David Frum

04.08.13

How Margaret Thatcher's Opponents Underestimated Her

GABRIEL DUVAL/AFP/Getty Images ()

Charles Moore on Margaret Thatcher: (from a BBC radio interview transcription on the Spectator blogsite)

One reason for her success is that she was constantly underrated by her opponents. They either thought she was too extreme or they thought she was too crude and unsophisticated and they didn’t understand that she was tapping in to a very wide appeal which went way beyond her party, much more than most previous Tory leaders... way beyond her party to people of the upper working class and rising middle class, who wanted more freedom and independence and prosperity and were fed up with too much power and because Mrs Thatcher always sold herself as a conviction politician, which was true that she was, I don’t think everybody quite realised that she was a politically very cunning politician, and she knew when to strike and when not to strike and she was extremely good at conveying the message very strongly, so she set herself up in a very clear and defined way which allowed people to understand where she was going and enough people supported it for her to win three times.

I think that she lost support from her Cabinet colleagues over Europe because they were very determined to go in for ever closer union, and she was against it. It’s right that the poll tax was extremely unpopular in the country and that weakened her political position, but the coup against her by colleagues I think was driven by the European issue.