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Margaret Thatcher: From Grantham to the Falklands

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But Moore adds that Thatcher was better at promoting ideas than generating them. “Strictly thinking, Mrs. Thatcher was ill equipped for intellectual battle,” he tells readers. “Despite the brisk efficiency for which she was renowned, she did not have an intellectually orderly mind; nor did she have an original one. Rather than developing ideas of her own, she was a sort of ‘stage-door Johnny’ for the ideas of others – admiring, overexcited. But this was not in fact, a handicap.” He quotes Thatcher adviser Alfred Sherman: “She wasn’t a woman of ideas... she was a woman of beliefs, and beliefs are better than ideas.”

Although Thatcher served as the first female prime minister of Great Britain from 1979 to 1990, Moore refers to her as “Mrs. Thatcher” throughout much of his narrative because “that is what people called her, and the word “Mrs.” was very important in their minds.”

It’s a reminder that even as the leader of a major power, Thatcher was still touched by traditional ideas about womanhood. In documenting the Thatchers’ domestic life, for example, Moore notes that in accordance with government rules, the prime minister and her husband, Denis, were given no household staff to clean their government residence or cook meals. Because Denis was too old-fashioned to think about providing meals for himself, supper duties often fell to Thatcher, who frequently resolved the issue by ordering convenience foods from down the street.

Thatcher could, Moore writes, use longstanding cultural assumptions about women to her advantage. Upon her election as leader of the Conservative Party in 1975, she played upon the consensus among her critics that she was “a little girl lost,” telling allies that “she was a frail little woman who needed the help of strong men such as they. She was not as vulnerable as she wished to seem, however. She had a burning sense of mission.”

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