It's the exclusive interview that reveals the true Denis

In honour of the late Denis Thatcher, I am publishing an interview with him which took place when he was alive, but which he did not want to be published in his lifetime. In fact, he did not want it to be published after his death either. However, as there isn't much he can do about it now, I think we can safely go for it.

Interviewer: Sir Denis, the conventional view of you has always been as a bit of a buffer, a golf club bore who hung around Margaret while she ruled the world, the chap who brought a breath of normality and ordinariness to her life.

Denis: Yes, I...

Interviewer: What is extraordinary about this is the ease with which the world has swallowed this picture. We are give to understand that you, an ordinary businessman, married an extraordinary politician, and were then content to remain in the shadows, unknown, uninvestigated, unexamined.

Denis: Yes of course, that's because...

Interviewer: And yet this picture doesn't stand up to a moment's real scrutiny. What people keep forgetting is that you weren't a nobody at all. You were a highly successful businessman long before you married Margaret Hilda Roberts. You moved out of your family business and into oil - the giant Burmah firm, I believe - and all the accounts say that you were a millionaire long before Margaret starting moving up the ranks.

Denis: Well, perhaps I...

Interviewer: It doesn't make sense, does it? One moment you are the power house in the marriage, the man with the clout, the money and the know-how, married to a pretty little nobody from Grantham - the next moment she is the battle-axe moving up to the front line and you are a nobody.

Denis: Mmm, well, you see...

Interviewer: It's a complete reversal of roles. Psychologically it's impossible. It just doesn't happen in real life that a powerful mover and shaker marries a little somebody and immediately abdicates all his power to her. Even Eva Peron had to wait till her husband died. So I think we have to look for some other explanation for why overnight you turned from being something in one of CP Snow's power-driven novels to more like a character out of Dad's Army.

Denis: Oh, look here...

Interviewer: And there is only one explanation that really covers the known facts. That you were the power behind the throne. That you created Margaret Thatcher. That she did whatever you told her to do. You were Svengali, she was Trilby.

Denis: I think this is absolutely...

Interviewer: You never abdicated at all. You never really changed your character. You always remained the power broker, the wheeler-dealer. All you did was to move into the shadows. You spotted early on that you could achieve all you wanted to do by getting her to reach for it. We shall probably never know how you did it. Hypnosis, perhaps? Brainwashing? Sheer strength of personality? But you did it, and thereafter you kept out of the limelight and adopted the persona of an old buffer while she did your bidding. Sometimes she came on a bit strong and even you were worried that she was being a bit of a Genghis Khan. But you always managed to rein her back in before she went totally over the top.

Denis: This is a load of absolute...

Interviewer: Gradually she and her government put into place the legislation you and your business friends wanted. Gradually you achieved an economy which was pro the employer, anti the worker. How you got her to do all that is the one thing we don't know. We do know that her voice changed quite dramatically during her years of power, and so perhaps what we heard was not her own voice, expressing what were not her own thoughts.

Denis: I haven't the faintest...

Interviewer: From Margaret Hilda Roberts to Lady Thatcher the transformation was as startling as that from Michael Jackson to, well, the other Michael Jackson. You must have wondered, sometimes, just how you got away with it. But to help throw people off the scent you encouraged the image of you as the old buffoon, as portrayed so ably in Private Eye. Was Richard Ingrams in fact in your pay?

Denis: Now look here...

Coming soon: a startling interview with Alastair Campbell, in which he claims that Tony Blair is the real power behind the throne.

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