Thatcher details path to betrayal 1/36point
John Rentoul examines the excerpts from Lady Thatcher's latest book
John Rentoul is chief political commentator for The Independent on Sunday, and visiting professor at Queen Mary, University of London, where he teaches contemporary history. Previously he was chief leader writer for The Independent. He has written a biography of Tony Blair, whom he admired more at the end of his time in office than he did at the beginning.
Monday 22 May 1995
The second volume of Baroness Thatcher's memoirs, The Path to Power, covers her life before she became Prime Minister but ends with a section called "Beginning Again" giving her present political views.
Central to the betrayal is John Major's alleged selling out of the nation's interests, expressed by his desire to be "at the heart of Europe". She says she knew he would take a slightly more emollient line, "but I was not prepared for the speed with which the position I adopted would be reversed".
The new stance saw events move "swiftly, and as far as I was concerned, in the wrong direction". Now Britain faces a serious threat to national sovereignty in next year's Maastricht renegotiations: "The problem with John Major's alternative approach was that, although it initially won plaudits, it left the fundamental problems unresolved."
To the charge that she allowed Mr Major, as Chancellor, to persuade her to go into the European exchange rate mechanism in 1990, she says she never intended that to be a prelude to joining a single European currency - "quite the contrary".
As soon as she left office, she appears to have changed her mind about Britain's membership of the ERM. By mid-1991 she says she was "bending over backwards" to avoid publicly criticising Britain's continued membership, which she thought was "unnecessarily worsening the recession by a monetary overkill resulting from an obsession with the exchange rate".
She says she gave Mr Major "the benefit of the doubt for as long as possible" before she allowed her frustrations to become known. Mr Major's European policy, which has "not even" reunited the Conservative Party, which was one of the main reasons for replacing her.
And she is scornful about Mr Major's broader foreign policy. "The special relationship with the United States has been allowed to cool to near freezing point," while Russia has been encouraged to believe that it will only win respect in the West "if they behave like the old Soviet Union". She attacks the Government for allowing Serbian aggression to go unpunished. "There is hardly a moral principle or a practical rule which has not been broken."
Lady Thatcher also dismisses the Government's domestic policies. Britain is "moving rapidly in the wrong direction" in social affairs and law and order. "The family is clearly in some sort of crisis ... crime has risen." She backs a switch from welfare spending to crime prevention and detection.
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