New 30-year rule documents give insights into Thatcher’s Downing Street, including…

1) …The Miners’ Strike


‘Margaret Thatcher planned to mobilise hundreds of troops and considered declaring a state of emergency at the height of the 1984 miners’ strike, previously secret files reveal. Another option was to switch to a three-day working week after ministers warned her that the lights could go out in Britain, according to the National Archives…The files reveal that plans were drawn up for soldiers to transport food and coal. It was suggested that 4,500  military drivers would be needed.’ – Daily Mail

  • MI5 watched union leaders suspected of smuggling Soviet cash – The Independent
  • Argentina suspected of forging a ‘taped row’ between Thatcher and Reagan – Daily Mail

2) …Libya’s threats before the Yvonne Fletcher murder

‘Libya threatened Britain the night before the policewoman Yvonne Fletcher was shot dead outside the Libyan embassy, newly released documents reveal.  Just hours before the murder, British officials were warned of violent repercussions if an anti-Gaddafi protest outside the embassy was allowed to go ahead.’ – The Times (£)

3) …John Redwood’s fairytale of knights, peasants and the Stock Exchange

Redwood John Oct 11‘Mr Redwood describes the old cliques that used to dominate the City as knights in a castle, feasting, jousting and pillaging at the expense of the peasants who live outside. Following the Big Bang, the knights would lower the drawbridge and allow the peasants to share the wealth being generated. According to the tale, the government asks the knights: “Would you mind very much just lowering your drawbridge a little so that a few other people can get into your castle and enjoy some of the feasting and jousting? And do you think it would be possible if you could just lower a few of your taxes and not do quite as much pillaging?”’ – FT

4) …The Cabinet considered partition for Northern Ireland

‘The British cabinet was so pessimistic about the chance for peace in Northern Ireland it discussed repartitioning along religious lines…The cabinet decided, however, that the proposal was not an acceptable solution, with Jim Prior, NI secretary, noting: “We might possibly be driven to such draconian measures if we were faced with imminent civil war, or as a result of civil war, but I do not believe that we have reached that stage.”’ – FT

>Today: Comment: Theresa Villiers MP: Where next after Haas?

5) …Some lessons on cutting for Cameron

‘If David Cameron thinks he has had a hard time getting his ministers to agree to spending cuts, he can take some comfort from the fact the same frustrations were felt 30 years earlier by the woman many believe was the Conservatives’ greatest leader…The documents reveal that her bitterest battle was not with a Conservative party left-winger, but with her right-wing friend and ally, Norman Tebbit.’ – FT

6)…and the Iron Lady’s hairdressing appointments

‘Margaret Thatcher had a hair appointment every three days to maintain her coiffed blonde locks, according to newly-released files. Her appointments diary for 1984 reveals that she had 118 styling sessions in a year to ensure she looked her best when meeting world leaders.’ – Daily Mail


Immigration becomes a middle class concern, too

‘Alarm about immigration is soaring among the middle classes, a study revealed yesterday. As Britain prepares for a new influx from Bulgaria and Romania, the number seeing immigration as the most serious issue facing the country has risen by half in a year. It signals a new shift in public opinion. While the lower-paid and those in low-skilled jobs have long seen competition from migrants as a threat to their jobs and earnings, higher earners have been assumed to benefit.’ – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Conservatives should stop being quite so frightened of immigrants

Business leaders expect more growth in 2014

GROWTH Krieg‘Four-fifths of leaders of Britain’s largest companies expect their business to pick up over the coming year, but concerns remain about household budgets, productivity and political risk as the general election approaches. Ipsos Mori’s annual “captains of industry” survey, which has been running since 1981, found that 93 per cent of the 105 chairmen, chief executives and senior directors questioned thought the economy would improve over the next 12 months.’ – FT

Backbench fears over Cameron’s 100-year prison term plan

CAMERON EU fence‘So-called ‘whole-life’ terms, which condemn the most dangerous serial killers to die behind bars, could be replaced by ‘US-style, 100-year terms’. But crucially, unlike many states in the US, the new sentences in Britain will come with an automatic review – potentially allowing murderers who would otherwise have stayed in jail to be released back on to the streets. The proposal has infuriated Tory backbenchers. Last night Peter Bone said: ‘The trouble with 100-year sentences is they can be reviewed and reduced and people could be let out. For certain people, life should mean life…’ – Daily Mail

>Today: ToryDiary: David Cameron, human shield

>Yesterday: WATCH: Cameron – “Life should mean life”

Michael Gove rejects myths about World War One

‘The First World War may have been a uniquely horrific war, but it was also plainly a just war…The ruthless social Darwinism of the German elites, the pitiless approach they took to occupation, their aggressively expansionist war aims and their scorn for the international order all made resistance more than justified. And the war was also seen by participants as a noble cause. Historians have skilfully demonstrated how those who fought were not dupes but conscious believers in king and country, committed to defending the western liberal order.’ – Michael Gove, Daily Mail

  • Meanwhile, the FT draws the conclusion that nationalism is dangerous – FT
  • Might tensions between China and Japan boil over into World War Three? – Max Hastings, Daily Mail

>Yesterday: Stephen Edwards on Comment: The Achilles heel of Gove’s education revolution

Troop cuts cost Britain influence in NATO

NATO‘Britain is losing clout within Nato because of a plan to leave far fewer troops in Afghanistan from next year than other key alliance members, the former head of the military says. David Cameron was urged to commit more soldiers than the 200 already pledged to help to develop the Afghan security forces in 2015, provided that a key security deal between the Afghan Government and the US is signed.’ – The Times (£)

Pickles raises Right to Buy discount to 70 per cent

‘Council tenants are to be offered discounts of up to 70 per cent when buying their home in a bid to get thousands more on the property ladder. Communities minister Eric Pickles will today outline a shake-up of the Right to Buy scheme, relaunched by PM David Cameron 18 months ago.’ – The Sun (£)

BBC under fire for lefty takeover of Today programme

BBC‘The Today programme on Radio 4 faced criticism from across the political spectrum after it gave editorial control to cult musician P J Harvey, who filled the show with polemics from left-wing activists and bizarre musical interludes. Radical journalist John Pilger was given air-time to attack David Cameron and Barack Obama, and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is wanted for sex offences in Sweden, was hailed for his ‘great courage’ and given a Thought for the Day slot, in which he attacked State control.’ – Daily Mail

Drug companies criticised for keeping negative research secret

‘Patients are at risk of being prescribed drugs wrongly because doctors are denied access to research on how effective they are, MPs have warned. In a sharp criticism of drug companies, the Public Accounts Committee has expressed its “extreme concern” over a refusal to publish the results of all the trials they carry out on medicines. About half of all clinical trials are never published, with results favourable to a drug about twice as likely to be made public as negative ones.’ – The Times (£)

Trust in institutions is collapsing, warns Ashdown

‘Trust in society’s key institutions is “crumbling into dust”, according to Nick Clegg’s election supremo. Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon, the former Liberal Democrat leader who is running the party’s 2015 campaign, has painted a grim picture of national insecurity. He said that bankers “have their fingers in the till” and journalists and politicians were rightly criticised. However, he reserved his toughest comments for the BBC and the NHS.’ – The Times (£)

News in brief