Speeches, etc.

Margaret Thatcher

Interview for Sunday Mirror

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: 19 Flood Street, Chelsea
Source: Sunday Mirror , 2 February 1975
Journalist: Victor Knight, Sunday Mirror
Editorial comments: Item listed by date of publication. No reference to this interview appears in MT’s appointment diary or pocket diary.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 493
Themes: Autobiographical comments, Autobiography (childhood), Conservative Party (organization), Conservative (leadership elections), Media

Thatcher Snubs Enoch

Tory leadership challenger Margaret Thatcher has given the thumbs down to rebel Enoch Powell.

She is firmly against having him back in the Tory fold.

Mrs. Thatcher has branded him a “deserter”—a man who abandoned his supporters and twice voted Labour.

On Tuesday the Shadow finance spokesman goes into the first round of her unprecedented contest with Edward Heath. She hopes to get enough votes in the ballot to prevent him being re-elected leader by an outright majority.

If she forces a second round there can be no certainty about the eventual winner. There might be moves to push through other contenders like William Whitelaw, Edward du Cann and James Prior.

But even if Mrs. Thatcher does not win the leadership, she has ensured herself a high place in the next Tory Government.

Some Right-wingers hope that if Mr. Heath is toppled. Mr. Powell can be brought back to the Shadow Cabinet as part of a general reconciliation under a new leader.

Mrs. Thatcher has made her views on Enoch crystal clear in a Granada ITV World in Action programme to be screened tomorrow night.

She attacked him for quitting the Tories just before the General Election last February—and then supporting Labour.

Mrs. Thatcher said: “I cannot forget that Mr. Powell deserted his own people who had supported him—to their great shock and sorrow—just a few minutes before the campaign was about to start.”

Asked if Mr. Powell could ever come back, Mrs Thatcher replied: “He would have to make very considerable overtures and show he had put his faith back in those whom he deserted.”

But Mr. Powell himself shows no sign of contrition. In a speech on Friday he again attacked Mr. Heath and this time included Mrs. Thatcher in his onslaught.

Mrs. Thatcher had a hectic time yesterday meeting the Press at her elegant home in Chelsea.

She revealed that she was unhappy about her “image” as presented by newspapers and TV.

“They usually show me as some sort of icicle,” she said.

Mrs. Thatcher also spoke of her family background—“not upper crust society.

“My Alfred Robertsfather kept a grocery shop,” she said. “One of my grandfathers was a railway guard and the other was a shoe worker.”

Later she hotted up her campaign with an attack on Mr. Heath's style of leadership.

She said: “Perhaps our greatest fault in office was that we did not listen enough.”

This was a criticism of Mr. Heath's attitude to MPs who disagreed with him on the Common Market and economic policy.

If Mrs. Thatcher becomes Tory leader she would give jobs to some of these men.

The only exception: Mr. Powell.

He has no place in Mrs. Thatcher's cupboard.

• Ladbrokes latest odds: 4–6 Heath, 3–1 Whitelaw, 4–1 Thatcher.