US right toasts Thatcher's 70th

RUPERT CORNWELL

Washington

What with Irish-American pickets across the street yelling "Thatcher murderer", flashlights popping and a mix of celebrities that included the US Speaker Newt Gingrich, Nancy Reagan and Barbara Walters, she might still have been the resident of Number 10.

In fact it was just a belated 70th birthday thrash - but as far as the American right is concerned, Margaret Thatcher was, is, and will for ever be Prime Minister. In Britain these days, only by savaging her successor, John Major, can she gain attention; in the United States, her very presence sets conservative hearts atremble. And so it was at Union Station here on Monday night.

Six hundred guests came to pay their devotions, paying $1,000 (pounds 600) a plate and $15,000 a table for the privilege of being in the same room as the co-slayer of the Evil Empire. The Philip Morris tobacco group, "proud sponsors of this event", reportedly produced another $1m, leaving the US-based Margaret Thatcher Foundation ahead by $2m or more.

But most of all they wanted to hear the Iron Lady, and through her to reach out to Ronald Reagan, her partner in doctrine and deeds, patron saint of the New Republican Revolution, but now largely confined by Alzheimer's disease to his home in California. "Reagan and Thatcher", gushed Barbara Walters, are "names linked together for ever, like Rogers and Astaire." There was even a statue of them under construction in Tirana, Albania, Ms Walters said, named simply "The Liberators".

Nancy paid tribute from both the Reagans: "Dear Margaret, you have been so much to us in so many ways. You were and are America's finest friend. Ronnie and I will cherish your friendship always." As she ended her speech, the 40th president appeared to make a toast in images flashed on video screens on either side of the podium.

Baroness Thatcher replied in kind, describing Mr Reagan as "the second- most important man" and speaking of her pride at being the smaller half of the Reagan-Thatcher relationship. It was "his decision to call the Soviet Union by its proper name, the evil empire," that helped "bring that evil empire crashing down".

And so the evening ended, drenched in nostalgia, a cross between the Lord Mayor's banquet and Oscars night in Hollywood. There was a musical interlude too, a medley of hits from Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber, the bards of the Thatcher era. Naturally, they played Memory, but not Don't Cry For Me, Argentina. Even nostalgia has its limits.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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 General

Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Service Engineers - Doncaster / Hull

£27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...

Recruitment Genius: Employability / Recruitment Adviser

£23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...