Happy returns to No 10 for Thatcher's 85th birthday

Lord Heseltine is not on the list. John Major is out of the country, and Nick Clegg has "another engagement". But Lord Howe, whose resignation speech ended Margaret Thatcher's reign in Downing Street, will today be a guest of honour at the former prime minister's 85th birthday party in Downing Street.

About 150 ministers, former ministers, MPs, and peers with careers stretching back over the last 40 years have been invited to the reception at No 10 – the largest gathering of Thatcherite ministers in Downing Street since they themselves sat around the cabinet table more than 20 years ago. The bash was announced by David Cameron to cheers at the Conservative Party conference earlier this month.

Lord Heseltine, who brought Mrs Thatcher’s premiership to an end when he stood against her for the leadership, was left off the guestlist which was co-ordinated between her office and Downing Street.

“I don’t think he’s on the list,” said a spokesman for Baroness Thatcher, adding: “But most of her former cabinet ministers have been invited.”

That includes Lord Howe, Mrs Thatcher’s then deputy, whose famous resignation speech accused her of being like a cricket captain “sending your opening batsmen to the crease, only for them to find that their bats have been broken by the team captain”.

Last night he hinted that they had since patched up their differences. “I went to her 80th birthday party and she came to mine,” he said. “That’s all there is to say really.”

Among those attending will be Leon Brittan, who was forced to resign along side Lord Heseltine in the Westland crisis, Michael Howard, Sir Bernard Ingham – the Alastair Campbell of his day who once described a cabinet minister as “semi-detached” – and Lord Carrington, Baroness Thatcher’s first Foreign Secretary.

Nick Clegg, the current deputy Prime Minister, whose office is a minute’s walk from the reception, will not be there. A spokesman said he had another engagement at the time: “To be honest it’s a Tory affair with quite a limited invite list. It would be slightly odd for someone who had no real connection with her to just bowl up.”

Also missing will be Sir John Major, who succeeded Baroness Thatcher as Prime Minister. A spokeswoman for Sir John said the date clashed with a previous overseas engagement: “Very sadly he has had to decline as it is the one night this month when he is out of the country. I’m sure it will be a lovely party. He will be there in spirit.”

Other notable absentees include Chris Patten, who is in Japan on business, and Lord Tim Bell, her image adviser when she was in Downing Street. “Sadly,” said Lord Bell, “when I got the invitation I already had a prior engagement so had to decline. I’m very disappointed not to be there as this will be the first time that David has invited her back in an official capacity.”

The media will be kept at bay. No photographers or journalists will be allowed inside.

A Conservative spokesman said: “The idea is it will be an informal affair with just a few words from the Prime Minister. Perhaps they’ll sing her happy birthday.”

Baroness Thatcher’s actual birthday is today. She plans to spend it quietly with friends, her spokesman said.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350-£400

£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350 - £400 per ...

HR Manager - HR Generalist / Sole in HR

£30000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - HR Generalis...

Business Analyst - Banking - London - £350-£400

£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: Business Analyst - Banking - People Change - Lond...

HR Manager - Milton Keynes - £50,000 + package

£48000 - £50000 per annum + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Shared...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home