In 1975, when Keith Joseph dropped out of the race for the Tory leadership and his campaign manager stepped into his place, almost no one took it seriously. She was ‘precisely the sort of candidate… who ought to be able to stand, and lose, harmlessly’ said the Economist. Only one publication in Britain backed her then, and our endorsement is reprinted in our supplement. The values she represented are the ones The Spectator has championed for decades: small government, low taxes and personal freedom. And a preference for those who enter politics to do something, rather than be someone.
Mrs T admired The Spectator’s writers so much that she hired two of them: Patrick Cosgrave, author of the initial endorsement, and Ferdinand Mount, who was then being described by Graham Greene as ‘the best parliamentary journalist since Taper’. Our writers tended to understand what was happening to Britain, while so many on the left were baffled.
Then, as now, The Spectator was not a Tory fanzine. Our allegiance was to independence of thought and elegance of expression — a sample of which we offer in these pages. Both Cosgrave and Mount are -represented, along with Lady Thatcher’s future -biographer, Charles Moore, and a man she attempted to have fired: Alexander Chancellor.
We have also published a fuller selection in an ebook, including a remarkable piece by a hospital -registrar and a psychology lecturer who discovered that Thatcher was remembered even -by people who had forgotten their own names. Thatcher, they wrote, had become -synonymous with British culture. No publication charted British culture in those extraordinary years better than The Spectator.
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