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What Might Have Been In 1979

December 31, 2009 1 comment

Papers from 1979 released under the ‘Thirty Year Rule’ reveal the inner-mind of Margaret Thatcher and the following, exclusive to this Blog, gives a fascinating insight into some of her and her Government’s thinking of the time…

Irresistible Force meets Immovable Object

June 10th 1979: Brian Clough is the man of the moment and Nottingham Forest are European Champions. But there’s room for only one ‘Big Mouth’. A note from Mrs Thatcher to Deputy PM Willie Whitelaw states ‘Sort this one out will you Willie?’. A secret summit between Whitelaw and Clough produces an agreement to co-ordinate media appearances between the Supreme Leader and…Thatcher. Protocol 1.5 states that the Prime Minister will not give interviews immediately before or after the ‘Big Match’ but appearances on ‘Football Focus’ are left for future discussion.

You Won’t Get Me I’m Part of the Union

September 20th 1979: Tensions are already high between the Trade Unions and the Government. An exchange of letters between TUC General Secretary Len Murray and Secretary of State for Industry Keith Joseph reveals the hostility between the parties; Murray wrote ‘and mark my words, when the forces of Thatcherism clash against the rights of the worker there’ll only be one winner! And you can forget about your privatisation agenda!’. Joseph’s reply quotes Hayek extensively.

Oil’s Well that Ends Well

October 15th 1979: ‘Dallas’ is a television sensation and it turns out that Mrs Thatcher is big fan. The Foreign Office write to the State Department inviting Larry Hagman to address the Cabinet on ’The Economics of Oil and Free Market Principles’. The proposal is vetoed by the ‘Wets’. The Prime Minister notes in marginalia; ‘we will have to do something about this!’ Larry Hagman is unavailable; the Cabinet have to make do with Charlene Tilton. Her recommendation that Britain focus on Financial Services proves to be highly influential.

MT and ET

December 6th 1979: ‘Star Trek – The Motion Picture’ premieres in the US. Mrs Thatcher is shown to be a closet ‘Trekker’; correspondence in Prime Ministerial papers between Thatcher and Star Trek creator Gene Rodenberry has the Prime Minister stating ‘please could you tell me more about the Vulcan philosophy; I’m particularly interested in the logical/non-humorous side. Dr [sic] Spock seems to get a ‘hard press’ and I would love to learn more about how he endures such calumny’. She receives an autograph from Leonard Nimoy which says ’Live Long and Prosper!’.

Hey Pop Pickers!

December 15th 1979: Disastrous polling and a brutal public image force Mrs Thatcher to ‘reach out’ more to the voters. Ace spin-doctor, Gordon Reece, advises Thatcher to choose her favourite pop song of the year. Instead of the Buggles and Gary Numan, Thatcher asks if she can choose Vera Lynn. They have another go and Tim Bell conducts a focus group to determine which song she should like. Middle England decide and Mrs T congratulates Cliff Richard on his No 1 hit ‘It’s So Funny’. Malcolm McLaren writes to Downing Street complaining that nobody pays any attention to his band.

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