Thatcher Betrayal Myths

John Rentoul

Margaret Thatcher  2530710b 300x187 Thatcher Betrayal MythsI understand if you’ve had enough Thatcher, but the same thing applies to people who think recalling Parliament is excessive or the tribute session too long. If you don’t like it, don’t watch it; and if you don’t want to read any more, go and read something else (but not before you have posted a comment below saying that you thought this post was a complete waste of time or, if you really want to demean yourself, that it is the spending of public money on MPs’ expenses or the funeral to which you object).

But two myths are worth debunking. One is the idea that she was not responsible for the Single European Act, the single greatest act of the UK’s integration in the European Community since we joined it. Gerald Howarth, the Conservative MP for Aldershot, in his speech in the Commons just now, said that she told him that she intended it to apply only to the single market in jobs and services, and not to subjects such as working hours, and said: “I was betrayed.”

Actually, that myth isn’t really worth debunking because I don’t think anyone, not even the sectarians of the cult of the Blessed Eurosceptic, believes it.

The Myth of Cabinet Treachery, on the other hand, is widely believed, and Gary Gibbon resuscitated it yesterday. She herself believed that she had been undone by disloyal Cabinet colleagues, who failed to rally wholeheartedly to her support when she consulted them after she fell short of the required majority in the first ballot of Tory MPs in November 1990.

The idea that, if they had urged her to fight on, rather than saying they would support her but didn’t think she would win, she would have stayed on, is bunk.

She had lost the confidence of the wider parliamentary Conservative party. They knew that, if she refused to abandon the poll tax, they would lose the next election. She refused to abandon the poll tax; therefore they had resolved to push her out.

There was nothing the Cabinet could have done about it. Just as with the Single European Act, she made her decision and she is now accountable to history for it.

Tagged in: ,
  • martin_lowe

    “Margaret – what first attracted you to the multi-millionaire Denis Thatcher?”

  • drg40

    I wouldn’t argue with a word of that.
    But the question remains, whilst she was still blessed with a full set of marbles, were the goals against which she performed all this hard work appropriate? Did she validate her goals when they were questioned? When she had set herself goals, did she question whether the tactics she deemed necessary were in the national interest? Or were the goals she did achieve hopelessly tainted by the damage she did to the ordinary citizen to whom she should have given her utmost priority?
    To my mind there was an obsessive quality about Thatcher which made her unfit for high office. Perhaps it was that obsessive quality which made her work hard.

  • Helen Oakes

    I worked all my working life,and was lucky that I enjoyed it, and was paid enough. As now, there were not enough jobs to go round, and people I knew who had to rely on benefits were living, as now, on a pittance. So, I felt lucky – and don’t kid yourself , however hard you have worked to earn your money, you are lucky to have a good job and I was glad that those less lucky were treated well – I was proud to live in a civilised country. When in the eighties we began to have beggars, homeless people on the streets, I was ashamed of my country, and when recently the govt, encouraged one citizen to despise another because they were poor, having to accept help, I was ashamed again – it is disgusting behaviour in those like our lucky boys in govt. who have always been able to rely on there being money for them whatever happened. It is the behaviour of bullies in the playground and stick up for them if you like, but hope they improve their behaviour before you have hard times – because however you work, you could, through no fault of your own, be down on your luck.
    So, good luck David,

  • Jen The Blue

    This is such horse-sh*t. The main format of the funeral was agreed by the previous Labour Government. But don’t let the facts get in the way of your lefty mock outrage.

  • ben gosling

    Agreed wholeheartedly. The hagiography is getting mighty tiresome.

    I don’t think Clement Attlee should have had a state (in all but name) funeral either. Not because he wasn’t deserving – both he and his deputy were, in my opinion, though they may both have objected – but because whilst most voters are taxpayers, not all taxpayers are leftists or Labour voters.

    It’s biased to afford influential leaders of one side and not the other special treatment. Even if it weren’t about ethics – which, because of how divisive she was, it is – it would be about objectivity. Fewer than fifty percent of voters supported Mrs Thatcher in any of the three general elections her party won. Now it would seem that her support is consigned to an even smaller, but more elite and far more vocal, minority.

    Anyway, I suppose we’ve both been suitably demeaned. This post was a complete waste of time.

  • ben gosling

    What’s wrong with a little dependence? And please don’t tell me that everyone on benefits is a Mick Philpott, not when less than 3% of the social security budget goes to the unemployed.

    Were you able to buy a house without a mortgage, I wonder? Able to get a job without a reference? Most of us need help with something at some point. Far from making us altricial, relying on one another for support augments our own efforts. On a personal level, I consider it healthy; on a financial level, necessary.

    Working life for many people now involves alternating between work and unemployment. Two thirds of working families supplement their income with some form of state benefit. Wages are not rising in line with inflation, there are not enough jobs, and people need help to live.

    Punishing them is not the answer, and justifying a reactionary viewpoint with the notion that the disenfranchised are indolent is equally small-minded.

    The principle is sound, yes, but it excuses a pattern of judgement and behaviour that is far more damaging.

  • Cheryl Atkins

    Format decided by the last Labour Government So what This Government has ignored or changes evrything the last Government has done. Austerity for us and for the rich the public purse is thrown open. This Government continues to treat the ordinary people of this `Country with contempt.

    If the Tories want to eulogise Thatcher THEN THEY SHOULD PAY FOR IT. Apart the fact that they can well afford it Mrs Thatcher benefited only few the rest of us are dealing with fallout ,record high gas and electricity bills expensive and badly run privatised railways record number of homesless and profiteering by the few who can while the rest of us pay the (Tax) bill.

  • Manfarang

    Clement Attlee had become very much forgotten at the time he passed away.I remember one Labour Party stalwart saying at the time he had gone on too long.
    Thatcher on the other hand became something of an icon to the left and remained very much remembered.
    The industrial decline of Britain would have happened Thatcher or no Thatcher.

  • blackfirscharlie

    Newsflash! Rich dead person buried at taxpayers expense, watched by lots of rich people.
    That’s not a myth.
    The Tories stabbed her in the back whilst shedding crocodile tears-that’s not a myth either.

Most viewed



Property search
Browse by area

Latest from Independent journalists on Twitter