Thatcher's Trial

180 Days that Created a Conservative Icon

by Kwasi Kwarteng

Subject categories
ISBNs
  • 9781610395625
  • 9781610395632
In 1981, Margaret Thatcher faced the greatest challenge of her premiership. After nearly two years in office, the British economy was in a bad condition; unemployment had reached levels not seen since the 1930s; the public finances were in the worst condition since 1945. The Economist memorably describes her on 21st March, 1981:

"Mrs Thatcher is emerging from her second year of office as one of the most extraordinary leaders in modern politics. Her country is in deep recession. Her Cabinet is not so much divided as bewildered. Her once adoring backbenchers are either mutinous or glum. And she has speaking out against her almost every traditional Tory interest: private industry, the City, the counties, the universities, the senior civil service, the ‘defence' establishment....

"Yet she seems impervious to it all...."


She faced a resurgent social democratic liberalism, and by common consent had just a few months to save her premiership. Instead, in less than 180 days, she reinvented conservatism, showed a ruthless willingness to cut the traditionalists from her government, and promoted a new technocratic generation of fervent right-wingers who would be devoted to her until her final days.

Thatcher's Trial is a short focused history, an investigation of a slice in time. It is also a study in the nature of personality and the ability of individuals to shape events in politics and history. Its narrative is largely drawn from newspapers, archival material from both the Churchill Archive at Churchill College, Cambridge, where Margaret Thatcher's papers have been deposited, and at the National Archive. The memoirs of Thatcher's contemporaries such as Nigel Lawson, Norman Tebbit, Michael Heseltine and others also form an invaluable resource of primary material for this incisive history.

Thatcher's Trial shows how, in a dazzlingly short time, Thatcher transformed the Conservative Party from one that belonged to Westminster, The Guards and Whites Club, to an utterly unrecognizable institution that opened conservatism to the masses.

  • PublicAffairs; November 2015
  • ISBN: 9781610395632
  • Read online, or download in secure ePub format
  • Title: Thatcher's Trial
  • Author: Kwasi Kwarteng
  • Imprint: PublicAffairs
Subject categories
ISBNs
  • 9781610395625
  • 9781610395632

In The Press

“A largely positive but not uncritical reassessment…Readers on this side of the pond who are puzzled by the impassioned esteem and disdain in which Thatcher is held in Britain will find much of value in this short but illuminating study.” —Kirkus Reviews


About The Author

Kwasi Kwarteng was born in London in 1975. He earned a PhD in History from Cambridge University in 2000. Kwasi was elected as the Conservative Member of Parliament for Spelthorne in 2010 and sat on the House of Commons Transport Select Committee from 2010 to 2013; he currently sits on the House of Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee. His first book, Ghosts of Empire, was published to critical acclaim by Bloomsbury in the UK and PublicAffairs in US in August, 2011. His second book, War and Gold, was published in May, 2014.

Subject categories
ISBNs
  • 9781610395625
  • 9781610395632