Margaret Thatcher: Prime Minister Indomitable

By Juliet S. Thompson; Wayne C. Thompson | Go to book overview

7
The fall of the Iron Lady, 1990
Lewis G. John

The fall of Margaret Thatcher in November 1990 as leader of the Conservative Party and consequently as prime minister has been variously and extravagantly depicted as "the most extraordinary event in the history of British democratic politics," "the most remarkable period in the peacetime politics of the twentieth century," and "a human tragedy as well as an essay in British constitutional practice."1.

The events leading up to her resignation on November 22 were chronicled and analyzed in exacting detail in the newspapers and periodicals of the day, as well as in numerous books and articles which appeared in print in the year following that resignation. Although a full and balanced assessment must await the perspective provided by the passage of time and the accounts and memoirs of all those most directly involved, it is my purpose here to outline the major factors or "plot lines" accounting for her demise, the actions of the primary cast of characters involved in the drama, and a very brief chronology of her last days in office.

Hugo Young wrote in The Guardian of Friday, November 23, 1990, the day following Margaret Thatcher's resignation, the following:

She died as she had lived, in battle. It was a quite extraordinary end, but it was in keeping with everything important that had gone before. There was a continuity, not only in the texture of these events but in the circumstances of her long life and swift demise. Just as her triumphs were often rooted in her zest for combat, her refusal to listen to advice and her unwillingness to admit that she

____________________
1.
First quote in Bruce Anderson, John Major: The Making of the Prime Minister ( London: Fourth Estate, 1991), 98. Second in Alan Watkins, A Conservative Coup: The Fall of Margaret Thatcher ( London: Duckworth, 1991), 27. Third in "One Short Year Later," The Economist, November 23, 1991, 99.

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