Conservative Diary

Thatcher & Thatcherism

17 Dec 2011 11:32:20

Dole Queues and Demons: British Election Posters from the Conservative Party Archive

By Matthew Barrett
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Dole Queues and Demons"Dole Queues and Demons: British Election Posters from the Conservative Party Archive", a new book written by Stuart Ball, a Reader in Modern History at the University of Leicester, was released this month. The book contains nearly 200 of the 650 election campaign posters in the vast Conservative Party Archive, which is contained in the Bodleian Library - the main research library at the University of Oxford. Many of the posters have never been shown in print. 

"Dole Queues and Demons" provides a guide to the political issues and electoral strategies of the Party throughout the twentieth century, and up to the present state of affairs.

Housewife Bbc












Right-hand poster from 1958, left-hand poster from 1952.

Continue reading "Dole Queues and Demons: British Election Posters from the Conservative Party Archive" »

20 Nov 2011 12:09:53

Thatcher tops league table of best Prime Ministers

By Tim Montgomerie
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Lady Thatcher has been in the news this week given the impending launch of the Iron Lady movie (watch trailer). In the latest YouGov poll (PDF) for The Sunday Times, voters installed Lady Thatcher at the top of the league table for best post-war Prime Ministers:

  1. Margaret Thatcher: 27%
  2. Winston Churchill: 20%
  3. Tony Blair: 9%
  4. Harold Wilson: 6%
  5. Clement Attlee: 5%
  6. Harold MacMillan: 2%
  7. Gordon Brown: 1%
  8. John Major: 1%
  9. Edward Heath: 1%
  10. Anthony Eden: 1%
  11. Jim Callaghan: 0%
  12. David Cameron: 0%
  13. Alec Douglas-Home: 0%

Continue reading "Thatcher tops league table of best Prime Ministers" »

25 Sep 2011 08:44:00

Margaret Thatcher joins Liam Fox for his 50th birthday party

By Tim Montgomerie
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We haven't seen Margaret Thatcher in public for some time but here's a photograph of her attending Liam Fox's fiftieth birthday party. She's looking well and the Defence Secretary is wearing a very shiny shirt! David Cameron was also in attendance. BBC report here.

22 Sep 2011 09:58:00

The Right was right about free enterprise, crime and the €uro. It's right about climate change today.

By Tim Montgomerie
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Screen shot 2011-09-22 at 09.29.24 This week's Spectator trails a Peter Oborne pamphlet for the Centre for Policy Studies. Oborne names the guilty men (and women) who attempted to lead Britain into the €urozone. He names prominent businessmen, politicians and other establishment figures. He pays particular attention to the BBC's dreadfully biased coverage at the time:

"In the nine weeks leading to 21 July 2000, when the argument over the euro was at its height, the Today programme featured 121 speakers on the topic. Some 87 were pro-euro compared to 34 who were anti. The case for the euro was represented by twice as many figures, interviews and soundbites as the case against. BBC broadcasters tended to present the pro-euro position itself as centre ground, thus defining even moderately Eurosceptic voices as extreme, meaning that they were defeated even before they had entered the debate. But this was not the worst of the unfairness. The Eurosceptics were too rarely given time to state their reasons for favouring sterling. Their position was too often covered through a paradigm of deep, ‘explosive’, splits within the Conservative party rather than the merits of the policy argument. Again and again the BBC would lead its news coverage on scare stories that failure to join the euro would lead to economic or industrial disaster."

Continue reading "The Right was right about free enterprise, crime and the €uro. It's right about climate change today." »

30 Aug 2011 08:29:26

United at the top. Major, Hague, IDS and Howard are giving Cameron all the support they can.

By Tim Montgomerie
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4L The rebelliousness of many on the Tory backbenches has been well documented on ConHome's Parliamentary pages. We've also recorded the unhappiness of many Tory members about certain government policies (although not, significantly, its main priorities). One thing we've not really covered is the perhaps obvious but no less significant fact that - at the top of the Tory tree - the Conservative leadership has rediscovered the party's once great weapon of loyalty and party discipline.

For as long as I can remember ex-Tory leaders have caused trouble for current Tory leaders. Heath and Macmillan, for example, provided regular headaches for Margaret Thatcher. Thatcher was a famously unhelpful backseat driver to John Major. Hague couldn't escape Thatcher's shadow. Look at the situation now, however. Each one of the party's ex-leaders is very supportive of Cameron. The PM regularly talks to John Major, especially about security and foreign policy issues. Major was unofficial spokesman for Cameron at the time of the Coalition negotiations. Michael Howard is an important behind-the-scenes influence and engineered the extended leadership process that gave Cameron the opportunity, in 2005, to thwart the frontrunning David Davis. Then, of course, there's Hague and IDS - two pivotal members of Cameron's Cabinet. For those with a subscription to The Times I've written an OpEd column about all of this today.

Continue reading "United at the top. Major, Hague, IDS and Howard are giving Cameron all the support they can." »

29 Aug 2011 14:30:58

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:

Continue reading "The Iron Lady: A series of interviews with Charles Moore about Baroness Thatcher" »

2 Mar 2011 20:55:55

Cameron doing more than Thatcher, says Michael Fallon

Tim Montgomerie

Towering Cameron-1
Mr Fallon, the Deputy Chairman of the Tory Party (and in reality David Cameron's most senior parliamentary advisor outside of the Cabinet) argues that Cameron is moving "further and faster" than Margaret Thatcher. He makes the claim in an article for The Telegraph.

It's an audacious piece. Francis Maude made a similar claim last July.

Look at, Fallon writes...

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18 Feb 2011 11:21:30

Lord Heseltine tries to rewrite history over Margaret Thatcher and the Falklands

By Jonathan Isaby

Lord Heseltine 2011 On last night's BBC Question Time, in the context of the U-turn over forests, former Cabinet minister Lord Heseltine was asked by David Dimbleby what Margaret Thatcher's biggest U-turn had been as Prime Minister.

He proceeded to claim that Mrs Thatcher had done a deal with General Galtieri over the sovereignty of the Falklands and only overturned it after pressure from the Tory Right.

Viewable via the iPlayer for the next week here (39 minutes and 20 seconds in), here is a transcript of the exchange with David Dimbleby:

Dimbleby: What was the biggest U-turn Mrs Thatcher did?
Heseltine: Oh, I suppose on the Falklands.
Dimbleby: What, she wasn't going to go to the Faklands?
Heseltine: No. There was a deal with Galtieri and the Right wing of the Tory Party overturned it in 1982, was it? Or 1981? Whenever it was, it was very early in the...
Dimbleby: But they did actually invade the Falklands, it was slightly different.
Heseltine: Not at all. Mrs Thatcher, through the voice of Nick Ridley announced a deal with the Argentinians and that was her policy. A group of Right wing Conservative MPs said "we won't put up with this" and Mrs Thatcher gave in. 

Continue reading "Lord Heseltine tries to rewrite history over Margaret Thatcher and the Falklands " »

7 Feb 2011 14:37:22

The lady wasn't for turning because she didn't try to do too much

Tim Montgomerie

'U-turn-ery' has been exercising the political commentariat recently. I contributed to the five minute package above for yesterday's Politics Show. And The Spectator's Fraser Nelson noted that the lady may not have been for turning but, as for David Cameron, the "laddie IS for turning".

As Fraser blogs, the key problem is not the number of u-turns (there have been remarkably few). The key problem is the speed and scale of the Coalition's reform programme. Steve Hilton apparently wants to change everything (and it's always good to have a radical within a team to challenge the snails). Overall, however, it is better that the government focuses on doing a few things very well and focuses on communicating those things. I've suggested that the government should focus on deficit eradication, welfare reform, school reform and perhaps one or two other big projects. The NHS reforms, in particular, may be a reform too far.

Continue reading "The lady wasn't for turning because she didn't try to do too much" »

22 Nov 2010 08:40:10

Twenty years ago Margaret Thatcher resigned as Tory leader

Tim Montgomerie

Those videos are a trip down memory lane.

In two separate pieces in The Telegraph in the last two days, Andrew Roberts and Charles Moore have attempted to capture the significance of Lady Thatcher's time as Prime Minister and also the manner of her unhappy ousting on 22nd November 1990.

Historian Andrew Roberts argued in The Sunday Telegraph that the Iron Lady deserves a state funeral:

"For the first female prime minister – someone who held the office longer consecutively than anyone since 1827, rescued Britain from bankruptcy and trade union domination, liberated Crown subjects in the Falklands, restored British pride, and helped destroy Soviet Communism, the most evil tyranny to threaten freedom since the Nazis – Margaret Thatcher should be accorded a State funeral, as were given to Nelson and Wellington, Gladstone and Churchill. They were the great leaders of their eras, and she is the great leader of ours."

In today's Telegraph Mr Moore, Lady Thatcher's official biographer, describes how her ousting injected years of poison into the bloodstream of the Conservative Party:

"The harm of her departure was done by the method. If she was failing, she deserved, after having achieved so much, to be allowed to fail at the polls. That would have been sad, but clean. It would have allowed whoever succeeded her to emerge from her shadow. What happened was dirty. Much more than any of Mrs Thatcher’s policies, it gave the Tories the reputation of being the Nasty Party. It put poison into the system. It meant that, for years and years, Conservatives expended their emotional energies on quarrelling with one another. John Major became leader to stop Michael Heseltine. William Hague and then Iain Duncan Smith became leader to stop Ken Clarke – a sound reason, in my view, but hardly the basis for winning the country at the polls. Because the coup was unjustified, and so trust broke down, the politics of the next 15 years were those of civil war."

And, finally, an image of the twentieth century's greatest peace-time PM back at Number Ten, equipped with handbag, standing alongside David Cameron: