Simon Barnes had an article in last week’s TIMES on Mrs Thatcher’s lack of interest in sport, and the same newspaper had various small anecdotes of our first woman Prime Minister. They reminded me of how Mrs Thatcher, with no interest in chess, was persuaded to open the London-Leningrad KvK match.
“Why should I do this?” Mrs T asked.
“Because tomorrow your photo will be on the front page of every newspaper in the Soviet Union.” was the convincingreply.
Once I sat beside Ian Gow MP before he was due to address a meeting in Belfast. He volunteered an explanation of how the Anglo-Irish Agreement (which prompted his ministerial resignation) would have not got past him had he continued in his role as Political Secretay to Mrs T, had he not moved on to become Housing Minister. Gow gave 3 reasons –
a) the trumpteted constitutional offerings from the Republic of Ireland were nothing new;
b) the promises of “improved security cooperation” were worthless; and
c) the deal would not prove “generally acceptable to the people of Northern Ireland as a whole”.
Of course, Mrs T was coming under enormous pressure from Geoffrey Howe and Douglas Hurd.
Mrs T’s autobiography contained a sentence (written by her or perhaps another) which led observers to conclude that Mrs T no longer felt warmly of the AIA.
Perhaps so. She went off the Common Market aka EU as well.