In October 1980, Margaret Thatcher had been Prime Minister of the UK for over one and a half years.
At that time, things were not going well for her government: Inflation was rising. Unemployment was rising. Voters were about to question whether Margaret Thatcher could really bring the promised positive changes to Great Britain.
The Efficiency Unit
In the summer of 1980, she fought a battle with the ministers of the spending departments. This battle came up because Thatcher’s spending policy was rather different from that of the permanent secretaries. In her attempt to bring more efficiency to the British government – an Efficiency Unit was created under her direction –, she found no supporters in the ranks of the permanent secretaries.
During an unpromising meeting in May 1980 with her permanent secretaries, Mrs Thatcher whispered to her Cabinet Secretary, Robert Armstrong, ’They are all against me, Robert. I can feel it.’
This is only one example for what was to become one of the most turbulent summers of her time as Prime Minister.
The summer of 1980
The whole summer of 1980 being destined for controversial statements, Margaret Thatcher told the Press in June 1980 that ’The day that I am not causing controversy, I shall not be doing very much.’ Furthermore, the Thatcher government had announced to reduce the number of civil servants by more than 70.000, a decision which only underlined the differences between both sides.
Margaret Thatcher was confronted with cabinet members doubting her style of leadership and, perhaps most alarming, her economic policy that was ready to take the risk of high inflation and unemployment in order to implement her monetarist economic approach.
During that time, some Conservative and Labour politicians were counting the days until Margaret Thatcher would be forced to resign because, in their eyes, Thatcher’s policies had already failed.
But what made her, especially during this period but also in countless other periods in her life, stay the course?
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