View Full Version : This week in history: Maggie Thatcher resigns in tears

19-11-2013, 02:28 PM
“Howe” to dump a tyrant

The recent spate of political obituaries for President Barack Obama brings to mind another precipitous fall from a seemingly unassailable position – that of Margaret Thatcher. Here follows our brief memories of that joyous and momentous event.

From the infamous sinking of the Argentinian ship, the General Belgrano, during the imperial war over the Malvinas Islands, to the brutal repression of Irish republicans, to the crushing of English, Scottish and Welsh coal miners, Margaret Thatcher had well and truly earned her stripes in the service of the British Empire and her tag of “the Iron Lady”. It’s fair to say that she was widely loathed, including by the British people themselves, but in equal measure adored by a significant faction in and around the City of London in particular, for whom such capacity for cruelty was seen in fact as nothing less than a badge of honour. Well, after all, the cornerstone policy of her administration was an explosion of financial de-regulation, known as “The Big Bang”, and it enriched the financiers to their absolute contentment, whilst of course undermining the real economy and impoverishing millions of ordinary working people.

But Thatcher was a deeply flawed character and whether emboldened by the adulation of The City or whether her delusional personality simply took her over completely, she lunged forward with a series of highly controversial policies and with an exhibition of narcissism which even her loyal, long standing Cabinet colleagues could no longer stomach, and suddenly the Iron Lady began to show signs of rust.

Geoffrey Howe, now known as Baron Howe of Aberavon, had been Thatcher’s longest serving Cabinet minister successively holding the posts of Chancellor of the Exchequer, Foreign Secretary and Deputy Prime Minister. After a series of pleas to her to reconsider her policy direction were ignored, he resigned from his position of Deputy Prime Minister on 1st Nov 1990. He wrote a critical but somewhat muted letter of resignation which was also relatively ineffectual. His style was that of a diplomat, polite, softly spoken and considered – a world removed from the pugnacious Thatcher – but he was none the less determined and importantly had significant backing within the Tory Party. By the way, it is note worthy that Howe had no prime ministerial ambitions of his own but was simply intent on ending Thatcher’s increasingly tyrannical reign.

The practice following such resignations is for a resignation speech to be delivered in the immediate days after the event, however Howe, claiming a loss of voice, delayed his until two weeks later. No doubt there were frantic political manoeuvrings in that intervening two weeks, and we can assume that these deliberations were concluded successfully by his supporters and that everything was in place by 13th November because on that day he arose to address a packed House of Commons, including Thatcher herself in the front row.

It is perhaps a little ironic that such an apparently timid, almost subservient character could deliver such a mortal blow to the hitherto invincible Iron Lady, but that is precisely what he did. In an act of high drama worthy of Shakespeare himself, and to great delight throughout Britain and Ireland and around the world he calmly but forcefully demolished the Thatcher tyranny, administering the coup de grâce with his closing line when he called on others to “consider their own response to the tragic conflict of loyalties with which I have myself wrestled for perhaps too long”.

After a week clearing her desk and pondering what went wrong, Thatcher resigned in tears a mere 9 days later on 22nd November 1990


19-11-2013, 08:11 PM
The only time she shed tears - feeling sorry for herself.

C. Flower
06-03-2014, 12:11 AM
"Thatcher and Ireland" is on RTE One now. No idea when it was made or who made it.

06-03-2014, 12:44 AM
"Thatcher and Ireland" is on RTE One now. No idea when it was made or who made it.

Thatcher: Ireland and The Iron Lady is directed by Trevor Birney and produced by Mary Curry. The documentary is Below The Radar TV production for RTE. It is a co-production with BBC Northern Ireland and is part financed by NI Screen.
First shown in July last year. On youtube here:


C. Flower
06-03-2014, 01:00 AM
First shown in July last year. On youtube here:


Great thanks. It had an older feel to it, I suppose because of the presence of so many old faces and old footage and Gerry Adams sitting in a derelict room.