12/17/2019

The Iron Lady Alone

"But even these policies would not have led to her downfall, had not she become less magnanimous toward her most important colleagues. She hectored them and even belittled them in cabinet when they disagreed. She rejected the very sound political advice of Mark Lennox-Boyd, her parliamentary private secretary, to kick her longest serving cabinet member and arch pro-European Geoffrey Howe to the House of Lords, bestowing on him a rarely granted inheritable title of Viscount. Increasingly resentful of her manner as well as her policies, he resigned from cabinet at the time to cause maximum political damage, spoke against her in his resignation speech in the House of Commons, and encouraged a challenge to her leadership.

The leadership challenge in November of 1990 is the most riveting portion of the book. Thatcher was done in principally by having become the greatest leader in the West. She spent most of her time in the run up to the challenge and even in the pivotal weeks of the campaign dealing with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the reunification of Germany, which with her memory of World War II she viewed with some disquiet, although she did not ultimately oppose it. Alongside George H.W. Bush, she was at the spear point of the free world in opposing Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in August of 1990. Yet, because of her focus on geopolitics, she failed to tend to the jungle that is always politics, particularly within her own party. Her example here proves the old adage: The opposition to the prime minister sits on the benches across from her, but the enemy, however, is those that sit behind her."