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The Iron Lady: A series of interviews with Charles Moore about Baroness Thatcher

By Matthew Barrett
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It's the August Bank holiday, and what better way of enjoying politics this afternoon than watching this set of videos of the peerless Charles Moore discussing Lady Thatcher - whose authorised biography Moore is writing. He is interviewed by Peter Robinson, of Stanford University's Hoover Institution:

In this clip, Moore says:
  • Before Lady Thatcher, unions exercised "very, very severe control of labour".
  • "You couldn't bring about change, you couldn't sack people, you couldn't create new jobs".
  • It was believed "you could only run the country through a deal by the politicians and the leaders of the labour unions".
  • The tax rates on "unearned income" were "right up in the 90s, and even on so-called 'earned income' was up in the 80s".
  • "She had a very independent approach, she never thought 'I must go with the crowd'".
  • "As she made her way through life, she's essentially acting alone, there's no big group of pals helping her".
  • "What most struck her as she grew up and matured in politics was the horror of her country going downhill, and of the sense of failure".
  • "What Margaret Thatcher cares about so much is the idea that her country has enormous potential".

In this clip, the Falklands War is discussed:

  • "The invasion of the Falklands was, among other things, completely unexpected".
  • The notion that she should cut a deal with Argentina was "overwhelming in the minds of diplomats, but the opposite feeling was in the minds of the British people".
  • The establishment favoured a deal with Argentina, meaning her position was one of "loneliness".
  • "Mrs Thatcher saw that you had to" take back the Falklands, "unless you could get peace with honour, and Argentina was so stupid they didn't offer that".
  • Ronald Reagan was "slightly hedging his bets", but the Reagan-Thatcher personal relationship meant the US eventually came down on the British side of the conflict.

On the National Union of Miners strike:

  • "In a way Arthur Scargill was the best gift to Mrs Thatcher".
  • Before Scargill, unions "had been led by fairly moderate people, who were very difficult to argue with politically, because they had a moral stature".
  • Scargill had a political agenda - to bring down the government.
  • He also received money from the USSR and Libya.
  • "She always knew" Scargill "didn't have all the miners with him".
  • "There was a point half-way where it really did look as if she'd lose".
  • "She did essentially have the moral argument on her side", as well as the economic one.

On the Cold War:

  • Thatcher and Reagan had "correctly analysed" the threat of Soviet Russia in the 1970s, before either came to power.
  • "She led the fight in Western Europe" to install missiles to counter Soviet missiles.
  • "Ehe never thought Soviet communism had anything good about it, but she detected in Gorbachev a readiness to recognise reality".
  • "Eome sort of human rapport" was established between Thatcher and Gorbachev.
  • "She had the confidence that the Western system would ultimately prevail, both economically and militarily".
  • "She was very shocked by Reagan's belief that you could just do away with nuclear weapons".
  • "She thought nuclear weapons were the best guarantee of peace in a wicked world because of the deterrent effect".

Lady Thatcher's legacy:

  • Why did her Cabinet revolt against her? "It was really because her colleagues were fed up with her being in charge of them for so long - and she was not always polite to them"... "in fact she probably got more arrogant with the passing of the years".
  • "she believed the European Union was going to take away British sovereignty, and become a United States of Europe of a very dangerous kind" - her cabinet disagreed.
  • "I would say that she left a huge change in economic ideas".
  • She exported privatisation as a global political idea.
  • In an era of deficits, "her reputation is growing very much in the United Kingdom... because people see how much she tried to deal with real problems" - in contrast to current British politicians.
  • "Margaret Thatcher is a titanic figure in British history", with the handbag being her iconic symbol.
  • "She had the courage of her convictions, and her convictions were proved right by the course of history".


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