30th December 2010, 12:41
Secret papers reveal Thatcher's fury during 1980 crisis
Unemployment is rising, the Government's programme of brutal public spending cuts is hurting millions and cash-strapped captains of industry complain of imminent collapse. It might sound like 2010 but this was 1980 and Margaret Thatcher responded to concerns that her economic medicine was not working with ill-tempered vigour.
Previously unpublished records show that as unease spread throughout Whitehall 30 years ago at the severity of the new Conservative government's austerity measures, Mrs Thatcher wielded her handbag with even more energy behind the scenes than suggested by her "the lady's not for turning" public persona, engaging in a row with her own Chancellor and the Governor of the Bank of England, as well as lashing out over fish quotas and Brussels bureaucrats.
The secret documents released by the National Archives in Kew, west London, reveal how the former Prime Minister accused Governor Gordon Richardson of undermining her economic strategy by "shovelling" money to British companies. She criticised Chancellor Geoffrey Howe for consistently failing to get his sums right with public borrowing.
Rather than seeking ways to attenuate the impact of the budget cuts, which had seen unemployment reach 2.8 million and inflation peak at 22 per cent, Mrs Thatcher's Cabinet quietly drew up proposals for further capital-raising measures, including charging for visits to GPs and cutting old-age pensions. The plans were dropped after ministers decided they might end in riots.
The papers, released under the 30-year rule, reveal how Mrs Thatcher was under intense pressure by the summer of 1980 with little sign that her harsh economic policy was working. She was bolstered during a short holiday at Lake Zug in Switzerland, during which a group of Swiss bankers offered assurances that her policies were sound. The problem, she was told, lay in their implementation.
The Prime Minister returned from her break and fired off memos to Mr Howe and Mr Richardson, stating that Britain's money supply was "out of control" and added she was "not seeking explanations, but prescriptions for action". When the Governor replied that Mrs Thatcher "did not properly understand where the figures had gone over the top", the Iron Lady revealed her fury, stating that "the centrepiece of Government strategy was being undermined by her own supporters".
The extent of the breakdown in relations at the heart of the most important triumvirate in economic policy was underlined in a note by one of Mrs Thatcher's private secretaries, Mike Pattison: "Relations with the Chancellor are not good at present, and with the Governor are appalling – at least in the PM's eyes."
Mrs Thatcher's trademark obduracy was even more emphatically expressed when it came to her favourite foe – Brussels. The documents show that the Prime Minister rejected out of hand any suggestion that Britain should compromise in negotiations over the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) to manage stocks in the European Union.
Attempts by Agriculture minister Peter Walker to explain in a memo why it was in the United Kingdom's interest to reach a rapid settlement were annotated by Mrs Thatcher with the word "no" at five points before she scrawled on another letter related to the issue: "It's our water and our fish. Don't give them away." But a request that her press team mount a "good news" campaign was rejected.
Diplomat's Reagan worries
The relationship between Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan was one of the great political romances of the late 20th century but, for British diplomats, at least, it was not love at first sight.
Following the election of the 69-year-old former Hollywood star as the US President in 1980, Britain's ambassador to Washington expressed concern that Mr Reagan lacked "mental vitality".
Sir Nicholas Henderson wrote: "[He] believes there are simple (not to be confused with easy) answers to complex problems. The main worry about him, however, is not just age but whether he possesses the mental vitality and political vision necessary to cope with the acute and changing problems... of governing this vast country."
Mrs Thatcher was less concerned.
30th December 2010, 12:45
Love her or loath her, put her money where her mouth was and stuck up for this country, unlike the spineless yes men in politics these days
30th December 2010, 15:36
Thatcher’s battle to save fishing
confidential documents reveal ex-prime minister was ready to quit Europe over quota row
By David Perry
Margaret Thatcher vowed “never” to sell the UK fishing industry down the river as Brussels strove to impose its Common Fisheries Policy on British waters.
The extent to which she was prepared to secure a satisfactory settlement to the continuing fisheries dispute has emerged in confidential Cabinet papers released today by the National Archives.
She instructed Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Minister Peter Walker, later Lord Walker, to demand an exclusive British fishing limit up to 50 miles from the coast. And she threatened to derail negotiations between the European Economic Union (as it was known), Spain and Portugal unless she got her way.
In one particularly colourful document she scribbled “No!!”, “too woolly” and finally “never” in the margins of a paper setting out the views of Mr Walker and Foreign Secretary Lord Carrington.
The pair favoured concessions to secure a speedy settlement and open the way for vital negotiations intended to limit Britain's contribution to the cost of running the EEC.
But Mrs Thatcher was having none of it, after pledging in a key statement while leader of the Opposition in 1979: “We shall make fishing our top priority in our EEC negotiations”.
One early note from her office in 10 Downing Street set out her opposition to a compromise solution, which would have given UK trawlers the right to all fish within a 12-mile limit and preferential treatment in waters up to 50 miles. It said: “She would like to see a 50-mile exclusive zone.
“If this could not be achieved, it might be necessary to remove fish from the area of Community policies.
“We could then go straight to a 200-mile limit.”
In response to one letter from Mr Walker, she wrote: “It is our water and our fish (underlining the words ‘our fish’). Don't give them away.”
Another note from Downing Street said the European Community had “already grasped the UK's markets and her money” and should not have our fish as well.
Mrs Thatcher made it clear at one point that she was prepared to taken the fisheries issue “right down to the very roots of the UK's membership of the EEC”, and traced her “very deep” commitment back to a visit she made to Scottish fishing constituencies.
Mr Walker was an ally of former Tory prime minister Ted Heath, who had been ousted by Mrs Thatcher.
The documents trace attempts by him and other ministers and officials to educate Mrs Thatcher in the difficulties of doing business with Brussels, telling her the 50-mile zone of exclusive control was “not available” with the Fisheries Council stacked eight to one against the UK.
He and Fisheries Minister Alick Buchanan-Smith, then Tory MP for North Angus and Mearns, sought to convince her that what Scottish fishermen wanted was an end to rows with Brussels and uncertainly over their position.
While sticking her neck out in the fisheries negotiations, she was also threatening to refuse to pay Britain's contributions to Brussels and her obstinacy resulted in the failure of the EEC to agree a budget for 1980-81.
Despite the arguments, Mr Walker managed to stitch a deal with the French that enabled an agreement over that year's fish quotas.
Read more: http://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/Art...#ixzz19bruacfb
30th December 2010, 15:45
Aye Darren she made sure there were FEOGA grants to rebuild the fleet from 1980 till 1988 , it was as soon as her position was weakened in the 2 years before Tarzan ( heseltine ) stabbed her in the back that the cuts in the fleet started and as soon as Mr Gray ( John Major ) got the job his obsession with the EU meant the fleet started to get slashed which was only accelerated by Tony Bliar/Gordo Brown and this year by the SNP's "fleet resilience scheme" in Scotland which is a decommissioning scheme in all but name.
For all the things Maggie Thatcher got wrong , and there was a LOT she did get wrong , she spoke her mind and wasn't ever going to cow-tow to the EuroPrats in Brussels over anything especially the Fishing Industry. Its seen that it was that idiot Walker that stitched up the fleet behind the PM's back in agreeing to the CFP and the threats to block Portugal/Spain from the EU is the reason our fleets have been slaughtered since she left office , too many meallie-mouthed wet behind the ears politicians far too willing to "make amends" to the EU instead of standing up for our fishermen over the last 20 years.
3rd January 2011, 13:05
Politicians are muppets?..I'll have to correct ye there gde,they're no that at all.At least the muppets were funny and gave us a good laugh,politicians arenae funny and would make ye bloody weep!! Aye,whatever we might hold against dear old Maggie,and there are a few things..Poll tax,the miners(mostly their own fault in all fairness)the Belgrano and so forth,she had one thing that set her apart from the rest,well two things actually...balls...she ALWAYS put her country first and was never afraid to fight for its people,unlike some of the mediocrities nowadays that are supposed to be running the show...they couldnae run a raffle never mind a country,and as for fighting for it?...they would sell their Granny if the price was right or the job offer was good,so don't bother looking to them for any kind of help 'cause it ain't going to be forthcoming.I can see we're going to have to start a "bring back Maggie" petition on here before long!!...if only she could,if only!
3rd January 2011, 15:16
Ronnie wasn't saying you called Maggie a muppet Gavin just a general comment on politicians of all parties , one which I agree with , there isn't a politician in office just now that has the industries best interests at anything other than bottom of the list of "things to do if nothing else is happening" agenda.
For all of the "promises" made to the fishing communities over the years by all the political parties their actions speak far far louder than any cheap words ever could. Labour ignored the fishing completely , if it wasn't one of their pet projects or a "new" technology or pop star endorsed they weren't interested in the least. The previous Tory lot under John Major started the destruction of the fleets that Tony Blair and Gordon Brown simply accelerated. The SNP claimed to have made Fishing one of their priorities and yet the first 3 years they were in charge they did NOTHING for the fleet except use the fleet to try to cause trouble between Westminster and Edinburgh , now with them being involved with the quota talks the EU has used it as an excuse to cut even harder knowing that the SNP want an independent Scotland to be a member of the EU and they know full well that the SNP would not fight too hard in case they got told if we went independent that the country would be excluded from the EU , the SNP claim they could withdraw from the CFP and stay within the EU , that has been proven to be false by dozens of legal bodies and experts who say that for Scotland to remain in the EU they must sign up to ALL treaties including the CFP.
What we need are politicians that stop making promises they know full well they cannot , and will not , ever make good on. We need politicians that are willing to hold the EU and ICES to full account for their criminal mismanagement of the fishing industry over the last 30 years and are more than willing to use the UK's veto to bring ALL work in the EU parliament to a halt until the industries concerns are acted on and the EU Commission has its law making powers stripped completely ( those bunch of unelected idiots are responsible for 60% of all law imposed on the UK every year ) and ICES is taken apart and rebuilt so it is fit for purpose and not just filled with pro-green group "independent" scientists that are willing to tweak the figures to suit a political aim
3rd January 2011, 16:16
Hi,gde...As Davie says,what I meant by my comment wasn't that you thought Maggie was a muppet,and it certainly wasn't a dig at you personally,sorry if it sounded like that.It was just a tongue in cheek generalisation of to-day's politicians...most of whom very definately ARE muppets!(don't vote for them,it only encourages them as Billy Connolly said)...and they certainly aren't fit to polish the Iron Lady's shoes never mind step into them.Aye,Maggie was a once in a lifetime leader,I doubt if we'll see another of her calibre in ours,but I live in hope.A very interesting thread Davie,I only noticed it to-day,cheers for putting it on.
3rd January 2011, 20:42
No problem gde,I wouldn't like you thinking I was being a cheeky sod !! All the best to you my friend,glad that's cleared the air,cheers.