problems.22. she made the solemn journey to the US for the funeral of her international ally and long time friend Ronald Reagan. The ERM and Maastricht are inextricably linked. In order not to upset the doctors. Thanks to the decision to float the pound. should have as its main priority the maintenance of our constitutional freedoms. media mogul Rupert Murdoch. young man. She also continued to oppose the ever-encroaching European Union from the House of Lords stating in a passionate speech in 1993: “This Conservative government. 2005. the ERM in no way represents what is best for British interests. The first is a prerequisite to the fulfilment of the second. commented: “Her real triumph was to have transformed not just one party but two. Retirement Lady Thatcher: (hitting the author vigorously on his left arm with the large book. actress Joan Collins and the then Prime Minister Tony Blair. As she entered the hall. and celebrated with a huge party at Hyde Park’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel.) She turned 80 on October 13. the strait-jacket of the second would be ruinous. now Lord Howe of Aberavon. we now have a chance to follow an economic policy that puts British needs first. We found the confines of the first unbearable.” In 2004. like its predecessors. She was a few minutes late because President Bush II phoned just as she was about to leave her Chester Square home.
The Labour Party remains convinced that the state should provide schooling and health care but it has abandoned all regard for nationalization or price controls. In September of the same year she visited Washington DC for the official memorial service marking the 5th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. turned out to see the unveiling. Milton Friedman. right across the political spectrum. I shall greatly miss my old friend’s lucid wisdom and mordant humour. In April 2006 she flew to the States for the funeral of US Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger. that she “might have preferred iron.” adding that it was “an honor” as all other statues of Prime Ministers in the Members’ lobby have been erected posthumously.” 170 . but bronze will do.” Asked on TV in late 2005 what her mom did for fun now.” This may be her greatest praise. She’s not very well. in November 2006 led her to say the following: “Milton Friedman revived the economics of liberty when it had been all but forgotten. He was an intellectual freedom fighter. She’s got to a ripe old age really and if you hold down that sort of job for eleven and a half years something’s going to blow a gasket on you. who had so staunchly supported her during the Falklands War and had helped to persuade the administration to come down in her favor. isn’t it?” But despite this Lady Thatcher continues to remain active in British politics. standing 7’ 4” atop a 3’ plinth. Never was there a less dismal practitioner of a dismal science. This was perhaps best shown by the turnout in 2007 for the unveiling of her statue in the Members’ Lobby in the House of Commons where members from all sides of both Houses. One MP joked to the author: “The statue is nearly as intimidating as Margaret herself. The death of her great University of Chicago mentor. Lady Thatcher herself said of the bronze statue. Lady Thatcher has rendered those aspects of socialism mere archaeology.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady eventually return. the great bulk of Thatcherism was accepted as irreversible. indeed the politics of Thatcherism have never gone away and their influence can be seen on all of the parties in the UK. daughter Carol replied: “Not a lot.
22. 171 . Palmerston. she will receive the ultimate honor of a State funeral. Such an accolade will put her right up there with Churchill. Nelson. something normally reserved for senior members of the royal family. Wellington. Retirement Come the day she passes on. Gladstone and Darwin.
But with Denis there. he kept his mouth shut. second. Duke of York. What a friend. However. I was never alone. Family “They are taking it all in their stride. As Lady Thatcher said upon his death in 2003. his patience could be tested. What a husband. he once terminated a late night press briefing with two loud words from the back of the room: “Margaret — BED!” He loved quoting Mark Twain: “Better keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than open it and remove all doubt.” His secret was twofold: first he did not let being her consort dominate his life — he kept his own interests and his own schedule to some extent.” He called journalists “reptiles” and he never gave an interview.” Denis “I couldn’t have done it without Denis. What a man.” In that line the following conversation with the Duchess of York (the former wife of Prince Andrew. His motto was “always present.23. who is the second son of HRH Queen Elizabeth II and fourth in the line of succession to 173 . they take it. Whatever comes. In a sense. it ought to be — you cannot lead from a crowd. never there.” It is hard to overestimate the support of Denis. aged 88: “Being PM is a lonely job.
he served in the Territorial Army (the reserves) rising to the rank of Major and being awarded an MBE. Denis was educated at boarding school. His daughters Beatrice and Eugenie are fifth and sixth in line) was once reported: Duchess of York: Oh. Denis sold the family business to Castrol in the mid 1950s for a sum that in today’s world would be many millions. South London. I do get awful press. ma’am. He became famous for his games of golf with close friend Bill Deedes. It was then involved in many kinds of liquids and chemical production and he started at the bottom. a real character and a real gentleman. The daughter of a Hertfordshire jeweler called Leonard Kempson. Denis. former Cabinet Minister and former editor of The 1 Sixth form equals 11th and 12th grade. finishing at the world famous Mill Hill Sixth Form College1. In 1941 he met a Margaret Kempson at an officers’ tea dance and they married in 1942 but because of the war they never set up a home together as Denis was very quickly posted abroad. He was an immensely popular man. Denis never talked of her publicly and only broke his silence to his daughter Carol. He joined Atlas Preservatives in 1933 straight from school. Has it occurred to you to keep your mouth shut? His grandfather ran a successful business in New Zealand making weed killer to keep train lines free of such impediments and his father moved to England as a young man to establish a parent company called Atlas Preservatives. She moved on and they soon divorced. Margaret Thatchers. 174 . a former MP. don’t I? Denis: Yes. William and Harry. on divorce the first Margaret immediately married Sir Howard Hickman Bt. the same year his wife became leader of her Party. the marriage over so quickly that if Denis had been a Catholic he could have asked for an annulment. Born in 1915 in Lewisham. It was in turn bought by Burmah Oil Company of which he became Divisional Director of Control and Planning. During World War II. retiring in 1975. It is often said that there was a striking physical resemblance between the two Mrs. Poor eyesight limited him to general staff duties.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady the throne after Charles.
23. Family Daily Telegraph. The plot centers around Denis’s desire for a stiff drink. His joy of having the place to himself is short lived as the Summit. 2 Not John Major. I have vivid memories of trying to work in my conservatory as my neighbor practiced her lines outside in her garden. And if there was no tonic. is switched to Chequers and as a result the drinks cabinet is locked. so what? The British satirical magazine Private Eye started a fortnightly (every two weeks) letter from Denis to Bill entitled “Dear Bill” all about life behind the scenes at Number 10 and the Prime Minister’s weekend residence Chequers. as envisaged by Professor Milton Schulman. playing Margaret. In those days British theatres were not allowed to open on Sundays. It takes a certain sang froid or pretty cool attitude to agree to give up an evening to see yourself and your husband/wife mercilessly parodied on stage with several hundred people laughing at it. one of Denis’s friends.’ 1 Her son is Rupert Penry-Jones. the author’s then next door neighbor. “Dear Bill” was a huge hit although Angela told me she would get very nervous as John Wells would insert extemporaneous material from that day’s papers at every performance to which she had to react without notice or warning. then unknown. 175 . However they could open for a charity performance which they duly did one Sunday with the Thatchers traveling all of 300 yards from Downing Street to the Whitehall Theatre. Thatcher agreed to attend a performance. She worked hard on one single word namely “Denis” because that was her first word and it was meant to be delivered with a certain authority. Written by Richard Ingrams and John Wells this was turned into a stage play with Wells himself playing Denis and the actress Angela Thorne1. At the height of the success of the play the Prime Minister and Mr. He was also known for his thirst quenching large gin and tonics. The play also pokes fun at some of the Thatcher’s closest allies: Major2: ‘Having as our objective the immediate limiting of the money supply. on short notice. an accomplished actor in the UK. The play follows Denis’s quest for the key to the cabinet and the lengths he will go to in order to get it. Denis goes to Chequers (the Prime Minister’s country retreat) and invites some of his drinking buddies for a weekend while the Prime Minister is away at a European Summit. but a character referred to as the Major.
Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady Maggie: Friedman. that does rather narrow the field. was love and loyalty.” After a particularly nasty BBC TV interview of the Prime Minister: “She was stitched up by bloody BBC poofs2 and trots. and vice versa. Maggie: Mayor1? Schubert: Beer belly. albeit a rather talkative wife. broken veins. myself. Maggie: Ah. Margaret’s taken rather a shine to him though. 3 Trotsky-ites. Schubert: He talked at first good common sense. Denis was made a Baronet. 176 . All I could produce. I’m told he has already bankrupted the economies of Chile and Israel. Maggie: Willie Whitelaw? Jim Prior? It could be practically any member of my Cabinet from the description. 2 Gays. Asked about his wife being ill and stopping public speaking: “She’ll be all right as long as she listens to us.” On marriage: “For 40 years I have been married to one of the greatest women the world has ever produced.. a theory of Marxism as advocated by Leon Trotsky. but quite an agreeable little man with gold-rimmed spectacles. And the Cabinet: Schubert: Ah. adherents of Trotskyism. I agree that might seem more than average qualifications for determining the country’s economic future.. But the play and the letters made Denis into a major celebrity in his own right and his one-liners often made the news.3“ In 1991. I’d much prefer a fountain pen. the Government of Burma gave us two ten-ton statues. bloodshot eyes mit big bags. and the people most likely to read Socialist Worker... This meant that his wife Margaret became Lady Thatcher while still an MP in the Com1 “Major” said with a German accent.” Warning people about gifts of heavy statues: “When I was at Burmah Oil. Prime Minister! Strange advisors you have. becoming Sir Denis Thatcher 1st Baronet Thatcher of Scotney in the County of Kent. Major: What has he got to do with it? Denis: In practice very little. so this is her last chance. Milton Schulman on the other hand is some sort of Canadian extap-dancer. small as it may be. She’s been told twice.
Carol “I was not nearly as newsworthy as Mark. Family mons. 1996). She.” 1 Jonathan Aitken was a Conservative MP who reportedly was denied a Cabinet post by Margaret as he “made Carol cry. Carol clearly inherited Denis’s plain speaking. A career in journalism followed as did her diary of the 1983 General Election (Diary of an Election: with Margaret Thatcher on the Campaign Trail. Carol read law (in the early 1970s) at University College. Yes it meant she had access but it also cut the number of places where she could work. She has never married and recently described herself as a “roaming singleton” and “past my sell-by date for that sort of thing. became Lady Thatcher in her own right when moving to the House of Lords in 1992. Educated at St Paul’s boarding school for girls. 177 . London. Education Secretary Thatcher was worried that some violent leftist nutcase students might target her daughter.” If the parents had a favorite among their children. And she always — in her younger years — felt in the shadow of Mark. then it is almost certain that Carol was her dad’s and Mark was very much his mom’s. of course. It also meant that son Mark became Sir Mark Thatcher 2nd Baronet on the passing of Denis in 2003. (Below the Parapet: the Biography of Denis Thatcher. She certainly never attended a student Conservative meeting.” There has. And his American son will one day become the 3rd Baronet. a top establishment. including as already noted a well-publicized romance with Jonathan Aitken1 in the 1970s. However Carol kept her head down and remained pretty anonymous. 1983) and a wonderful biography of Denis. In 1991 she refused to pay the Community Charge or “poll tax” and when asked by journalists what her mother would think of this she replied.23. however been a string of relationships. She telephoned Conservative student leaders such as myself in London asking that we all be alert to any danger to her daughter. “Mom won’t give a ----.” He was later charged with perjury and perverting the course of justice and was jailed in 1999 for several years. Being a journalist and daughter of the Prime Minister was however a bit of a two edged sword.
” (Jonathan Aitken) It would be kind to say Mark struggled at Harrow.” She started the two-week-long jungle stay as the bookie’s rank 33 to 1 outsider but as the program developed she gathered momentum and saw off a lot of more famous TV stars. boorishness and infidelity. In 1985 allegations were made (which he has always denied) that he received a substantial commission on the $40 billion Saudi Al Yamamah arms deal signed by his mother. He cleverly eschewed higher education and entered accountancy only to leave after failing the exam three times. Carol replied: “I don’t know her number.” (Anon. “I’m a Celebrity. 178 . problematic business deals and a role in a failed African coup unfolded as he became famous for arrogance. Dad. They went missing for six days in the Sahara Desert. Get Me Out of Here.) “…a kind of low-order pantomime rent-a-spiv. ready humor and doughty toughness rapidly endeared her to the eight million viewers and helped her to outmaneuver better known personalities. pop stars and comedians as “her unflinching honesty. He first came to national prominence in January of 1982 as retold in the Preface when competing with a very pretty French lady co-driver (Charlotte Verney) in the Paris to Dakar automobile rally.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady From being a minor celebrity she leapt to prominence in late 2005 when she won the British reality TV series. A life of scrapes. what are you doing here?” Denis was not amused.” Mark “Mark has one topic of conversation — himself.” (Sunday Telegraph) “Carol never had a good word to say about Mark. Mark Thatcher Racing was wound up and several more failed career attempts followed. When the rescue mission ended. the top public school. Denis flew out to join the search and Mark was eventually spotted from the air 30 miles off course.” Chip off the old block? When asked if she had called Lady Thatcher with news of her victory. “Hello. Mark’s response on seeing Denis was.
a very rich suburb of Cape Town. Michael (born 1989) and Amanda Margaret (born 1993). an equally rich suburb of Dallas. After his arrest in South Africa and now armed with a criminal record. 179 . ŪŪ “At dinner parties he would be rude to me in front of other people as though he was trying to show who was boss”. The result was a 391 page book outlining every episode from the arms deals in the Middle East to construction contracts in the Gulf to the coup in Equatorial Guinea.000 and received a four-year suspended sentence. he was refused entry back to the US and went home to mom in London. and to show him Christian humility does not include being his personal doormat”. Texas. paid a fine of $500. where he was representing the Lotus car company. ŪŪ Mark called his mother “Prime Minister” even in private.” He was finally arrested August 25. decided to catalogue all of his business deals and attempts at a career.23. Mark eventually made a deal. Divorce soon followed and Lady Thatcher (Diane. 2004 in Constantia. he’d look back at me impatiently”. two investigative journalists from the UK. ŪŪ “I want closure with Mark Thatcher. They had two children. He was bailed and put under house arrest while his wife and children returned home to Highland Park. He was charged with contravening two sections of the RSA’s Foreign Military Assistance Act. ŪŪ Despite all the scandals he is still his mom’s “blue-eyed boy”. Specifically he was thought to have funded the purchase of a helicopter to be used in a military coup in Equatorial Guinea. Texas. By this time Mark Thatcher’s dealings had become so newsworthy that Mark Hollingsworth and Paul Halloran. ŪŪ “If I was struggling with bags at an airport. Michael will one day be the 3rd Thatcher Baronet. They moved to the Republic of South Africa (RSA) in 1995 “because of allegations against Mark Thatcher of racketeering that resulted in an $8 million civil action. Family In 1987 he married the car dealership heiress Diane Burgdorf in Dallas. not Margaret) gave some interesting insights to British press: ŪŪ Mark has a short attention span and does not “think straight”.
pressed them and folded them neatly in little plastic bags for traveling”. secretly tailing him to a hotel in Santa Monica. eleven months after divorcing his first wife. Sounds to me like the two Lady Thatchers have a lot in common! There is in fact now a third Lady Thatcher as in late March 2008 Sir Mark married Sarah Russell. sister of Viscountess Rothermere.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady ŪŪ When Mark and Diane visited and stayed at 10 Downing Street in 1987. and finally ŪŪ “I don’t think Mark ever left his mum. his mom “hand washed all of Mark’s shirts. 180 .” One wonders how Baroness (Margaret) Thatcher got on with her forthright now ex-daughter in law Lady (Diane) Thatcher. After all. ŪŪ “Mark used to refer to moments like that as ‘little spurts of mothering’. A week earlier the government of Equatorial Guinea had issued an international warrant for Mark’s arrest. the latter hired a private detective to uncover one of Mark’s extramarital affairs and another time did the job herself. California and confronting him and his latest lover. Her opinion matters more than mine and he enjoyed her company more that mine.
her great domestic ally Sir Keith Joseph Bt. You don’t compromise on the things that matter. The three who dominated are her father Alf Roberts. Sir Alan Walters and Lord (Ralph) Harris of High Cross. “He taught me that you first sort out what you believe in.” Other than Denis three men dominated Margaret Thatcher’s life and three others deserve a gold-plated mention too.” “I am sure that he never imagined that I would eventually become Prime Minister.” Alf (as we saw in earlier chapters) was extraordinarily important. The Rotary motto ‘Service above Self’ was engraved on his heart. He would have wanted these things for me because politics was so much a part of his life and because I was so much his daughter. He was the one who taught her the importance of integrity. and I very rarely change it. Alf “My father was a Rotarian.” 181 . The three who deserve the gold-plated mention are Sir Alfred Sherman. Men “I usually make up my mind about a man in ten seconds. and her great overseas ally President Ronald Reagan. You then apply it. He was the foundation on which she built: “I owe almost everything to my father” she once said.24.
While she later credited F. Sir Samuel Joseph. Hayek.A. In 1975 he famously said “it was only in April 1974 that I was converted to Conservatism. one of the biggest construction companies in the country. You had to stick at it and see it through to the end. Bovis. or achieve what I did as Prime Minister. they suffered in Cabinet together from 1970 to 1974. Keith had grown up in comfort as father. and when that was not possible. I had thought I was a Conservative but I now see that I was not really one at all. Alf taught her tenacity too. without Keith. you saved. she sure learned a great deal in her dad’s small business.” And indeed many of those homilies or parables came from Alf as they ate breakfast. Keith “I could not have become Leader of the Opposition. headed the family firm. he asked her to help set up the Centre for Policy Studies. But I do not repent.” Thatcher’s career was deeply entwined with that of Sir Keith Joseph Bt. His father also served for a time as the Lord Mayor of London.” 182 . and you acted on principle. she wanted him to run against Heath.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady Daily through his work in the shop he showed her by example how important the customer was in a market economy. And he then served in her cabinet as Secretary of State for Industry from 1979 to 1981 and as Secretary of State for Education and Science from 1981 to 1986. lunch. They came together over her Private Member’s Bill. a baronet. It was not good enough just to start something. Milton Friedman and Lord (Ralph) Harris for her economic theory. high tea and supper together above the shop every single day. Joseph was undoubtedly Margaret Thatcher’s closest political friend and ally. You worked hard. he supported her. you did your duty wherever it may lie. In 1982 she said: “Some say I preach merely the homilies of housekeeping or the parables of the parlor. But he was by no means an easy man and in dealing with him you always felt on tenterhooks. Those parables would have saved many a financier from failure and many a country from crisis. you were self-reliant.
but. He was a modest man. but in this case appropriate word) “brilliant”. yet he never indulged in intellectual virtuosity.” he visited virtually every university in the UK preaching the gospel of the free market. There was a famous photo of him walking along a college corridor. Given the nickname “The Mad Monk. unlike so many modest men. reading a copy of the newspaper Socialist Worker. It remains the foundation for any successful Conservative programme of government. Lady Thatcher summed Keith up as follows: “Keith Joseph had the charm of a hundred paradoxes. Its mission was to develop a new free-market conservatism. attracting crowds of many hundreds and almost as many eggs and vegetables. particularly those he saw living in deprived. Many jokes would be made … about the way in which he changed his mind and reversed policies on matters ranging from housing to social benefits. A clever Conservative Central Office publicist had a poster made up using this photo and captioned it: “He reads Socialist Worker — Trots throw eggs. British life.” Joseph turned out to be a very timid member of Prime Minister Thatcher’s Cabinet and it is hard to credit him with any of the great reforms of the 1980s. surrounded by police officers. His suit was splattered with eggs that were literally running down his body.” It was a very powerful and effective statement on many levels. But in the 1970s he was extraordinarily courageous in taking his and her new brand of conservatism on to campus. But the common thread was the relentless search for the right answer to the practical problems of human suffering. and the life of the English-speaking peoples what they were. stunted. Men His Damascene moment led him to set up the Centre for Policy Studies in which Mrs. This was the foundation of our Conservative revolution. He was (that overworked.24. Thatcher cooperated fully. unfulfilled lives. he had really nothing to be modest about. yet by nature he was timid. He was brave. As she noted: “Keith had gone into politics for the same reason as many on the left had done — he wanted to improve the lot of ordinary people.” She later added: “We were seeking to re-establish an understanding of the fundamental truths which had made Western life.” 183 . Not one.
on your victory in the presidential election? Remembering our meeting in London in 1978. I look forward to working closely with you and with your colleagues in your new Administration. his last official act. “one of the greatest men of our time. was to write a letter of thanks to Prime Minister Thatcher on January 11.” 1 At the suggestion of Justin Dart (as in Walgreens).” It is said that they spent more time together than any other post World War II US and UK leaders except possibly Churchill and Franklin D. I look forward to an early opportunity of discussing with you the urgent problems which we all face. Roosevelt. I hope you already know that you will receive the warmest welcome from both the Government and the people of this country when you can find an opportunity to visit Britain. It was based on many things but above all it was a common understanding of the “evil empire” and a common belief in the free-market economy. You will be assuming the presidency at a time when the close friendship between our two countries can. 1989. And on Reagan being elected as the US President she sent him a letter of congratulations saying: “May I send you my warmest congratulations. They became so close that the very last thing President Reagan did as President.” He won the Cold War “without firing a shot…not without a little help from his friends. They first met in 19751 at the House of Commons and then again in 1978 but she had had her eye on him since the late 1960s when Denis returned to their home “full of praise” for a speech Reagan had just given at the Institute of Directors2. Both meetings went superbly well and they were the foundation of a very special meeting of minds and close relationship.” It is also claimed he made her feel very feminine. 184 . and those of my colleagues in the British Government.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady Ronald “One of the greatest men of our time. I believe. And early in their relationship he said that their friendship made the “special relationship stronger than ever. but the quality of the time is as important if not more so than the quantity and there was a rare magic to the ThatcherReagan relationship. which I hope will be soon.” And then there was Ronald Reagan. They knew in their hearts that the former was doomed and that the latter was the only road ahead. 2 Margaret was so struck by Denis’s enthusiasm that she obtained a copy of Reagan’s speech. play a crucial role in strengthening cooperation within the alliance.
Against great opposition at home. He had firm principles — and. he was not baffled. and the IRA. a great American. He knew almost instinctively what to do. he acted upon them decisively.24. For President Reagan’s funeral on June 11.” “Ronald Reagan knew his own mind. were never simplistic. he warned that the Soviet Union had an insatiable drive for military power and territorial expansion. 185 . When the world threw problems at the White House. right ones. It starts as follows: “We have lost a great president.” She noted that. I believe. He had also had a grace of a deeper kind and he had inspired America to rediscover its belief in freedom. his speech writers knew what to say and what to omit. Communism. and a great man. The US invasion of the former British colony of Grenada (he did not warn her) strained matters but she was soon risking the anger of the far Left. military equipment.” Yes. Under his leadership a moribund economy became one of opportunity and growth. And I have lost a dear friend. but he also sensed it was being eaten away by systemic failures impossible to reform. Men The strength of the relationship was first tested in 1982 when the President supported the Prime Minister on the Falklands War.” She noted how “cheerful” and “invigorating” it had been to be with him. and intelligence information to the British government. “he won the Cold War. he imposed economic sanctions on Argentina and his administration provided missiles. in order for Lady Thatcher to pay tribute and stick to doctors’ orders. He expounded them clearly. “His resolve was firm and unyielding…Yet his ideas. But his task had been “daunting” as his goal had been “to mend…. by letting him use US bases in England to bomb Libya. Whereas others had looked for accommodation with the USSR. she pre-recorded her tribute.” She remarked on his “lightness of spirit” and the purpose of his humor. or disorientated. 2004 at the National Cathedral in Washington DC. aircraft fuel. or overwhelmed. though clear. He saw the many sides of truth. like her.
That cloud has now lifted. 1 Tito was the first Prime Minister of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia 1945–53 and its second President 1953–80. He grew up with rickets. He is himself again — more himself than at any time on this earth. And when one did emerge Ron stepped forward and shook his hand. in Budapest.” She finished the taped speech: “For the final years of his life. I like to think — in the words of Bunyan — that ‘all the trumpets sounded on the other side. 186 . in Kiev and in Moscow itself — the world mourns the passing of the Great Liberator and echoes his prayer “God Bless America”. and then became a communist machine gunner for the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War.’ We here still move in twilight.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady While denouncing the “evil” empire.” Alfred “97% of what he wrote was beyond the pale. We have his example.” Alfred (later Sir Alfred) Sherman was as unlikely a person to advise a future Conservative leader as ever lived. But we have one beacon to guide us that Ronald Reagan never had. 3% was pure gold. And so today the world — in Prague. in grinding poverty. in Sofia. He served in the British Army in World War II and then enrolled at the London School of Economics. Let us give thanks today for a life that achieved so much for all of God’s children. “Nothing was more typical of Ronald Reagan than that large-hearted magnanimity — and nothing was more American. He was best known for organizing the anti-fascist resistance movement and fighting Soviet influence. he wished men of goodwill might emerge. Ronnie’s mind was clouded by illness. he lifted up the world. And as the last journey of this faithful pilgrim took him beyond the sunset. in Bucharest.” Ron and the American people “loved America and what it stands for — freedom and opportunity for ordinary people.” “He was able to say ‘God Bless America’ with equal fervor in public and in private. and as heaven’s morning broke. For we may be sure that the Big Fella Upstairs never forgets those who remember Him. He was expelled from the Communist Party for “Titoist1 deviationism” and through a career as a journalist moved to a free-market position.” She went on: “With the lever of American patriotism. in Warsaw.
This was a rather bold move by her. Alfred Sherman only ever upbraided. Mrs. Heath would still be leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition. Sherman also hosted a curious weekly breakfast conspiracy with Enoch Powell and Keith Joseph in a humble café near Victoria Station. to bring back in an official role a person that the last Tory 187 .” Sir Alan Walters was throughout the Thatcher era one of her most trusted and senior advisers. but remained a ‘friend of the family’ throughout her time as Prime Minister. Alan “You know what you can do best. Keith Joseph always said he left politically chastened by the logic and with mild indigestion from the greasy food even though all he ate was a piece of toast.24. Alan served as her personal economic adviser from 1981–1984 and again in 1989. He wrote many of Keith’s speeches and did much to stimulate Margaret Thatcher’s thinking. Thatcher admired him and it was said that while 97% of what he wrote was beyond the pale 3% was pure gold. Courtiers flatter. Men becoming one of the co-founders of the Centre for Policy Studies with Keith Joseph and Margaret Thatcher. Sir Alfred was a welcome exception.” He was an utterly irascible man — very difficult indeed and by 1984 he was sacked. As Powell sat then as an Ulster Unionist. Powell would be invited to concur with the Sherman thesis that the Conservatives were being over cautious or over timid. and you know what needs doing. When asked in 1987 if Sherman still had the Prime Minister’s ear the then Conservative Party Chairman Norman Tebbit replied. not as a Tory. British politics is mostly inhabited by the smooth and the mannerly. He did so invariably. All of this was designed to bolster Keith’s will and it probably did embolden him to encourage Prime Minister Thatcher on the major privatizations. this was an oddity.” He was brilliant but difficult. Alfred Sherman was probably of greater influence in the Opposition years but he acted as a sort of conscience for her when she was Prime Minister. Keith described him as the “hair shirt” of the Conservative Party while he (Sherman) claims that he “invented Margaret Thatcher” and without him “Mr. Mr. “Not if she sees him coming he doesn’t.
Despite Alan’s resignation even after she asked him to stay on. It caused the resignation of both Lawson and Alan. Alan was in many ways the most important advisor she had in Downing Street.” Undoubtedly what Alan is most remembered for publicly these days (despite his part in the 1981 Budget) is for the bust up he and Prime Minister Thatcher had with Geoffrey Howe and Nigel Lawson.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady Prime Minister Ted Heath had fired after daring to contradict the advice of Heath’s other advisors over the rapid expansion of the money supply. At first Alan had doubts about Prime Minister Thatcher. 188 . such as suspending and later abolishing exchange rate controls. Both Howe and Lawson pressured her to take the UK into the ERM. but the row continued leading Prime Minister Thatcher to state publicly “Advisors advise. he goes or I go. She simply replied: “You know what you can do best. This of course was not true at all. While ministers would tell her what was popular Alan would simply tell her what was right. However the battle over the ERM was not without its casualties. But his mind was soon changed. She made it clear to Lawson that Alan was no threat and that he would stay. It was the intercession of Keith and Alfred that brought Alan back to Downing Street after his bad experiences with Heath. Ministers decide. Lawson was convinced that Alan was undermining his position as Chancellor. Thatcher an ultimatum. she was still fond of him. She used the same rhetoric as Heath did in the early days and Alan was worried that the results would be the same. simply by speaking to her he saw her conviction and her willingness to do what was right which shone through in her actions. In fact it was only thanks to Alan’s sound economic advice that she managed to hold off the onslaught of Europhile guff from two of her leading ministers for so long. so Lawson promptly resigned.” This was not enough for Lawson who offered Mrs. Without his advice it is doubtful whether the UK would have the strong economy it enjoys today. The high esteem in which Alan was held by Prime Minister Thatcher is clearly evidenced when he asked her for his terms of reference. Alan then in the same afternoon also resigned as he felt the government “needed a clean slate” in order to go on governing effectively. and you know what needs doing.
Men Alan was a remarkable man. there was Ralph Harris. he became the first. “Well. the dividing line between a white collar career and a blue collar one. His Dad was an active communist. After two years in the military. 14) Alan’s brother was drafted. at the end of World War II. About the age he should have been leaving school (say. He studied economics at Cambridge immediately post World War II but fell under the spell of Dennis Robertson and Stanley Dennison both free-market men rather than Joan Robinson and the Keynesians.” came the reply. He went to his boss and begged him to employ their long-term unemployed communist dad so Alan could stay on at school and matriculate. He then worked for the Conservative Party. albeit part time.24. Ralph “It is primarily your foundation work which enabled us to rebuild the philosophy upon which our Party succeeded. Lord Harris of High Cross. but a teacher in his secondary modern school saw real talent and encouraged him. Finally. hired by Antony Fisher. Both came from modest backgrounds in the deeply provincial East Midlands.” he said.” —Margaret Thatcher to Lord Harris. “No — everything I knew has been drilled out of me. Andrews University and wrote leaders for the Glasgow Herald before heading south back to London.” was the answer. 189 . lectured at St. the dad was hired and Alan got his diploma. In January 1957. Alan went back to his mentor. Alan enrolled locally to do an external degree from London University and became the first external student ever (and possibly since) to garner the highest grades of all the students. “I think I want to become a teacher. It was the first time any external student had topped all the internal ones. “Do you know anything about anything?” his former teacher replied. Both were natural fighters. There was a natural affinity between Alan and the Prime Minister. North London. but perhaps most fundamentally. The boss agreed. employee of the newly created Institute of Economic Affairs. Ralph came from a modest working class home in Tottenham. Alan failed the British 11+ exam. in that case you had better study economics as it starts from the basis of no prior knowledge.
What was not so public was that between 1974 and 1979 Margaret Thatcher attended many IEA events and read its monographs. Ralph Harris had a charm and geniality that beguiled her.’ ” There were many other important men in her life — she only ever promoted one woman to Cabinet. Indeed. Alan and Ralph. You must start with beliefs. always with beliefs. at the Institute for Economic Affairs.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady Twenty two years later Mrs. with the Centre for Policy Studies. and Lord Harris. Ralph in turn helped her with speeches and the CPS with its development. starting in 1955 the IEA had long made the case for free market. She later had her PPS sound out Ralph on becoming a Minister but he refused and sat resolutely as a crossbencher as in an independent.” Another was to ask that Ralph be made a member of the House of Lords as soon as possible. Yes.” And later the authors recount her closing words thus: “At the top of the stairs. ‘That’s it. Thatcher entered Downing Street. 190 . 1 Baroness Young served Margaret not as head of any great department but from 1981–1983 as Leader of the House of Lords.’ She paused. private property and the rule of law. Alfred. She had a long list of urgent tasks ahead of her. He was amusing and not in awe of her. Baroness Young1 — but these six were pivotal: Alf. she stopped to reflect on the morning’s discussion. Ronald. He made classical liberal economic ideas fun as well as simple. That was all public. Yes. Keith. it started with ideas. As Lady Thatcher she later commented on the PBS series Commanding Heights “It is primarily your foundation work which enabled us to rebuild the philosophy upon which our Party succeeded. At first they — the authors and staff — were outcasts but gradually they attracted a following and by the mid 1970s they were clearly impacting opinion. Who in the 1970s would have anticipated the degree of change? ‘It started with Sir Keith and me. One of the first was to write to Fisher saying that the IEA had “created the climate of opinion which made our victory possible. The Thatcherite revolution itself was unexpected. with beliefs.
25. she was the longest serving Prime Minister of that century. we must have one too. 6th Sir Henry CampbellBannerman. 9th David Lloyd George. 14th Arthur Balfour. 20th Neville Chamberlain. 2nd Clement Attlee. and historian Francis Beckett ranks her number one1 “best Prime Minister” of the 20 who served in the 20th century! And in 2005 senior British commentator Charles Moore dubbed her (with no offence to HM the Queen) “the greatest living Englishwoman. 12th Tony Blair. 19th Sir Anthony Eden. 15th Andrew Bonar Law. Her World “As more power is taken away from the people. 18th John Major. she was the only person in the 20th century to win three successive British general elections. 191 .” So what did she stand for? Above all she was a conviction politician. 17th Sir Alec Douglas-Home. As the leftist Tony Benn said on her 80th birthday: 1 The full list goes as follows: 1st Margaret Thatcher. 11th Harold Wilson. 8th Herbert Asquith. 13th James Callaghan. so there is less responsibility for us to assume” “We must have an ideology. 16th Ramsay MacDonald. 4th Sir Winston Churchill. 5th Harold Macmillan. 7th Lord Salisbury. 10th Stanley Baldwin. 3rd Edward Heath. she was voted the 16th greatest Briton ever by the left-leaning BBC. The other side have got an ideology.” She was the first woman leader of a major Western political party.
It is possible to discern how her demeanor evolved over time. She could be impatient.” “Whether before Cabinet or the more effective smaller meetings. Every Prime Minister has their style of working. “I do not know anyone who has got to the top without hard work. That is her authentic voice. Everyone knew what she wanted to do. but it should get you pretty near. She could be sympathetic. It will not always get you to the top. Prime Ministers conventionally defend the Government. She could be imperious. And did it.” she once said. … she did not do anything by deception.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady “Mrs. This can become ponderous. she was plainly in her stride. These were usually the Secretary of State involved in any topic. always did her homework on the subjects for discussion. That is the recipe. Prime Minister Thatcher preferred small meetings of often no more than three or four individuals. She could be kind. It was wry that she would often refer to “The Government” as her enemy. “What Britain needs is an Iron Lady. The British Cabinet is 22 or more individuals. As Prime Minister in 1979 she was slightly in awe at her own office. the junior minister plus a senior civil servant. like you intellectual commentators in the South East.” she remarked. Margaret. She was often abrupt with the leftist intellectuals of the media: “I have no hang ups about my background. When you are actually doing things 192 . who appeared to only need four hours sleep a night. She was no ordinary Prime Minister. The memoirs of her contemporaries map many different characteristics. After the striking victory in the Falklands War followed by the crushing of the miners’ strike. confident of her own abilities and her own instincts. Thatcher said what she meant and meant what she said. It is said her successor John Major consulted everyone much that so very little got decided. almost as though she was about to sit an exam” wrote her Chancellor Nigel Lawson. As Leader of the Party in 1975 she shared everyone’s surprise at her new role. She meant the strange combination of muddling and complacency that is the British state. That is what it got.
They were not the voice of any speechwriter: “My politics are based…. Pennies do not fall from heaven. “It is passionately interesting for me that the things I learned in a small town. The idea of individual responsibility seemed to conflict with their sense that it was through the aggregate power of the people. She could be wonderfully caustic. “Any woman who understands the problems of running a home will be nearer to understanding the problems of running a country. On learning from a majority of her Cabinet that she should not continue as Prime Minister: “Treachery with a smiling face. put a nest egg by for a rainy day. they would equally resonate with the electorate. These were homilies that sometimes invited scoffs from her opponents or from her more snobbish Tory colleagues.” The startling verity was a jolt to those who wanted the great abstraction “Society” to solve problems. Her World you do not have time for hang ups.25.” Also.” This blunt sentiment enraged her enemies.on things I and millions like me were brought up with. pay your bills on time. “No one would remember the Good Samaritan if he had had only good intentions. in a very modest home. support the police. An honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay. are just the things that I believe won the election.” Not only would such sentiments invite the mockery of her metropolitan opponents.” These were characteristic sentiments. live within your means. There was a deep practical streak to her. nationally or locally. Margaret Thatcher spoke truths. He had money as well. They were simple truths but they were of a nature of plain-speaking not heard on Prime Ministerial lips before. She famously remarked: “There is no such thing as Society. There are individual men and women and there are families.” Her intuition and her sentiments proved she was nearer to the people than all her rivals. that most matters should be administered.” 193 . They have to be earned on earth. in other words the state.
Yet it was a miserable failure in every respect. W.” Margaret Thatcher was dismissive of the middling consensus that she thought had impoverished Britain: “No theory of Government was ever given a faster test or a more prolonged experiment in a democratic country than ‘democratic socialism’ received in the United Kingdom. you are not. Of Neil Kinnock.” She was good at amusing put downs. but there is no sympathy in politics.” A repeated theme was her distrust of “wobblers” as she once described an unsure George H. as traitors. Yet this fact never seemed to dent their enthusiasm. I mean it. the Labour Leader. I regard them as Quislings.” Of her predecessor as Tory Leader: “I’ll always be fond of dear old Ted. She could appear more like Adam Smith than Smith himself.” Of Sir Ian later Lord Gilmour of Craigmillar and a noted “Wet”: “Once on the backbenches he was as loyal as he had been in government.” Although all politicians have to compromise her instinct was to remain tenacious. “There are still people in my Party who believe in consensus politics. 194 .Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady “Power is like being a lady…if you have to tell people you are…. as in: “There can be no liberty unless there is economic liberty.” She clearly had memories of the seventies.” she declaimed. she remarked: “As Opposition Leader he was out of his depth. She was exasperated by temporizing moderation: “Almost all the policies hawked about by “practical” men on “pragmatic” grounds turned out in the end to be highly impractical. As Prime Minister he would have been sunk. Bush. “To cure the British disease with socialism was trying to cure leukemia with leeches.” It was only a person brought up in the austerity and rationing of her early life under a Labour Government and then had been a minister in Edward Heath’s frightened and intimidated period in office that could be so impatient with the dithering or timid in power.
Her World One remark that will probably always be linked to her is her phrase at a Party Conference when the opinion polls were adverse and every commentator anticipated a return to reflation. “U turn if you want to: the Lady’s not for Turning.” Although wounded by her loss of the Leadership and her Premiership.” As she remarked to her daughter.” 195 . and especially in Government.25. That is half as long again as any President of the United States. nearly twelve years. in other words reverse her policies and accomplish a U-turn. Prime Minister Thatcher sustained a sense of immense good fortune: “I had the marvelous privilege of being there for eleven and a half.” It was a simple little quip but it signalled her determination to liberalize the economy and not revert to the flawed policies she inherited. the Tory Party merely pitched camp in the long march to the Left. I think my place in history is assured. She expressed it with a vivid metaphor: “In the fine print of policy. “Carol.
ŪŪ She made Brits walk tall again with a principled. ŪŪ She transformed the nation’s view of the benefits of a market economy. 197 . She was the longest serving Prime Minister of the 20th century and so had 11½ years to get the job done. firm and robust approach to foreign relations. ŪŪ She privatized the commanding heights of the economy thus transforming their fortunes and starting a worldwide movement. ŪŪ She enfranchised millions of former local authority serfs through the right to buy public housing. Ten Lessons “We must never be prepared simply to accept the “received wisdom” of those who claim to be wiser. And by returning to our basic principles and beliefs. Every one of us can make a difference.26. ŪŪ She taught us the need for monetary continence if we wish to enjoy low inflation. brought it back under the rule of law and gave it back to its members. we can find new ways to revivify our policies and to forge a brighter future for ourselves and for our children.” Lady Thatcher’s legacy is far reaching. But what a job: ŪŪ She took on the whole union movement.
if they want to stay in the wigwam.” It wasn’t the bossiness of the cartoons so much as total conviction. or Mr. ŪŪ Increase educational standards. What will the next Mrs. ŪŪ Bring crime down. ŪŪ Reform the National Health Service. ŪŪ Reduce welfare rolls. although difficult. ŪŪ And she ensured that all future British governments have to be much friendlier to laissez-faire capitalism than had been the case prior to 1979. ŪŪ Renegotiate with the EU. you know this is right. And it built teamwork. three decades after she came to power and two decades after she left.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady ŪŪ She started the process which has now led to peace in Northern Ireland. consistent principles then all the little Indians know exactly what to do…. If the chief has a set of clear.” An early example came in April 1980 just a year after she entered Downing Street. ŪŪ Simplify and reduce taxation. Thatcher have to do to rival her record? How about this list: ŪŪ Deregulate and stop the tsunami of new legislation. And as she once said “disciplining yourself to do what you know is right and important. A group of six Iranian ter198 . selfesteem. the only question is how we do it. A future Prime Minister who did that would deserve to have Margaret Thatcher’s reputation. Today. ŪŪ She helped Ronald Reagan tear down that wall without a shot and destroy the evil empire. well articulated. and ŪŪ Balance the books. and personal satisfaction. She could turn to a room full of powerful men and in effect simply say “I know this is right. it is interesting to speculate. So let me try to summarize ten key strategic lessons I have identified from Margaret Thatcher: (1) Above all Margaret Thatcher had a very strong personal political and moral compass. is the highroad to pride.
“Go in” commanded the Prime Minister and on prime time TV the nation watched live as the men of the SAS abseiled down to the windows on the front of the building. Prime Minister Thatcher demanded the defeat of the terrorists and brought in the crack special forces men from the Special Air Service (SAS). the nonsense. chucking percussion grenades in ahead of them. The terrorists demanded the release of political prisoners in Iran. People are being cruel when they say she never had a single original idea herself. simplify it and communicate it. the fancy embellishments and get right to the heart of the matter. The result was that five out of six terrorists were killed and 19 out of 20 hostages saved. there were no police or SAS officer casualties. The whole affair dragged on for nearly a week when the terrorists suddenly shot a hostage and threw the body out of the front door. They undervalue her ability to synthesize. (3) She did lead and she expected and got a lot out of those around her. yet she also listened. 199 . He was running. Soon after the 1987 general election a newly-elected Tory MP was walking through the members’ lobby in the House of Commons when he suddenly observed an old friend.26. literally running. Good short Anglo Saxon words or as Margaret Thatcher once said to my friend Simon Jenkins: “Laissez Faire? Laissez Faire? Don’t go French on me!” She is a very clever person — she studied chemistry and was a chemist in industry before studying law and practicing at the tax and patent bars. I always think of her and Newt Gingrich together in one sense namely they neither of them were “At this moment in time” types but rather “now” types. As books about her are coming out one thing is common to all of them namely this ability of hers to simplify and communicate clearly and with conviction. But as well as being clever she had this knack of simplifying and communicating. The old friend had been elected in 1983 and was now a junior minister. (2) She was able to cut through the guff. Ten Lessons rorists stormed the Iranian Embassy in central London and a siege ensued with 26 hostages. of getting to the heart of the matter and expressing it in simple words that made sense and resonated.
The story goes that in 1989 her cabinet and senior staff held a private dinner on the 10th anniversary of her becoming prime minister. Prime Minister. She did listen mostly to Cabinet Ministers and not all the best ideas came from her “right” wing colleagues as in the sale of public housing which came very much from those to her left such as Peter Walker and Michael Heseltine. “Slow down. Prime Minister. please. what kind of steak? Sirloin. T: Waiter: Mrs. Prime Minister. they’ll all have steak too! That was the perception. “Rome wasn’t built in a day. please. And she was not always the hard driving freemarket radical portrayed so often today. Prime Minister.” cried the young minister over his shoulder. would you like an appetizer? Prawn Cocktail. how do you like your steak? Rare. The next is 100% apocryphal but instructive nonetheless. please. in reality she was a better listener than usually given credit for. for your main course? A steak. T: Prime Minister.” That is a true story. some potatoes? Roasted. T: Waiter: Mrs. She worried about abolishing exchange controls. “Yes.” called the new MP. “But Margaret wasn’t the foreman on that job. T: Waiter: Mrs. in this case based on a Spitting Image TV cartoon.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady His hair was disheveled and he was carrying not only his briefcase and a box but also a full tray of papers. please. Prime Minister. please. A waiter enters and heads to Margaret Thatcher. she was not sure about public housing sales at deep 200 . T: Waiter: Mrs. T: Waiter: Mrs. Waiter: Mrs.” he added. At the Café Royal Margaret Thatcher sat at the head of the table with say 20 men in suits down each side. what about the vegetables? Oh.
This gave all sitting tenants a 33% discount plus an extra 1% discount for every year of paying rent up to a maximum of 50% off fair market value.” she replied — “people will not value it unless they pay something for it. I said. We conservatives are returning power to the people. I was in my element.26. Each one was different but to stymie opposition and generate positive feelings overall they included: ŪŪ Offers of free shares ŪŪ Matching programs — buy one get one free ŪŪ Programs that reserved a certain percent of the float for staff and pensioners ŪŪ Discounts 201 . Laid back generalists from the foreign office — let alone the ministerial muddlers in charge of them — could not be relied upon. This was one of those areas in which only a firm grasp of the scientific concepts involved allows the right policy decisions to be made. By contrast.” A couple of years later she launched the right to buy. Just mail them the deeds. All of the great privatizations included special staff deals — hence the disproportionate boost among union members. and some privatizations unnerved her a little. Home ownership soared as nearly 3 million units changed hands under this scheme. Ten Lessons discounts feeling those already on the housing ladder might rebel. As noted earlier general public ownership of shares went from 7% to 23% while ownership by trade union members went from 6% to 29%.” Take public housing.” (4) She championed policies that went with rather than against the grain of human nature. “No. Likewise with privatization where the shares were very widely spread and quickly appreciated. In the late ’70s I told her to give it all away to the sitting tenants. Another aspect of her view of leadership is revealed in this quote: “I kept tight personal control over decisions relating to the strategic defense initiative and our reaction to it. She once said “popular capitalism is nothing less than a crusade to enfranchise the many in the economic life of the nation.… I was also passionately interested in the technical developments and strategic implications.
But the Tories were becoming infected with ideas and intellectuals. showing how much fat there was in industry. “standing in the middle 202 . committed people to draw on. Meanwhile intellectuals from industry (John Hoskyns) and academia (Alan Walters). and young men from the universities such as Peter Lilley. David Davis and Michael Portillo — were changing the Conservative party. (5) There was a lot of strategic thinking well ahead of time. take the suspension of exchange controls. Employee response ranged from 19% to 99% and is highly correlated to the generosity of the proposed deal as one might expect. (6) She had a lot of very smart. overall production did not fall. so he just did it. As she herself said.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady ŪŪ Incentives to keep shares long term and ŪŪ No limits on the number of preferential shares that could be bought — once only in that case. spotted that he did not need Parliament’s approval. John Redwood. Lord Donoghue used to remark in his LSE lectures that the Tory party is “the stupid party. Prime Minister Thatcher built up coal reserves to very high levels before she took on the miners. A party that in the post-war years had accepted Butskellism and middle-of-the-road socialism as inevitable had found its intellectual feet under Mrs. Or. Thatcher.” There was some truth to this — some. the Chancellor. dedicated. There was only enough coal for industry to operate a 3-day week. ideas from the IEA such as: ŪŪ Markets work — governments fail ŪŪ Labour market reform ŪŪ Privatization and ŪŪ The conquering of inflation. Guided by an IEA monograph Geoffrey Howe. Strangely. to some. Michael Forsyth. Ted Heath in his winter confrontation with the miners in 1973–74 had been forced into a corner by lack of coal reserves.
if ‘lives must be lost.” It appears she had extraordinary foresight. If we serve the idea faithfully. Bill Dunn seemed to express the spirit of January 1979 when he said. inflation. saying: “There can have been few in Britain who did not feel. Either we got it done now or we became. exchange controls. “We believe in the democratic way of life. In this regard. with tenacity of purpose. And the economics profession was nearly 100% against her. say. Margaret Thatcher used her 3 to 4 years in opposition to prepare for government. The winter of 78/79 had been awful. Some people still believed the future lay with communism. that our society was sick — morally. of the ambulance men’s pay demands. There were mountains of trash — the dead were not being buried. contracting out and Enter- 203 . The nation was in need of a major turnaround — just what she provided with her leadership. (9) Preparation — Politicians in power are too busy to think and they are surrounded by bureaucrats and pestered by those with vested interests. Ten Lessons of the road is very dangerous. It was very special indeed. see John Hoskyns’ Just In Time and see Richard Cockett’s Thinking the Unthinkable. Trade Union leader Mr. (8) We must not forget Ronald Reagan and their partnership. the Right To Buy public housing. we have nothing to fear from Russian communism.” (7) There was a very strong sense of being in the last chance saloon. you get knocked down by the traffic from both sides. privatization. Mrs. an Argentina — a formerly prosperous country turned basket case. Thatcher herself recognized this. Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher instinctively felt that was wrong and evil.’” There were strikes galore.26. that is the way it must be. socially and economically. Ideas regarding labor markets. much more so than that of Bush and Blair. As early as 1950 she said. some still believed Soviet statistics. with mounting alarm.
Simplify and communicate 3. And she made it quite clear to her research and support staff what she believed in. Make good allies 9. Every year advances were made on privatization and bit by bit a momentum was established. Prepare before you are in power and 10. For example in the 1980 Employment Act she: ŪŪ Abolished statutory recognition procedure ŪŪ Extended the right to refuse to join a union ŪŪ And limited picketing Then in the 1982 Employment Act she: ŪŪ Prohibited action to force contracts with union employees ŪŪ Weakened the closed shop ŪŪ Removed some union immunities In the 1984 Employment Act she: ŪŪ Weakened union immunities ŪŪ Required pre strike balloting of union members ŪŪ Strengthened employers power to get injunctions Finally in the 1988 Employment Act she: ŪŪ Removed further union immunities ŪŪ Extended the right of the individual to work against a union So the lessons are: 1. Every year the unions were slowly but surely brought back under the rule of law. (10) She did not try to do it all at once. Develop policies that go with the grain 5. particularly on labor market reforms and privatization. She tackled problems one slice at a time. Lead but always listen 4. Have patience 204 . Use circumstances 8. Build good teams 7. Think through your strategy ahead of time 6. Have a strong compass 2.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady prise Zones were all well discussed before 1979.
Ten Lessons In conclusion. ŪŪ China going capitalist. where some young men and women are making surprisingly Thatcherite political points. the Thatcher era 1979–97 (she went in 1990 but there was no Major era) is an extraordinary story of change. and ŪŪ reforms in central and eastern Europe. On the international scene there were several positive devel opments: ŪŪ the worldwide spread of privatization. Margaret Thatcher’s influence is everywhere. And my institute. And we must not overlook as mentioned earlier her impact on her opponents particularly New Labour which abandoned Clause 4 namely its commitment to public ownership and today also the Liberal Democrats. of a country saving itself in a turbulent world.26. the IEA. is very proud of the small part we played in her education! 205 .
The IEA’s distinguished contributor Sir Alan Peacock chaired a committee into its public funding but concluded little could be altered. It would be more accurate to call it the nationalized death service. It has changed its defenses from a mercantilist hostility to timber product importation. Britain’s huge broadcasting public corporation. The Royal Mail remains a loss making state corporation but it has forfeited its monopoly of letter traffic. Chancellor Nigel Lawson described the NHS as “The nearest the British have to a religion. Now it purports to be protecting wild life. Competition is emerging slowly. ŪŪ Some nationalized industries endure.Postscript: What Remains to be Done What we may still call the Thatcher agenda includes many institutions yet to be opened up by choice and free market ideas. cable and now digital techniques erode its monopolist assumptions. Technology is dissolving the BBC’s status as satellite. inhibited all attempts to reform it. ŪŪ The Forestry Commission. a state timber venture set up in World War I seems untouchable by political reform.” Politicians delight in reforming the managerial structures of the NHS but block any consumer choice or any relaxation of the restrictive practices of the clinical professions. ŪŪ The BBC. 207 . ŪŪ The greatest arm of the British state is the National Health Service measured either by its employee rolls or by its budget.
ŪŪ Despite the many liberalizations the proportion of the British GDP absorbed by the state continues to rise. She saved Britain. Efforts to promote voluntary philanthropy such as friendly societies have yet to prove successful. Nominally autonomous colleges have to comply with detailed interventions from London. ŪŪ Income taxes are supplemented by National Insurance which is little more than a tax on employment. Politics needs leadership and courage. ŪŪ The British social security system offers diverse benefits. They must comply or lose their funding. all of UK higher education is funded by the state. but the forces of bureaucracy and meddling continue to flourish. The challenge of politics is without end. Both its recipient dependents and its employee numbers seem to grow regardless of political party. Attempts to create parental choice and diversity have been blocked by the producer groups that hold it captive. 208 . She was unique. Margaret Thatcher defeated the dragons she set out to slay. She altered world history. BPP. ŪŪ Both the level and complexity of British taxation bamboozles even the experts. ŪŪ With the exception of the University of Buckingham and a forprofit university. VAT is levied as a condition of being an EU member state. I doubt we will ever see a person of such tenacity and commitment as Margaret Thatcher.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady ŪŪ 94% of British school pupils attend institutions run by the state through the intermediary agency of local authorities.
697 80.464 Conservative majority of 11.302 7.968 75.616 69.614 25.878 Conservative majority of 9.408 15.314 Conservative majority of 8.30% 1974 Finchley 12.911 Conservative majority of 7.498 69.504 13.46% 1979 Finchley 13.638 Labour majority of 12.763 19.070 23.Postscript: What Remains to be Done Appendix I.18% 1966 Finchley 14.40% * Strict comparisons are not possible because of the constituency boundary changes 209 .789 24.51% 85.334 Conservative Winning Party and Majority Year 1945 1950 1951 1955 1959 Labour Liberal Turnout 1964 Finchley 12.978 Conservative majority of 3.802 Conservative majority of 9.254 20.603 69.33% 1970 Finchley 14.580 21.587 7.81% 1983 Finchley 10.73% 1974 Finchley 12.295 7.480 65.180 77.221 18.913 38.05% 1987 1992 Finchley Did Not Fight 12.260 Conservative majority of 8.128 40.22% Labour majority of 13. Table of Margaret Thatcher’s Elections* Constituency Did Not Fight Dartford Dartford Did Not Fight Finchley 13.690 5.040 5.490 27.437 12.918 71.78% Conservative majority of 16.185 Conservative majority of 5.591 78.384 16.011 N/A 24.760 85.094 5.701 29.202 11.
General Election results from 1945 -2005 Year 05-Jul-45 23-Feb-50 25-Oct-51 26-May-55 08-Oct-59 15-Oct-64 31-Mar-66 18-Jun-70 28-Feb-74 10-Oct-74 03-May-79 09-Jun-83 11-Jun-87 09-Apr-92 01-May-97 07-Jun-01 05-May-05 Lab 393 315 295 277 258 317 364 288 301 319 269 209 229 271 418 413 356 Lib / SDP 12 9 6 6 6 9 12 6 14 13 11 23 22 20 46 52 62 Con 210 298 321 345 365 304 253 330 297 277 339 397 376 336 165 166 198 Other 25 3 3 2 1 0 1 6 23 26 16 21 23 24 30 28 30 No. of Seats 640 625 625 625 630 630 630 630 635 635 635 650 650 651 659 659 646 Winning Party and Majority Labour majority of 146 Labour majority of 5 Conservative majority of 17 Conservative majority of 60 Conservative majority of 100 Labour majority of 4 Labour majority of 98 Conservative majority of 30 Labour majority of -33* Labour majority of 3 Conservative majority of 43 Conservative majority of 144 Conservative majority of 102 Conservative majority of 21 Labour majority of 177 Labour majority of 167 Labour majority of 66 * minority government 210 .Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady Appendix II.
Hollingsworth. Pimlico (2004). HarperCollins (1994). 2 November. Campbell. Robson Books Ltd (1998). Weidenfeld & Nicolson (1988). Iain (Editor) — As I Said to Denis. Russell — Margaret Thatcher: A Personal and Political Biography. O’Sullivan. Simon — Thatcher and Sons: A Revolution in Three Acts. Pimlico (2001). Dale. Dale. John — Margaret Thatcher: Iron Lady Vol. John — The President. Weidenfeld & Nicolson (2005). John — Just In Time: Inside the Thatcher Revolution. the Pope. Aurum Press Ltd (2000) Jenkins.” The Guardian. Harris. Mainstream Publishing (2006) Hoskyns. and the Prime Minister. 1971. Cockett. Kenneth — Thatcher. Mark and Halloran. 2. John — Margaret Thatcher: The Grocer’s Daughter Vol.Further Reading Campbell. Allen Lane (2006).. Richard — Thinking the Unthinkable. Routledge (1984). 211 . Coleman.. Terry — “Margaret Thatcher Interview. 1. Regnery (2006). Lewis.: Margaret Thatcher Book of Quotations. Iain (Editor) — Margaret Thatcher: A Tribute in Words and Pictures. Paul — Thatcher’s Fortunes: The Life and Times of Mark Thatcher.
Nicholas — My Style of Government: The Thatcher Years. Hutchinson (1991). Margaret — The Downing Street Years. Macmillan (2005). Faber and Faber (1982). Geoffrey — The Strange Death of Tory England. HarperCollins (1995). John — Anyone for Denis?. W. Ltd (1992). Watkins. Wapshott. Allen / Virgin Books (1990). No 4. Winter 2003. Daniel and Stanislaw. Wheatcroft. Giles — ‘Her Rather Ambitious Washington Program’: Margaret Thatcher’s International Visitor Program Visit to the United States in 1967. Sentinel (2007).H. Carol — Diary of an Election. Sergeant. Andrew — Margaret Thatcher: The Woman Within. Nicholas — Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher: A Political Marriage. HarperCollins (1996). Sidgwick & Jackson Ltd (1983). John — Maggie: Her Fatal Legacy. 212 . Margaret — The Path to Power. Gerald Duckworth & Co. Wells. Allan — A Conservative Coup: Fall of Margaret Thatcher. Thatcher. Joseph — The Commanding Heights: The New Reality of Economic Power. Carol — Below the Parapet: Biography of Denis Thatcher. Thatcher. Simon & Schuster Ltd (1998). 17.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady Ridley. Thatcher. HarperCollins (1993). Yergin. Penguin Books Ltd (2005). Thatcher. Thomson. Scott-Smith. Contemporary British History. Vol.
Jonathan. Betty. 68 Birch.. 122. Gerry. 136 Beveridge. Sir John. Adolphus. Stanley. 29 Boyson. 191 Boothroyd. 39 Boyd-Carpenter. 13. 29 Benn. 179 Busch. 84 Blair. Jock. 137. 156. 144 Appleby. 194 Bush. 51 Bright. 39 Bush. 191 Atkins. Martin. Francis. Rt. 137. 73 Benn. 42. Anthony. 50 Biffen. 49 Boyle. 26 Asquith. Rupert. 177-178 Andropov. John. 65. Peter. 169. 191 Bandaranaike. Christopher. Sir Robert. 96 Brogan. 27 Bossom. Dowager Baroness. 67. 191 Bendelow. Sirimavo. 61 Berry. 1 Bruce-Gardyne. 97 Burgdorf. George H. Nigel. John. Graham. Colm. 97 Armstrong. 191 Balfour. Clement. Yuri. 116. 65 Branson. 48. Leon. Hon Dr. 194 . Diane. Sir Alfred. Tony. 29. Sir Rhodes. Herbert. 30 Brooke. 156 Brocklebank-Fowler. 133 Attlee.. W. 191 Benn. 8. Kenneth. 86. Edward. 161 Brittan. 13 Brabourne. Lord. 133 Brooke. Thomas. 132 Beckett.Index A Adams. Humphrey. 132 Aitken. 169. 162 Baldwin. 13. Hilary. Arthur. 134. James. 191 B Baker. 26 Armstrong. Anthony Wedgwood (Tony). 68 Buchanan. Sir Humphrey. George W. 11. Sir Richard.
41. 74. 29. 91 Friedman. 86. Michael. 189 Dexter. 138 Fisher. 74. 83 Goodrich. 118. 211 Hare. Dorothy. 194 Gingrich. 27. Robert. 30. 162. 1-2.. 101. 128. Sir Winston. 166. Terry. Gerald. 29 Crowder. 163 George. Sir John. 203. Ian. 124. Bob. Ralph. 144 Gore. 80 Dunn. Joe. David. 1-2. 67 Gow. 182 E Eden. 202 Fraser. Michael. 139 Hague. Richard. William J. Antony. David Lloyd. Charles. Jacques. Al. 133 Galloway. 50 de Valois. Mikhail. 55 Gandhi. 9. 27 Deedes. 123. Sir Ian. 158 Dennison. Newt. Sir Anthony. Marie. Robert. 116-117 Hailsham. Chris. 181-182. 5. 191 Clark. 161 Clarkson. 37-38 Coors. 169 Cockett. Kenneth. Dame Niette. 191 Cameron. Barry. 37 Harris. Neville. Garret. 135 Foot. 26 Halloran. John. 191 Carr. 17. David Hackett. 211 Dart. 170. 191 du Cann. 142 Cook. 13. 176. Iain. Jimmy. Joan. Friedrich August von. 7 Douglas-Home. 167 Haig. Justin. 87. 184 Davis. Stanley. 140 Hall. 211 Collins. George. Gerry. Lord. 163. Sir Henry. 136 D Dale. Lord. 199 Goldwater. 145. Beryl. 211 Cole. 50. 191 214 . 17 Campbell. 14. Alan. Jeremy. Muammar L . 26 Gardiner. 202 Day. 179. 162 Fischer. 81 Fraser. 8 Crosland. 22 Gorbachev. Paul. Margaret. Indira. 211 Harris. Robin. 2. 11. William. 96 Ford. 26 F Fallon. 144 Coleman. 115-116 Carter. 27. 84. 73 G Gaddafi. Col. 163 H HM Queen Elizabeth II. 23 Gilmour. David. 182 Frost. 175 Delors. 191 Chope. 189-190 Hayek. James. Michael. 189 Fitzgerald. Milton. Hugh. David. 94. 163 Churchill. 138 Forsyth. Sir Alec. John. Anthony. 138 Chamberlain. Margaret. 169 Conquest. 191 Gilles. 211 Campbell-Bannerman. 43 Curie. John.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady C Callaghan. Bill. 78 Carrington. 29 de Gaulle. 87. Edward. 73. Al. John.
Arthur. 211 Howard. 26 Jones. 179. Tom. Jack. Reginald.. 96 Mitchell. 174 Hodgkin. 191 Lawson. 211 Horsburgh. 176. 80. 132 McKenzie. Herbert. David. Richard. 121 Maclean. 3 King. 115 Kissinger. John. 71. 59 Hickman. 111 Koestler. 74 McPheeters. Andrew. Robert W. 207 Leigh. 48. 78 Moore. Quentin. 100. 13 Menendez. Sir Samuel. 139 Miller. Golda. 165. Nicholas. 132 215 . Charles. 175 J Jay. Ian. Edward. 13. 29. 161-163. 191-192 Maude. Sir Anthony. 118 Joseph. 107 Morrison. Eric. Ted. 132 I Ingrams. 174 Khalid. 157. Sir Howard. 93 Minford. 63 Hoskyns. 161-162 Mountbatten. Mark. 121. 81 Joliot-Curie. 18 Heffer. 134 Macmillan. 140 Hollingsworth. 84 Maudling. 11. 166 Heffer. Andrew Bonar. 211 Lilley. 56.. 109-110. Bob. 194 Kipling. 169 Lovat. 53. Simon. 156. 87. 202-203. Frank. 133 Kinnock. Frank. 58.. 69. 37. 5. Ronnie. 84. Rudyard. 3. Hon. Dr. 78-83. Sir Antony. Leonard. Jonathan. 166 McGregor. Peter. Muriel. B. 89. John. 133 Lynn. 13. 188.S. Frances L. 191 Morrison. Douglas. 192. 55 McGuinness. 211 Johnson. 191 MacGregor. 162-163. C. 74. 132 McAlpine. 72. 83 Klaus.C. 156 Mill.. Florence. 81 Luce. 30 L Law. Margaret. 202 Lloyd-Webber. 60 Meir. Neil. 166 Knight. Colonel H. Harold. 14. 161. 84. 28. 133. 93. 160. 53. 12. 17. John. 199. 53. Russell. 97 M MacDonald. 66-69. 103. Vaclav. Sir Geoffrey. 84 Maxwell. 84. 146. Irène. 100. Lord. Angus. 181182 Joseph. 21 Kirkpatrick. 134 Major.. 30. Simon. 166. Peter. Sir Keith. Jeane. Paul. 158 Hurd. Richard. Edward (Ted). 72. 57. John Stuart.Index Heath. 174 Kempson. 51. Patrick. Henry. Dorothy Mary Crowfoot. Leila. 119 Meyer. 63. 182 K Kempson. 30 Lewis. Lord. 163 Lewis. 150 Heseltine. 161-163. 82. Martin. 17. Michael. 26 Hogg. 200 Hewett. 42. 8 Jenkins. 168 Knatchbull. 152. Nigel. Mario. 116 Lynch. 122. 17 Howe. 191 Maguire. 68. 19. Ramsay. Lord. 20 Millar. Michael.
181. John. 163 O’Sullivan. Norman.Margaret Thatcher — A Portrait of the Iron Lady Murdoch. Ronald. 22. 84. 80. Bobby. 84. Enoch. Augusto. Sarah. 18 Stewart. 176 Pym. 22. 101. 63. Hellen Artie. 152 Nott. 81-82 Pinochet. 137-138. 125. 152. Giles. 80. 138 North. 198. Amanda Margaret. Eric. Iain Duncan. Michael. 9. 134 Robertson. 202 Powell. 129 Shakespeare. Jim. 42 Taylor. 212 Shah. Milton. 146 Peacock. Karl. Arthur. 114. Sir Isaac. 90. Arthur. 161 Neubert.. 18. 162. John. 181. 161 Sherman. 72. Joseph. 212 Thatcher. Pope John. 202 Reece. Sir Alfred. 189 Roosevelt. Richard. 21 O Olivier. 100 Popper. 39. 11 Shattock. 84 Rees-Mogg. John. 55. John. William. Michael. 115. 121. 203. John. Cecil. 189 Robinson. 68-69. 184-186. 212 Redwood. 129. Beatrice (See Roberts. William. 115. 177 216 . 134 Taylor. 55 Solzhenitsyn. 17 Nixon. 27 Sands. 60 Tarleton. Muriel. 128. Beatrice Stephenson (See Stephenson. 119. 92 Tebbit. James H. 17 Smith. 175 Peyton.. 51 Parker III. John. 180 N Neave. Mary R. 81. Franklin D. 134. William. 30 Portillo. 169. 136. 116-117 R Radcliffe. Sir Laurence. Gordon. Joan.. Cranley. Nicholas. Iain. 89 Stanislaw. 74. 18. 144-146. 162. 6. Bill. Steve. 113. 176 Scott-Smith. Dr. 212 Seldon. 187 Thatcher. 212 Stanley. 169. 110 Stephenson. James. Dennis. Eddie. 61 Parkinson. Michael. 167 Poole. 18 Roberts. Francis. 179 Thatcher. 162. Sir Alan. Dame Cicely. 138 Smith. 115-116 S Sanders. 124 Schulman. 68. 29 Ridley. Alfred (Alf). 133 Savas. 169 Roberts. 212 Roberts. Francis of Assisi. Richard. 20-21. 207 Penry-Jones. Jeanne. 186 Simon. 81. Beatrice). 55. Lord. 80. Beatrice Stephenson). Adam. 84. 162 Thatcher. 101 Scargill. Airey. Rupert. John. 22 St. 162 Paul II. 84 Onslow. Alexander. 131. 134 Shelton. 18 T Taggart. Margaret Chase. 194 Smith. Teddy. 144 Sergeant. 211 P Pardoe. 184 Russell. 142 Sproat. 161 Newton. 48 Reagan. 187 Prior. Bob. Rupert. Sir Denis. Carol.
Caspar. 177 Thorne. Sir Mark. John. 212 Wheatcroft. 22. 62.Index Thatcher. Walt. Sir Robert. 83 Tullock. 175 Thorneycroft. Sir Alan. 27 Weinberger. George. 212 Young.. John. 14 U Utley. William. 26 Willink. 97 Twain. 162 Wakeham. Nicholas. Peter. 27 Younger. 134. 93 Worcester. 60 Washington. Gordon. Nigel. 212 217 . E. 74. 144. 191 Wood. Roberta. Hugo. 181. T. Daniel. 161-162 W Wakeham. 73. 26 Vinson. 84 Townend. 109-110. 116. Harold. Kathleen. 50. 212 Whitelaw. 53. 157 Watkins. Allan. 200 Walters. 163 Trudeau. 71. 156. Henry. 137 Williams. 28 Willink. John B. 18. 175. 74. Cicely Veronica. 81-82 Whitman. 212 Wareham. Angela.. 81 V Vaughan. 187 Wapshott. 48. Dame Janet. Basil. John. Shirley. 67. 51 Yergin. Simone. 170 Wells. 28 Wilson. 121. 72 Y Yamey. Mark. Lord Peter. Pierre. 134 Walker. Rachel. Geoffrey. 173 Wedgwood.
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