I know it's a cliche but it seems incredible that the events which led up to the end of the Thatcher premiership happened eighteen years ago! At the time I was at secondary school doing myGCSE's and I still remember hearing the news during a lunchbreak and not quite believing it, as she had been Prime Minister for as long as I could remember.
So watching last nights drama on BBC 2 was a bit like a trip down memory lane. Although probably far more of a comfortable revisit for me compared to some of those who experienced what had happened. Particularly for Margaret Thatcher and her allies, and indeed for Michael Heseltine who saw his one major chance at getting the top job fly away the moment it he heard that Margaret Thatcher resigned. His four letter response in last night's drama, after brief clips of the responses of various members of the cabinet was funny if only because of the fact that it accurately described, albeit in a crude way, what had just happened.
But the whole aim of the drama, the downfall of a combative Prime Minister who polarised opinion, was wonderfully explored by using flashback. Some of Mrs T's allies who complain of disloyalty and treachery, seem to conveniently forget that she and her supporters dished out the same treatment to Edward Heath some fifteen years before and that one of the chief criticisms of Heath was that he was not only going to damage their chances at the next general election, but that he was arrogant and aloof and would just not listen to his opponents. The same criticisms that were aimed at Margaret Thatcher years later. Indeed I was reminded in a rather brutal manner why I disliked her and why she made a useful propoganda tool for Labour and the Liberal Democrats for impressionable teenagers like myself. Namely, that Thatcher was a bully and one who was brutally pushing forward policy which hurt and alienated many people to which theThatcherite response was that 3 million unemployed was a price worth paying (Gordon Brown would never make such a crass comment). Her sheer brutal style of governing, as admired by her allies, was partly also what sealed her downfall. Cabinet ministers put up with her hectoring and her bullying and were ready to suffer humiliation, but only up to a point. Some, likeHeseltine , left when they felt that to stay would damage their dignity and self respect. Others, like Howe, left because they could not put up with it any more, and some plotted against her because she was no longer useful to them. A Prime Minister who was more collegial and more diplomatic could perhaps counted on far more support in their hour of need!
But in saying that, there was the Thatcher one could not help but feel sorry for. The one whose advisers failed to tell her promptly what was going on, the Thatcher who clearly had a dysfunctional upbringing and overcompensated in her attempt to survive in a World full of men, the Thatcher who was lucky to have a kind and devoted husband.
All in all a great drama and one I recommend you watch if you missed it and get another chance to see it.