Modern-day politicians would not be strong enough to win the miners’ strike, but they would have been better at spinning it to the media than Margaret Thatcher was, Thatcher’s authorised biographer has said in an interview with George Osborne.
Speaking at the launch of the second instalment of Charles Moore’s biography of Thatcher – in front of an audience that included Peter Mandelson – the chancellor asked Moore whether Thatcher had lost “the story” of the miners’ strike.
“When the [National Union of Mineworkers] went back to work, you say that she essentially then departed the field of battle,” said Osborne. “She doesn’t try and win the story of the miners’ strike and, as you put it, it’s left to [films like] Billy Elliot … is that an error or, as you put it, were they actually rather embarrassed by the bitterness and division of the previous years?”
“If modern politicians were dealing with this they wouldn’t have been strong enough to win the strike, but they would have been much better at spinning it,” Moore responded.
“I’m not sure I take that,” joked Osborne.
Speaking later, Osborne asked: “Did the damage to the Conservative party in the north of England – we could talk about Scotland as well – of Thatcherism or the way it came to be seen, what do you see as the legacy there? Does [Thatcher] bear any responsibility for the fact that subsequently the Conservative party got wiped out in those parts of the country and has only more recently started to come back in some of them?”
“I think [Thatcher] had more seats in the north than the Conservative party does today. I think that’s important to remember,” said Moore.
“There was tremendous pain about something that had to happen – which is sort of understandable – which was the end of old-fashioned heavy industry and utterly unionised heavy industry … The whole world really recognises that it had to happen and even in these places it’s recognised that it had to happen, but [Thatcher is] not going to get the credit for it.”
“Is that because she did not demonstrate sufficient sympathy?” asked Osborne.
“Though in some ways she was the most brilliant public performer and creator of her own myth, in another way, she spent very, very little time thinking about presentation because she was so busy getting on with everything,” said Moore.
This article was written by Frances Perraudin, for theguardian.com on Thursday 15th October 2015 23.00 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010