Author Archive

Tom Lubbock

Dr Tom Lubbock is a lecturer in politics at Magdalen College, Oxford.

Robert Saunders is co-editor (together with Ben Jackson) of Making Thatcher’s Britain. He teaches History at Jesus College, Oxford,  and Politics at Lincoln College. I really enjoyed Making Thatcher’s Britain. Can I start by asking a biographical question about Thatcher before we get to the book — how did she come to lead her party in 1975? Was it a result of a careful campaign or happenstance?  There was a degree of good fortune to the affair. If Ted Heath had resigned a year earlier, or if Keith Joseph had run in 1975, Thatcher would not have been a candidate. She won partly because of a brilliant campaign organisation, and partly because she was the only one willing to challenge such a dominant leader. But …

In 1975 Margaret Thatcher defeated Edward Heath for the Leadership of the Conservative Party. Both have a firm claim to be the Prime Minister with the humblest origin. Both resigned after failing to defeat a challenge to their leadership on the first ballot. In the words of Malcolm Rifkind, both were ‘strong-willed, stubborn and convinced of their own rectitude’ (Thatcher’s most famous quality but also one that Tony Blair cited in his 2005 eulogy for Ted Heath). But these similarities are as tittle tattle compared to the fact that as prime minister both faced the same governing challenge, the same kernel of the same problem: how to govern a country that some said had become ungovernable. This is where their fortunes diverge sharply. How did the figure of Margaret Thatcher so completely come to overshadow that of her predecessor as Conservative Leader? That is the subject of this podcast by Dr Tom Lubbock and Gillian Peele.