The one adviser steadfast in his support: Margaret Thatcher's recollections of a turbulent decade at the helm of the Conservative Party and Britain are published today: Marriage

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The Independent Online
WHILE Baroness Thatcher admits she could never have survived 11 years as Prime Minister without her husband Denis, the contrast with many political colleagues could not be more marked, writes Patricia Wynn Davies.

Sir Denis ensured she was never alone in a lonely job. 'What a man. What a husband. What a friend,' she writes. A man with 'very definite ideas', he was a fund of shrewd advice and penetrating comment, which he sensibly saved for his wife rather than the outside world.

A number of the men who crossed her path in politics exhibited the reverse - 'precisely those characteristics which they attribute to women: vanity and an inability to make tough decisions'.

In the eyes of the 'wets' she was not just a woman but 'that woman'. Of a different sex and a different class, she offended on many counts.

There are 'certain kinds of men', moreover, who cannot abide working with a woman, she adds. They were prepared to make every allowance for the weaker sex, but if a woman sought no special privileges and to be judged solely on what she did, it was found 'gravely and unforgivably' disorienting.

'My experience is that a group of men sitting around a table like little better than their own voices and that nothing is more distasteful than the possibility that a conclusion can be reached without all of them having the chance to read from their briefs,' she writes.

(Photograph omitted)