‘Barmy but brilliant’: Visions of Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher provoked more comment than any British prime minister since Winston Churchill. Here’s a random selection of quotes about her…

The Tory view

‘She is so beautiful, quite bewitching, as Eva Peron must have been.’ – Alan Clark

‘The danger when Margaret speaks without thinking is that she says what she thinks.’ – Norman St John Stevas

‘Margaret Thatcher categorised her ministers into those she could put down, those she could break down and those she could wear down.’ – Kenneth Baker

‘As a teenager discovering my sexuality I joined the Tory party because you go into the party that’s most camp. Margaret Thatcher was beyond camp.’ – Ivan Massow

‘Mrs Thatcher never read a newspaper. She did not think she had the time.’ – Kenneth Clarke

‘Margaret Thatcher was at all times intensely and admirably practical, and never more so than in her brilliant trick, as she sat down to the dinner table, of deftly and unobtrusively hitching up any parts of her attire, within decency, that might otherwise have got unnecessarily creased.’ – Nigel Lawson

‘She was barmy but brilliant.’ – Kenneth Baker

‘I would give my eye-teeth to become as successful a prime minister as she was.’ – David Cameron

The Labour view

‘How did she get elected prime minister? Because Mrs Thatcher – bandbox neat, with Saatchi & Saatchi smoothly organizing fields and factories, cars and calves around her – was such a contrast to the winter of discontent, the chaos, the disorder and mess.’ – Shirley Williams

‘The great she-elephant, she who must be obeyed, the Catherine the Great of Finchley.’ – Denis Healey

‘The thing about Mrs Thatcher was that there was a character to assassinate.’ – Gerald Kaufman

‘In Margaret Thatcher’s Britain, we are all on our own.’ – Roy Hattersley

‘Mrs Thatcher has added the diplomacy of Alf Garnett to the economics of Arthur Daley.’ – Denis Healey

‘Mrs Thatcher once spoke about the enemy within; she has now become the enemy abroad.’ – Gerald Kaufman

‘We are all Thatcherite now.’ – Peter Mandelson

‘I admire the fact that she’s a conviction politician. I am a conviction politician like her.’ – Gordon Brown


The view from abroad

‘Margaret Thatcher is David Owen in drag.’ – Rhodesia Herald

‘Cette femme Thatcher! Elle a les yeux de Caligule, mais elle a la bouche de Marilyn Monroe.’ – François Mitterrand

‘I am not prepared to accept the economics of a housewife.’ – Jacques Chirac

‘The difference between us is that I am living after Winston Churchill and she comes from the time before Winston Churchill.’ – Helmut Kohl

The cultural view

‘She has got eyes like a psychotic killer, but a voice like a gentle person. It’s a bit confusing.’ – Adrian Mole (via Sue Townsend)

‘Thatcher was loathsome, repulsive in almost every way with her odious suburban gentility and sentimental, saccharine patriotism.’ – Jonathan Miller

‘Mrs Thatcher is the most obviously repellent manifestation of the most obviously arrogant, divisive and dangerous British government since the war.’ – Dennis Potter

‘We weren’t children of Thatcher; we hated her.’ – Alan McGee

‘The symbol of every rotten selfish vindictive side of the human condition she could rake up and cultivate, like an evil scientist nurturing a test tube of greed and releasing it across the whole planet.’ – Mark Steel

‘Typical of the people who go to the Chichester Festival.’ – Alan Bennett

The media view

‘I don’t want to have anything to do with Mrs Thatcher.’ – Robert Maxwell

‘There’s a lot to be said for the old broad: she makes you laugh.’ – Brian Walden

The sportsman’s view

‘I used to be Labour, but when I started making money, I started to appreciate just how good Margaret Thatcher and her policies were to me.’ – Ian Wright

And a view of her husband

‘Denis Thatcher was a decent old cove.’ – Neil Kinnock



One thought on “‘Barmy but brilliant’: Visions of Thatcher

  1. A great collection. The Alan Bennett one made me chuckle (I rather enjoy his inverted snobbery), and Ian Wright proves how easily footballers’ heads are turned by extra cash in their pocket.


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