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Maggie: The First Lady -

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(generated from captions) DRAMATIC MUSIC Margaret Thatcher - and a modest background she rose from small-town England and a world leader. to become prime minister But what do we really know of her? tradition and prejudice How did she overcome

to become Britain's first lady? and climb her way

GENTLE PIANO MUSIC The year is 1935. At a children's picnic in Grantham, of a future prime minister. the first glimpse

She was just nine years old. One of the first things I remember MARGARET THATCHER: of 1935, was the great silver jubilee of King George V and Queen Mary. the silver jubilee blue and yellow streamers, Our town was decorated with

and with the red, white and blue. And everyone took part. that our job at our school And I remember of the 'Grantham'. was to form the 'M' another did the 'R'. One school did the 'G', absolutely right. We did the 'M', and we had to get it MAJESTIC MUSIC

and her extraordinary career The story of Margaret Thatcher a town previously best known begins in Grantham in Lincolnshire, and his theory of gravity. for Sir Isaac Newton It was here in the 1920s and '30s

was shaped by values and attitudes that her character that were to remain with her. in 1925 She was born Margaret Hilda Roberts

above her father's grocery shop. in the flat second daughter. She was Alfred and Beatrice's Looking back years later, the family's frugal life. Margaret Thatcher remembered and we had no mod cons. Home really was very small We only had a cold water tap. We had not got hot water. in a copper. We had to heat all the hot water

Um, there was an outside toilet. bright as a new pin. But everything was absolutely clean, cleanliness was next to godliness. And we were taught In Margaret Roberts's early years, was with her father, Alfred. her deepest relationship the dominant force in her upbringing. His way of thinking was WOMAN: He thought the world of her. All his love was given to Margaret. She was the apple of his eye. he saw her potential. And, er...obviously, Alfred Roberts was a self-made man. with no formal qualifications. He left school at 13 before buying his own grocery store. He worked first as a shop assistant

but it was a family business. He worked hard, served behind the counter, His wife, Beatrice, and the girls were expected to help too. In my family, we were always taught that work came first. And whatever your work was, that was the most important thing. So we all worked extremely hard. The influence of Alfred Roberts extended beyond his own home.

He was a prominent churchman who preached at the local Methodist chapel. It was an austere faith which demanded a total commitment. MAN: speech and in deed.

quite a rigorous routine. It certainly was it was a bit too much. I think, perhaps, on Sundays, When you've been four times to react against it rather sharply, you do tend, perhaps, because I can remember asking with a friend on a Sunday evening, if I could go out for a walk and that wasn't allowed. there are members of the congregation 70 years on, who still have memories and his youngest daughter. of Alfred Roberts From the earliest age, was strikingly self-confident. the young Margaret LIVELY PIANO MUSIC

organised by the church. We had a music festival the piano solo for her age group And, um...she entered and she came first. And the next day, her teacher said to her, "You were lucky, Margaret, to win."

She said, "I deserved it." I said to her mother, "Do you think she'll be a concert pianist?" "Oh, no," she said. "We've got, er...she's got higher aspirations than that." Beatrice shared her husband's ambition for Margaret,

but her influence was purely practical.

how to run a household Margaret was taught and care about her appearance. her personal and political style. These lessons helped shape At the same time, narrow domestic existence and thrift her mother's irked Margaret. When you went out to buy something

new covers for the settee, and you were going to actually have that was a great event. So you went out to choose them. that looked really rather lovely, And you chose something

something light with flowers on. My mother, "That's not serviceable." And how I longed for the time that weren't serviceable. when I could buy things GENTLE PIANO MUSIC In later years, that from time she was 15, Margaret Thatcher confessed she and her mother had nothing to say to one another. By the mid-1930s,

Margaret's interests had turned to politics. In 1927, Alfred Roberts had been elected to Grantham town council. His views were decidedly conservative. And the way in which he went about politics was already rubbing off on his daughter. what you believe in. You first sort out

You then must argue your case. You then apply it.

to do it because someone else is." But you don't say, "Well, I'm going

on things that matter. And always, you don't compromise was also desperate to learn. The young Margaret Roberts her desire for knowledge. Her father both prompted and fed to the public library Every Saturday, I used to go up to get two books. the current affairs of the day. One would be about

It might've been about politics. It might've been a biography. a novel for my mother. And one would've been, perhaps, Every single Saturday. And the librarian knew I would come. GENTLE PIANO MUSIC In her early years of school, if not exceptional, pupil. she was regarded as a bright, She won prizes for piano playing and elocution. She played hockey.

Her best subjects were maths, chemistry and physics. However, there was one activity at which she excelled. We would be about 14, 15. Er, occasionally, the head would arrange for somebody to come and speak to us, a guest speaker of some kind. All kinds of different subjects. standing up and saying, WOMAN: I can distinctly see her

think such and such a thing?" "Does the speaker been said in Parliament today, in the way that could almost have the way she put it. "Oh, she's at it again." (Laughs) And we would look at each other. a reasonably competent talker. At school, I think I was always a visiting lecturer at a school, You know, if you had someone had to ask the questions. someone had to make up a speech. If you had a debate, at that, And I was always reasonably good from my father. but then I got it, I think, She worked hard at school,

determined encouragement. egged on by her father's But his support had a downside.

I don't think the word 'fun' was much in their vocabulary. And life is, can be, and should be at times, fun.

You were here to work and make what you could of it, and to be very self-disciplined, and to go and help others.

There wasn't a lot of fun and sparkle in my life. WINSTON CHURCHILL: The German air power, numerically so far outstripping ours,

to our island... has been brought so close of her 14th birthday Margaret Roberts was a month short of the Second World War. at the outbreak The experience of the war of Winston Churchill and the leadership and shaped her world view. both made their mark with that war. They were cataclysmic times having learned so much from history, And how could it be that a tyrant had still come to power? It was against the background of war her education. that Margaret continued She reached the sixth form to apply for a scholarship and decided to Somerville College at Oxford University. I think I would describe her in those days as a swot. I say I suppose most of us worked hard enough, but she was ambitious, I think, even from quite a young age. But these ambitions almost hit a wall.

She needed Latin, which she had never learnt. And at 17, her headmistress, Miss Gillies, thought she was too young to take the entrance exam.

Margaret was furious. And Margaret was extremely angry. And that was one of the first times I've ever seen her angry. She said to Miss Gillies, "You are thwarting my ambition." Father and daughter combined forces to overcome the obstacles in her path. He paid for Latin coaching and in the face of the school's refusal, the fees for the Oxford entrance exam as well. Miss Gillies backed down. TRIUMPHANT MUSIC In October 1943, a triumphant Margaret Roberts left Grantham to study chemistry at Oxford. Oxford or Cambridge were, to me, worlds that I'd heard about.

You know, the opportunity to go to university was a chance almost undreamed of. My father had never done it, and I was lucky. And it's always a good thing to aim for the top, and I did. The wartime Oxford she arrived in was, she later recollected, cold and strangely forbidding.

She looked very acceptable. You would not, I think, have picked Margaret out in a crowd. Oh, might've spared her a glance - "That's a nice young woman, she looks very proper." WOMAN: Mature. Very mature for her years. I mean, she was more like a woman of 40 than a girl of 18, I would've said. Er...serious. Not given to laughter. Her life was about work, not play. Rather than partying, she spent her weekends preaching in local chapels, a talent she carried into politics. As a woman, she was barred from the traditional nursery for future politicians, the Oxford Union, so she immersed herself in the Conservative Association. It was here she found her life's passion,

the Conservative Party. She almost immediately got in touch with the Oxford University Conservative Association. And I think most of her energies - I really do - were in that direction. I can't remember her doing things like cycling into the country, which we did, or playing games. It was politics. It was her thing. People say, "Were you interested in politics then?"

I was more than interested in it. It was a kind of fascination. I couldn't get away from it. That's much more the real thing. ROUSING MUSIC In 1945, the war was at an end and Grantham was celebrating victory. In July of that year, there was a general election. To her horror, an ungrateful nation

voted not for Winston Churchill and the Conservative Government, but for the Labour Party. However, her father's political career was still on the rise. Already an alderman, that same year, Alfred Roberts became mayor of Grantham. And Margaret Roberts tasted electoral victory herself when she was voted president of Oxford University Conservative Association.

It was a stepping stone, I'm sure, in her mind. It was a place where useful contacts might be made.

MAN: I think that what got her to the top of conservative politics at Oxford was capacity and hard work. But I thought that she had limitations of imagination, lack of originality, which would mean that she would never, absolutely speaking, get to the top. I certainly couldn't have guessed that Margaret Roberts would ever become prime minister.

GENTLE PIANO MUSIC During a vacation, she realised that there was just one career that would use her talents and fulfil her ambitions. One of my school friends was also at Oxford and we had a party in her house.

MARGARET WICKSTEAD: At the end of the party - so unlike today - we all sat round the kitchen table drinking cocoa. And my mother asked Margaret, "What are you thinking of doing when you go down from Oxford?" And she said, "I'm going to be an MP. "I want to be an MP." And that was the first time - and I can remember it vividly - it sort of...clicked immediately.

"Yes, that is what I would really like to do." BRIGHT PIANO MUSIC In 1947, Margaret Roberts graduated in chemistry. And so I said, "Congratulations, you've got your degree." And she said, "I don't know.

"Chemistry isn't the subject for politics. "I shall have to read law." She was looking ahead, but had to postpone getting this qualification. She needed to earn a living, and took a series of jobs as a chemist. MAN: Alright, all together, boys and girls - here we go. Hi-di-hi! CROWD: Ho-di-ho! Her free time was spent at Young Conservative rallies and other party gatherings around the country. The holiday camp atmosphere gave them a chance to get to know each other.

(All laugh) 'SAILOR'S HORNPIPE' PLAYS Margaret Roberts made an impression and was selected as a Conservative candidate for Dartford in Kent for the 1950 general election. A remarkable achievement - she was only 23. LAIDBACK MUSIC

A 36-year-old local businessman and Conservative supporter was present at her adoption meeting. It was the night that I was adopted as candidate and I spoke to the meeting. And it was thought that I obviously must circulate afterwards to get to know as many people as possible. We saw Denis approach her after the meeting, but we just never gave it any further thought.

And I'd missed the last train. So he was approached. Would he like to drive me back to London? And, er...that was the beginning of their friendship. Denis Thatcher, a staunch local conservative, offered to help out on the campaign. He was a businessman running the family's paint company, a divorcee and something of a man about town. To Margaret Roberts, he offered a world beyond her strict, joyless upbringing. But she wouldn't be distracted from wooing working-class Dartford. Here she played the domestic card, exhorting the Labour Government to do what any good housewife would do if money were tight - look at their accounts. In Dartford, Margaret Roberts had found her true calling. We had meetings outside factories. We went round canvassing. And, you know, in tough seats, you get the most marvellous band of helpers, really believing fervently in the cause, and you get a tremendous bond of friendship. She was now living her dream. And for the first time in her life, she was having fun. She was described by one Sunday paper as the election glamour girl.

WOMAN: I used to shout at her, "You should be, you know, at home cooking and cleaning the house, "and leaving this for the men to do." Well, she never stopped, and she never looked tired. The rest of us, well, at the end of the day, we were worn out.

But Margaret was always ready with, "What are we going to do tomorrow? "Which areas are we going to do tomorrow? "Is everything prepared for tomorrow?" 1950S NEWSREEL MUSIC NEWSREEL NARRATOR: Some 24 hours ago, the polling stations closed. She lost, but reduced the Labour majority by some 10,000 votes. When a second general election was called 18 months later,

she fought Dartford again, and again she lost. And just for once, politics wasn't the only thing on Margaret Roberts's mind. She wasn't a dazzler, but she was a very pleasant-looking young woman.

Not the sort of woman that you'd'd wolf whistle, but I did actually, um... ..ask her if she'd like to go to the pictures one evening,

not knowing about Denis in the background. Denis Thatcher entered Margaret Roberts's life at just the right moment. They would spend hours driving through the Kent countryside in his Jaguar sports car. Don't you meet someone and fall in love with them?

I don't think there's any point in going round with a specification - 6'2" tall, nice dark curly hair, brown velvet voice, kind.

Um...tall, lean, athletic. That's no good. It's the person, the personality, you fall in love with.

It's no good. Specification's no good. In the event, she fell for someone with just the right specification -

the money and the position to help her on her way. STATELY CHURCH ORGAN MUSIC

On December 13, 1951, she was married. Not in Grantham, as her sister had been, but in Wesley's Chapel in London. The 50 guests were mainly fellow conservatives.

Margaret Roberts had moved a long way from the corner shop. CHRISTINE UPTON: She had a beautiful blue velvet gown on with a large hat,

and looked most attractive. The bride's dress was copied from a Gainsborough portrait of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire. As she went past where we were sitting,

we thought how beautiful she looked. And she really looked and seemed so very happy. And she was handed over to Denis. (Laughs) The newlyweds honeymooned in Madeira and Paris, where Denis Thatcher had some business. At the age of 26, it was the first time that his wife had been abroad.

Back home, Grantham faded into the background. I think she wanted to rise above it because she was ambitious, not just politically, but socially. And Grantham was a small town and didn't have anything to recommend it except Sir Isaac Newton. Um...and I suppose she felt it wasn't, er...grand enough.

GENTLE PIANO MUSIC The Thatchers set up home in Denis's flat in Chelsea, London. And in August 1953, she gave birth to twins, Carol and Mark, prematurely. It was unusual for women to make a career in national politics at that time. It was a male preserve. To do so with children was almost unheard of. Margaret Thatcher was determined, but by 1959,

she'd been turned down by half a dozen winnable constituencies. Then, leafy Finchley in London fell vacant. It was the embodiment of everything she now stood for -

suburban, middle-class, aspirational. She made the short list. There were still people at the meeting who believed it should be a man, that a woman couldn't do such a job, especially one with a family. Before I met her,

I would certainly not have been in favour of having a woman MP because I would not have had the confidence that they could do the job. At the final selection, she beat three men and was adopted for the constituency.

In Labour Dartford, she hadn't stood a chance. Here, in a safe Tory seat, she was preaching to the converted. Even so, she campaigned as if there was everything to fight for. MAN: She was a brilliant debater. We had one public meeting. And she began by standing up and saying, "I must be one of the very few people in this hall

"who has read this report from cover to cover," which was quite true. And that taught me a great lesson - always to be properly prepared in a public debate. Mrs Thatcher, er... was always polite, but sometimes, a vein of aggression came through in the way that she dealt with questioners. She wanted to put them in their place.

I came away with the impression that here was a formidable person, but someone completely lacking in any vestige of human warmth. She fought under the slogan "Life is better with the Conservatives." led them to a resounding victory. Harold Macmillan the Member of Parliament for Finchley Margaret Thatcher became the Conservative majority and increased from 12,500 to more than 16,000. as one of just 25 women MPs, In 1959, she went to Westminster only l3 of whom were Tories. At 33, she was the youngest. Her twins were just six years old.

election to parliament For Margaret Thatcher,

on her political journey. was only the first step Westminster and the country The Tory Party, had no idea what was in store. I thought, being a new girl, to show her around, she would need me but not a bit of it. She knew just where she was going. Her fellow Tories were already aware of her determined character.

Margaret always had a reputation for being a pushy female. And, a way, that was...unhappy because she was keen - and 10 out of 10 for being keen - but, er...somehow, rather, people disliked the fact that that keenness was so obvious. She was keen, but she was also lucky. She won a ballot to introduce a bill.

This gave her a real issue for her first, or maiden, speech in the House of Commons - the right of the press to cover local council business. She was a little tense, which is quite natural because it was an important step in her career. And she wanted to make a good impression. In her maiden speech, Mrs Thatcher broke with the tradition of praising her constituency.

"Finchley," she said,

"would not wish me to do other than come straight to the point." Mrs Thatcher, it's always supposed to be a tremendous ordeal, a maiden speech. Was it for you? Oh, very much so. I've done a good deal of other speaking, but speaking in the House of Commons is quite different. It's a unique experience. BIG BEN RINGS She was the most junior of politicians and sat on the back benches in the House of Commons.

A job in government would mean a move to the front benches. Do you think it's more difficult because you are a woman? No, I didn't notice that.

It really is because of the quality of one's audience and the fact that most of them have had more experience at doing precisely what you are doing. There's been universal praise for your performance yesterday, talk of the front bench. How do you feel about that? Well, I think I'll just try to be a very good backbencher first.

She fitted in reasonably well, but we didn't... she wasn't, as it were, one of the boys, as it were.

CHEESY THEME MUSIC Once we're there, then in some parts, the atmosphere seems very much like that of a men's club, and we have to be reasonably tactful. Margaret Thatcher showed solidarity towards other women MPs.

WOMAN: And I remember she said to me,

"We have to show them that we're better than they are." Now, that wasn't about Tory and Labour. And one of the things that I got to know or learn about Mrs T was that she had a very strong sense that men were agreeable, playful, and in the end, not very serious creatures.

In October 1961, Prime Minister Harold Macmillan gave Margaret Thatcher her first job in government - Parliamentary Secretary for Pensions. She understood the significance of the appointment. It's as if they still seem to associate women with what I call the 'welfare' departments of state. And you'll notice that women are put to ministries of health, housing, pensions, education - anything to do with welfare or with children. The Thatcher family divided their time between their homes in the countryside and in Flood Street, London.

Their son, Mark, was sent away to boarding school at the age of eight. MARGARET THATCHER: My husband didn't have an independent schooling, and we automatically, I think, thought

that our son would follow in his footsteps. Margaret Thatcher and her family led a model middle-class existence, but there were strains. It's very difficult, obviously, and I've got a job too, which doesn't... makes life a little difficult, particularly the amount of travelling that I do. So that we're not together as much as we ought to be,

and would like to be, which is the important thing. Denis Thatcher was absent at crucial moments - watching cricket when the twins were born, away on business when his wife was adopted as a candidate for Finchley and when she made her maiden speech. UPBEAT MUSIC

He spent his weekends refereeing rugby football, an arrangement which Margaret Thatcher said had been set down in tablets of stone. MAN: Denis's dedication to the game was absolute. He was so committed, he would referee every single weekend. But we knew her interest in politics, and we were all old enough to know

that there must be some perfect arrangement that he did his football and she did her politics. And when it mattered, they'd get together. Mrs Thatcher's stamina was impressive. MAN: We trundled into Parliament Square just before midnight, and I said, "You'll be glad after a long day "to get home now after this," and she said, "Oh!" She said, "I've still got a red box to go through,

"and it'll take me at least an hour and three-quarters, "and then I shall be up early to get Denis's breakfast for him." And her dedication to detail extended to herself. WOMAN: She was always as smart as a pin, and you'd go into the Lady Members room, and there would be, very often, Mrs Thatcher ironing her dress for the evening or touching up the collar of her shirt. She was always impeccable. PSYCHEDELIC '60S MUSIC

It was the swinging '60s,

and the mood of voters turned against the Conservative Government.

In 1964, the Labour Party under Harold Wilson won the general election and Margaret Thatcher's career was stalled. MARGARET THATCHER: Frankly, I don't like opposition very much.

I much prefer to have the chance to put one's beliefs into action. In 1965, Edward Heath, an old friend of Margaret Thatcher's, became leader of the Conservative Party and the Opposition. He appointed colleagues to confront ministers in the Government - a shadow cabinet. Would he give her a job? MAN: I always remember Ted Heath ringing me up to say, "We're just...I'm just discussing with Willie Whitelaw" -

who used to be in the Shadow Cabinet - "and we're trying to decide "who ought to be our statutory woman." And that was the way that the women were treated in those days. And I said, "Well, of course it ought to be Margaret Thatcher." And Ted says, "Oh, yes, we've discussed her, "and Willie says that if we take her,

"we'll never be able to get rid of her." Two years later, Edward Heath decided to take the risk. He made her Shadow Fuel and Power Minister in October 1967. Now even busier, Mrs Thatcher relied on a friendly neighbour. I would come in in the evening when Margaret came back,

and we'd sit upstairs and she'd take her shoes off, and have a small whiskey, and I might have a little drink, and we'd chat. MELLOW MUSIC Their conversation frequently turned to Mrs Thatcher's daughter, Carol. She was a teenager

who needed lots of little bits and pieces, so she, you know, often when Margaret had to be out, she would come in and chat and talk. If Margaret couldn't be there, she was quite happy for me to have Carol in my house, and be a sort of surrogate mother. (Crowd chants) We want Ted! The Queen has asked me to form the next government.

In 1970, the Conservative Party won a general election and the new prime minister, Ted Heath, made Margaret Thatcher a cabinet minister -

Secretary of State for Education. Again, a suitable job for a woman. It would be her only experience of heading a government department before she took charge of them all.

She was given a condescending welcome,

and it was here that her distrust of the civil service began. MAN: I think there was an intellectual snobbery about the department. Her degree was in chemistry, which I think was regarded as a slightly downbeat subject. She was like a... a very well-spoken nanny, I think would have...would be my...the way I would sum it up. She was very quick, she was very sharp.

She would probe, interrogate, and she learned very fast.

She would master a brief as quickly as anybody.

She also mastered the art of the politic answer. If you were given the chance to become prime minister, do you think you'd be able to make it? You know, do you think you know enough about politics to be one? (Laughs nervously) My goodness me, it's a pretty penetrating question, isn't it?

I would not wish to be prime minister, dear. I have not enough experience for that job. The only full ministerial position I've held is Minister of Education and Science. Before you could even think of being prime minister,

you would need to have done a good deal more jobs than that.

HEDGER: She was an attractive woman. I remember one inspector,

the chief inspector responsible for art education, was constantly asking for interviews with her. I mean, there was really no need, because, I mean, he really fancied her. BANKS: She was a person who generated a lot of tension around her. She herself is not exactly mercurial, but she was a high-tension individual.

Didn't ask about the last one. I have to approve it. Who takes the first step? MAN: You have to do it. As Secretary of State for Education, Margaret Thatcher was responsible for the policy of turning selective schools into comprehensive, open to children of all abilities. BANKS: She felt obliged to implement it because it was Party and Government policy. She approved more comprehensive school proposals

than any other minister. But she certainly didn't go along with it, privately and personally. In 1971, Mrs Thatcher experienced her first taste of being personally attacked. In order to raise revenue to put into building new schools, she stopped free milk for the over-sevens. This caused an uproar. As so often, the sound bite makes the story.

"Thatcher, milk-snatcher" is a good cry,

and that, I think, harmed her more than it deserved. I am responsible for seeing that there are proper, good school buildings for children in primary schools and secondary schools. There's a demand for that and there's a demand for milk. It wasn't her policy. It was the policy of the Government, it sprang from the Treasury. and like many policies, Then he promptly stepped aside WOMAN:

of the press's disgust and let the whole weight all the more because she was a woman fall upon Margaret Thatcher, from children at primary school and somehow withdrawing milk was symbolic for a woman. contrary to the whole concept It was, you know, associated with women. of the 'milk of human kindness' to carry the can. Margaret Thatcher was left to hate figure. Overnight, she went from media pin-up

for Education, I was at university. WOMAN: When my mother was Minister person around, so I suppose... I wasn't really the most popular (Man laughs) (Laughs) almost public enemy number one. In fact, I'd say...I'd say she was MARGARET THATCHER: However much you manage to smile your way through the demonstrations, you are a little bit worried about them,

not because of their effect on oneself - you can always take that - but because of the effect on your family. It was also having an effect with her colleagues in Parliament. on her standing come to me and say, you know, Quite often, people would to stand the course?" and so on. "Is Margaret alright? Is she going of defending of her at that time. And one had to do quite a bit sacking her, MAN: And Ted contemplated had to go to considerable lengths and I think the then chief whip a catastrophic thing to do. to persuade him that this would be in the Cabinet. "You would have no women and so on. "You have GOT to have one," actually. So Margaret had a narrow escape, Prime Minister made life difficult. Even though she kept her job, the DRAMATIC MUSIC

Ted Heath couldn't see much of her, In the Cabinet, she was placed where on the same side as him, on the flank, and she had difficulty getting into discussions. The Cabinet Secretary was always leaning forward, because he was writing and keeping the minutes and therefore Margaret's eye was not caught very often, if she wanted to enter the discussion. By the end of 1973, the country was in crisis, spiralling cost of oil from abroad hit by the double blow of the and by a miners' strike at home. put the country onto a three-day week Prime Minister Edward Heath

to save energy. to break the miners. He was attempting They would not back down. So, in February 1974, as prime minister Edward Heath exercised his right

at a time of his choice. to call an election elected as Labour prime minister. He lost, and Harold Wilson was In October 1974, called another election, Harold Wilson were defeated for a second time. and Edward Heath and his party to Westminster MAN: When the Tory MPs came back after the second defeat in 1974,

the mood among my colleagues against Mr Heath was incandescent. I put the message back through the whip's office to say that I was very unhappy, and I wasn't alone on this. Ted Heath appointed Margaret Thatcher to speak on economic matters, a job she relished, an opportunity she made the most of. I remember vividly the speech which really set the party talking. She was constantly interrupted, absolutely brilliantly, and she handled it

the whole house was impressed - and at the end, even the other side of the house. a really big player, It was a sign that something, had arrived on the scene. of the Conservative Party But Edward Heath's role as leader was under threat. "We're going to get rid of Mr X," It's all very well saying,

"Who will we put in his place?" but the question then arises, And how did he have the time? a right-wing Tory intellectual Keith Joseph, seen as a leader-in-waiting, with an ill-judged speech, put himself out of the running saying the population was threatened because those least fitted were having too many babies. APPLAUSE It was only after he decided not to run, as you know,

she decided to throw her hat into the ring, and she had a hat to throw into the ring. It was a momentous decision. Despite the fact that no woman had ever led a British political party, and despite her inexperience -

her only cabinet post had been Education - she seized the moment. Meanwhile, the men around Ted Heath ruled themselves out. PRIOR: Whilst he wanted to stand, from standing against him. we felt totally inhibited an extraordinary attitude. For Mrs Thatcher, that was "This is a competitive profession. I mean, you know, govern the country better than X - "If I think I'm better and will "in this particular case, Mr Heath - challenge him?" "then why shouldn't I just as much as I could. Well, others could come forward, I didn't hesitate. The interesting thing was

(Speaks indistinctly)

Her own husband did. he said, "Leader of what, dear?" When she told him, No. No, no, no, no, certainly not. was turned upside down. The Thatcher household Carol came to stay with me because she was working up for exams, and really her mother's house was like Piccadilly Circus. You know, all these quite important people were coming in and out

and discussing things with her mother. Some, who were to become close to Margaret Thatcher, started with reservations. At that time, had there been a male candidate as good or almost as good, I think I would have gone for that male candidate. to vote for her, The campaign had to persuade people tactical reasons. if only for their own that we didn't think TEBBIT: We told them particularly strongly, that she would run just with the view of using her and they came on board to destabilise Ted. of how everyone was going to vote. Meticulous notes were kept that the situation that they saw MAN: 'Camp A' would pretend they really did see was different from the situation in order to mislead the other side.

There was a great deal of that. that was happening all the time, If that's dirty tricks,

and it was rather good fun, I thought. The result was announced in Committee Room 14. The atmosphere in the room, you can probably imagine, was charged. It was expectant. I was one of three or four people who ran along the corridor to where she was in a secluded committee room, and we went in, and - typical woman - she burst into tears and kissed us all. Margaret Thatcher had beaten Ted Heath, the rules required. but without the majority for a week later. A second ballot was set for the leadership, During the campaign she rediscovered her roots. from a very ordinary background All of my ideas were formed

in a small town,

as being just the kind of ideas and I regard them from all walks of life. which appeal to people

as a wife and mother, She also used her appeal to witness a show of family unity. and invited the cameras in MAN: Do you and Mark feel politically? that you have to support your mother don't we, every now and then?, I think we disagree,

MARGARET: Yes, not fundamentally. Not fundamentally, about politics. No. No. the Conservative cause And you support and help during the elections, etc. Well, I don't help during elections. Mark does. Mark's much more active than I am. Carol keeps the house going during elections for us, which is a tremendous help. Nice seeing you. With Ted Heath out of the race, his obvious successor, Willie Whitelaw, was able to stand. with Mrs Thatcher's feminine charms, Attempting to compete

to doing his own washing up. he was reduced APPLAUSE Margaret Thatcher beat him, of the Conservative Party. and became the first female leader My predecessors - Edward Heath, Harold Macmillan, Anthony Eden, Alex Douglas-Home, the great Winston. and then, of course, Wouldn't you think so? It is like a dream, really. I almost wept when they told me. I did weep. I think you're right in camera shot. On the night of her victory,

by events. Margaret Thatcher was swept away TEBBIT: The thing I remember most about that evening was that my wife and I, going into the palace of Westminster,

found a poor lost Mr Thatcher, wondering what had happened to him. (Chuckles) And we decided we simply had to take him for dinner. He'd got forgotten in this... in this great media junket. And Denis Thatcher began his long career as a consort. MAN: How do you feel about it? Delighted. Terribly proud, naturally. Wouldn't you? LAUGHTER

to the enormity of what it had done. Meanwhile, the party woke up had elected a woman as their leader, The Conservative Party the next general election, and if they won she would be prime minister. a woman as its leader at that time, Of all the parties unlikely to have (Chuckles) ..was obviously the one. the Conservative Party was... took the sudden view, A number of colleagues

How are we going to handle this? "Oh, my God, what have we done? "This is uncharted country." in the party voted for her. PARKINSON: None of the heavyweights All the party establishment, almost to a man or woman, went Ted's way. It was widely felt that when she lost the next general election, nature would revert to its course and a man would take over as leader of the party. There was a huge amount of mostly, but not always, unspoken snootiness and male chauvinist piggery. The nickname that we all used for her was 'Hilda'. 'Hilda' was her middle name, and I think 'Hilda' was thought slightly lower middle-class, and so it wasn't even 'Maggie', it wasn't 'Mrs T', it was 'Hilda',

and it was not meant kindly. Mrs Thatcher realised she had to move carefully. Right. Come in. TEBBIT: She was very conscious of the need to carry with her the old guard of the party, those who'd been in Ted Heath's cabinet, and they were her shadow cabinet. You have just received a greeting... At her first party conference, she demonstrated just how different a leader they now had. LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE We would throw out the socialist taxes which inhibit new enterprise. The new Conservative leader began to turn her instincts into policies. MAN: She had some quite simple views about the world.

You know, balancing the books, family values, national pride, patriotism, rule of law, all policemen are honest. This will bring in a conservative society. HOWE: She gathered around her a series of very bright people, and what she was able to do, which perhaps surprised us, was the extent to which she was able to fashion other people's thinking, and use it as her own. What I have to do is to try to gather all the threads together, and crystallise something that our people will say, "Oh, yes, that's right." And you'll get that kind of reflection in the electorate as well. Meanwhile, she was to meet her political soul mate. There was an extraordinary chemistry between Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. It went back to their first meetings in the 1970s.

She found in him the echo of many of her own views on the evils of communism and the need to defeat communism. The Soviet Union remains a closed and... From the beginning, Margaret Thatcher attacked these evils, and in a speech in January 1976, said the Russians were bent on world dominance. She provoked a fierce reaction in the Soviet Union, where she was denounced as the 'Iron Lady',

an insult she was happy to embrace. I stand before you tonight in my 'red star' chiffon evening gown... LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE ..the Iron Lady of the Western world. Mrs Thatcher was confident about her convictions,

but she was prepared to consult professionals about her image. She enlisted the help of advertising guru Tim Bell... ..and television producer Gordon Reece.

He could persuade her to mould her image -

if that's the right expression - in a way which I don't think would have occurred to her. He influenced her over dress, over voice, over the style with which she spoke. Margaret Thatcher was prepared whenever the election was called. The Labour Government was in trouble, and by the end of 1978, strikes were paralysing the country. The garbage collectors, train drivers, even the gravediggers had downed tools. It was dubbed the "winter of discontent". Prime Minister James Callaghan called a general election for May 1979. UPBEAT MUSIC As leader of the Conservatives, Margaret Thatcher would be prime minister if her party won the election. She went into the campaign determined to convince the electorate that she was the right woman for the job. She had a mission. Somewhere ahead lies greatness for our country again. This I know in my heart. She kept saying over and over again, "I'm in business to try and make Britain great again." She really did think she could put us back

to the way when we had the Empire, and we were the great nation of the world. MAN: That election campaign was very different to anything that had happened before. Gordon had done a lot of work in America and had studied how American election campaigns work, and he was very struck by their ability to get terrific print coverage out of photo opportunities, and I think to some extent Gordon invented -

by invented, he stole it from America - but he started the process of the political photo call, the most famous of which probably was her sitting with a calf on her lap. I think she actually found it quite revolting, but, anyway, she did it and it worked very well. It got fantastic coverage. One Labour tabloid turned Tory and took many readers with it.

BELL: She attracted a very large number of people who had never considered voting Conservative or had traditionally supported another point of view. This is the first time in our history that a woman could, after Thursday,

be holding the highest political office in our national life. ROBUST MUSIC

Good evening. Well, it looks like being one of the most exciting election nights ever, with the possibility of a very close result and the prospect of Britain having its first woman prime minister

at the end of the night. By early next morning, May 4, 1979, it was clear that the Conservative Party had won the election. Margaret Thatcher had become Britain's first woman prime minister. At Conservative Party headquarters, the team of people who were to form the core of her private office at No. 10 Downing Street awaited her arrival. The atmosphere in Central Office can only be described as 'electric', and she came in. I mean, she could barely get up the stairs. Everybody was shouting and congratulating her,

and, you know, she was just overwhelmed, really. APPLAUSE Well, it's very exciting and somehow, one is very calm about it, because you have to be. It's very easy to underestimate the amazement of our opponents when we chose a woman leader. Thank you very much. People thought, "You can't win with a woman," and there she was.

She'd won. That day, Britain's 'First Lady' uttered soothing words. Where there is discord, may we bring harmony, where there is error, may we bring truth. I was nearly sick on the spot, because it was so - even by then - it was so untypical of Margaret's attitude.

Where there is doubt, may we bring faith, and where there is despair, may we bring hope. She knew exactly where she wanted to go, and she was prepared to get there quite regardless of people's objections. CHEERING I think people who really change things have to be a bit blinkered. Britain was now facing a radically different future.

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