Captain Moonlight's Notebook: No thanks for the memoirs

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The Independent Online
NOBBLED by Maastricht, shackled with a recession, dented by ministerial scandal, winded by back-bench revolts in the House of Commons; what more is left to weaken John Major? Baroness Thatcher's memoirs, of course.

Captain Moonlight has learned that publication of the first of three volumes - covering her years as Prime Minister from 4 May, 1979 until her ouster on 28 November, 1990 - is timed for maximum hysteria on the eve of the Conservative Party Conference in Blackpool on 5 October. Largely 'ghosted' by Robin Harris, 40, formerly deputy head of her Downing Street policy unit, the first volume will certainly cause a sensation, not just because of its timing. Her publishers, HarperCollins, wanted it to appear in October because party conferences promote sales of political memoirs. They are also the best places to cause a political stir.

The size of Lady Thatcher's advance has never been made public, though pounds 2m has been mentioned. Her son Mark negotiated the deal.

My informants tell me she remains loyal to the party but that her references to John Major will comprise 'deniable sideswipes'. These, I'm told, are statements that can be read either way - neutral to some, critical of the Prime Minister to others. She defends her corner strongly and puts Lord Lawson on the rack for the collapse of her economic miracle. Volume two, not expected for another year, deals with her upbringing and the formation of her political ideas. Volume three is still a pipe dream - a sort of post-Downing Street 'Thoughts of Mrs T'.