Margaret Thatcher: A Portrait of the Iron Lady

By John Blundell | Go to book overview

6. EDUCATION SECRETARY

“It sometimes strikes me that more people are interested in educa-
tion for reasons of egalitarianism than for reasons of education.”

“Let our children grow tall, and some taller than others and they
often have it in them to do so.”

For nearly four years she served in the government of Edward (Ted) Heath as Secretary of State for Education and Science. She was only the second woman to serve in a Conservative Cabinet, the first being Florence Horsburgh, Churchill’s Education Minister 1951 to 1954. We start first with her life as Education Secretary then examine her role as Cabinet Member.1 Cabinet colleague Jim Prior reports that Ted Heath called him before her appointment and said “I’ve been discussing who we might need as our statutory woman.”

She entered a department wedded to central planning and the idea that nanny or “the man in Whitehall” knows best. Coupled with this was the ideological rift on education within her own party. On the left of the Conservative Party there were many who favored the abandon-

1 British Cabinet Members are answerable to Parliament and therefore must be members of either the House of Commons (lower house) or House of Lords (upper house). Most are members of the former. When a Prime Minister wishes to appoint an outsider (a very rare circumstance), then the person in question is either made a member of the Lords very quickly or a by-election has to be equally quickly arranged in a safe seat (by making the incumbent a Lord).

-63-

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Margaret Thatcher: A Portrait of the Iron Lady
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • List of Acronyms ix
  • Acknowledgements xi
  • Protocol xiii
  • Table of Contents xv
  • Preface 1
  • Introduction 11
  • 1- Childhood 17
  • 2- University 25
  • 3- Launching 35
  • 4- Elected 45
  • 5- Opposition I 53
  • 6- Education Secretary 63
  • 7- Reflections 71
  • 8- Leader 77
  • 9- Opposition II 83
  • 10- Power 89
  • 11- Liberating the Economy 93
  • 12- Privatizing the Commanding Heights 99
  • 13- Selling off Public Housing 107
  • 14- Going to War 113
  • 15- Beating the Miners 121
  • 16- Reforming the Unions 127
  • 17- Battling the I.R.a 131
  • 18- Befriending America 137
  • 19- Kicking Down the Wall 141
  • 20- Dealing with Brussels 147
  • 21- Resignation 155
  • 22- Retirement 165
  • 23- Family 173
  • 24- Men 181
  • 25- Her World 191
  • 26- Ten Lessons 197
  • Postscript- What Remains to Be Done 207
  • Appendix I- Table of Margaret Thatcher’s Elections* 209
  • Appendix II- General Election Results from 1945 -2005 210
  • Further Reading 211
  • Index 213
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