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John O'Sullivan: The Two Sides of Margaret Thatcher - Telegraph

John O'Sullivan: The Two Sides of Margaret Thatcher - Telegraph

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Published by Bruno Garschagen
John O'Sullivan: The Two Sides of Margaret Thatcher - Telegraph
John O'Sullivan: The Two Sides of Margaret Thatcher - Telegraph

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Published by: Bruno Garschagen on Nov 25, 2013
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John O'Sullivan: The two sides of Margaret Thatcher - Telegraph

4/15/13 9:34 PM

John O'Sullivan: The two sides of Margaret Thatcher
As Mrs Thatcher's speech-writer, John O'Sullivan got to know both sides of his boss: the stateswoman and the housewife

Margaret Thatcher during the Dartford Election in 1950 Photo: UPPA/Photoshot

12:03PM BST 13 Apr 2013

At the height of her power as prime minister, Mrs Thatcher was an extraordinary combination of towering world-historical figure and ordinary middle-class British housewife. She was Bismarck and Carrie Pooter rolled into one. If you were a visiting statesman negotiating with her, as Mikhail Gorbachev found, she became a formidable opponent, armed with the facts, determined to destroy you in debate. If you were a member of a friendly delegation of mayors or Conservative ladies, she would plump up the cushions, wind down the window, or rearrange the furniture to make you feel comfortable and at home. And if you worked closely with her as an adviser or speech-writer – as I did for several years inside and outside Downing Street – she would do both, sometimes at the same moment. Almost everyone who worked closely with Mrs Thatcher loved her because she treated them with consideration. That is not to say that she treated everyone equally. But she inverted the usual rule of
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a Thatcher speech might go through five drafts. The late Supt Bob Kingston refused promotion after promotion in order to remain part of her protection squad. they’re very nutritious”). That attitude was right and refreshing. Well. no regular civil servant advisers. She was demanding and. Half an hour later I would start work on the dark side as a speech-writer for the Leader of the Conservative Party. took out her frying pan.telegraph. And Mrs Thatcher did not always take into account that even senior advisers might initially be intimidated by her when she was in a cross-examining mood.uk/news/politics/margaret-thatcher/9991833/John-OSullivan-The-two-sides-of-Margaret-Thatcher. Margaret Thatcher was very much a hero to her “valets”. remembering our birthdays. sharp towards ministers and senior civil servants.John O'Sullivan: The two sides of Margaret Thatcher . when a Wren at Chequers stumbled and poured soup into his lap. plaintively: “Why does everyone take what I say so seriously?” She loved a good argument and reckoned that the high and mighty should be able to defend themselves. Now. Under the rules. to take the holidays that she herself hated. her beloved detectives. At some point in the long night. when necessary.co. When one new adviser staggered out after a savage “handbagging”. and provided us with prime ministerial bacon and eggs. http://www. they were pretty tasty. if she thought they were run-down. the speechwriters needed to be fed. I was a temporary civil servant. But we knew that the real author of a speech was the woman who had subjected every line to forensic analysis and then gone out prepared to defend the brave policies it advocated. the prime minister leapt up to comfort the waitress. Mrs Thatcher duly put aside her handbag.Telegraph 4/15/13 9:34 PM hierarchies: she kissed down and she kicked up. Mrs Thatcher could not receive official help for party political occasions – thus no Downing Street secretaries. Besides. and forcing ministers.html Page 2 of 3 . she asked. that depends on the quality of both the hero and the valet. She was invariably courteous and understanding to the typists. (The very highest took revenge in due course. As I recall. When the freezer ran out of M&S lasagne. advising the prime minister on a range of policies. the ladies who served the tea. It is said that no man is a hero to his valet.) Until 5. She thought that people at the top should know their stuff – or else. we all remembered that she had delivered the Perfect Squelch to a group of intellectual “valets” with ideas above their station. But she was considerate to everyone. above all no chefs and waitresses. It was hard on Sir Geoffrey Howe that. Thatcher aides on the writing side might sometimes be tempted to claim credit for a particular speech or even phrase. but not invariably fair. advising us on our diets (“Give John more potatoes. whether physical or intellectual.30pm each day. the doormen.

telegraph. “The cock may crow.” she began.co. and that politicians were merely their instruments. but it’s the hen that lays the eggs…” © Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited 2013 http://www. she was the 12th speaker scheduled to appear.John O'Sullivan: The two sides of Margaret Thatcher .html Page 3 of 3 .uk/news/politics/margaret-thatcher/9991833/John-OSullivan-The-two-sides-of-Margaret-Thatcher. They all overran their time. Eventually. “Gentlemen. They all argued that intellectuals were the real movers and shakers of the world.Telegraph 4/15/13 9:34 PM At the 30th-anniversary dinner of the Institute of Economic Affairs. The previous speakers were all men. the prime minister rose to speak.

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