Thatcher: The Downing Street Years Episode 1 Woman at War

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This series examines the eleven years which Thatcher spent as Prime Minister of the UK. Using interviews with former Cabinet Ministers and Thatcher herself, this series covers important events in Margaret Thatcher’s Premiership, from 1979 to 1990: Thatcher’s economic policy, the Falklands War, the Westland affair in 1986, her diplomatic relationships with then President of the US Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, her election victories of 1983 and 1987, Poll Tax Riots, and her resignation.
Episode 1 Woman at War – Looks at how she rejected the postwar consensus that had governed the country for more than 30 years, and came into conflict with trade unions, the old establishment and even members of her own cabinet. Yet even as the country moved into a crippling recession, the Prime Minister refused to make a U-turn in policy.
Episode 2 Best of Enemies – In her second term in office after victory in 1983, Mrs Thatcher’s position seemed impregnable. Her conduct of the Falkland’s war was popular, she had trounced Arthur Scargill and the striking miners, and had survived the bombing by the IRA of the Grand Hotel in Brighton. But all was not well: Cabinet Secretary Robert Armstrong and ex Chancellor Nigel Lawson are amongst those who recall the emnity between the Prime Minister and her Defence Secretary Michael Heseltine. Thatcher thought of him as “over poweringly ambitious and self centred”, and his handling of the Westland affair in 1986 only served to increase ill feeling between the two, which reached its height with his challenge to her leadership in 1990.
Episode 3 Midnight in Moscow, Twilight in London – Even as Margaret Thatcher strode onto the world stage with Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, and the election campaign gathered pace, her colleagues began to feel disenchanted. Party chairman Norman Tebbit saw her as a “medieval monarch wondering who has his eyes on the crown”, and Sir Geoffrey Howe thought her trumpeted “special relationship” with Reagan was at the expense of relations with Europe. Nigel Lawson claimed she distrusted her colleagues, and she, in turn, thought of him as “a man of many talents … but great drawbacks”. As the economy worsened and problems with the poll tax began to loom, the prime minister found herself even more isolated behind the newly erected Downing Street security gates.
Episode 4 Wielding the Knife – As the Conservative Party began to turn against her leadership, the Prime Minister showed no willingness to stand down. Although there was no clear successor, colleagues were beginning to view Thatcher as an electoral liability. She speaks of what she regarded as their disloyalty. “What hurts most of all is that this was treachery,” she says of her enforced resignation, “treachery with a smile on its face.” Naturally this charge is denied by her former colleagues.