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UK Politics

Thatcher: I wish I'd never gone into politics

If she'd known of effect on family she would not have become MP

Baroness Thatcher told friends she would have never entered politics had she known the devastating impact it would have on her family, according to a new book. The former Tory prime minister confided in Sir Michael Spicer that she wouldn't go into politics because of "what it does to your family".

The revelation comes in a collection of Sir Michael's diaries, which purports to give an insider's view of the Thatcher era, during which he served as a junior minister in several departments.

During a meeting in her Chelsea office in April 1995, with her husband, Sir Denis, Lady Thatcher reflected on her time in power and expressed regret at the impact on her husband and children.

Sir Michael recalls going to see Lady Thatcher at her "grand offices" off the King's Road. "She is all gung-ho about attacking the moves towards a federal Europe," he writes, in extracts serialised by The Sunday Telegraph. "She says she doesn't want to make a speech about Europe at all this year. Then as I get up to leave she says, "If I had my time again, I wouldn't go into politics because of what it does to your family."

The incident gives an insight into the mind of the former prime minister, just five years after she was ousted from No 10.

Friends have long reflected on the distant relationship between Lady Thatcher and her children – twins Mark and Carol.

The Sunday Telegraph reports that Carol can "go for months without visiting", despite her mother's dementia, documented in Meryl Streep's Oscar-winning film The Iron Lady. Sir Mark, who lives in Spain, visits London to see his mother every four to six weeks, the paper adds.

According to The Spicer Diaries, the former prime minister soon became disillusioned with politics, telling Sir Michael in the Commons in February 1991: "I hate coming to this place now." The book also reflects on the Falklands War, the Brighton bomb and the period in 1990 when she was forced to quit as PM.

The suggestion that Lady Thatcher wished she had never entered politics will dismay many in the Conservative party, who still reflect on her time in office as a high point in the Tories' history.

Despite garnering critical acclaim, some questioned the timing of The Iron Lady film. David Cameron said in January: "It's really a film about ageing, dementia, rather than a wonderful prime minister. My sense was a great piece of acting, a really staggering piece of acting, but a film I wish they could have made another day."