Two years into the first term of office and things weren’t looking good for Thatcher. The monetarist economic experiment had resulted in a huge drop in manufacturing investment, high interest rates, a massive leap in unemployment and a wiping out of the Tory vote in northern cities. Then there were the riots of 1981 that shook Brixton, Toxteth, Moss Side and other urban centres. For years we were told that Thatcher was unmoved, like a rock and full of purpose. But even at the time, it was clear there were plots within her own cabinet to remove her before the next election and now we know she had moments of deep uncertainty.
At the 1981 Tory conference – Thatcher gave one of her virtuoso performances that we all hated at the time and frankly, I don’t feel any better about it now. Faced with economic collapse, she informed us that there was no alternative and she was not for turning. The blue rinse brigade before her rose and cheered.