Large scale document archive

1978 Dec 6 We
Archive (Sherman MSS)

MT: Peter Utley to David [Wolfson] (plea to reform MT’s approach to speechwriting) [travails of a speechwriter]

Document type: Declassified documents
Source: Sherman MSS (Royal Holloway Library) Box 7
Editorial comments:
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 1p
Themes: Conservative Party (organization)
I feel that 'something must be done, and done quickly, about Margaret's speech-writing machinery. - Last week, she asked Alfred to compose a piece on conscience for an American luncheon. She rejected his first draft a!ld asked oi me to produce another according to a carefully-discussed scheme __ : I did so, and this was in turn rejected. She then invited another draft from Alfred, but insisted on discussing my draft with me for three hours at the end of which she decided on a completely- new structure, of which Alfred was informed at ten 0'clock at night. Indeed, I have over-simplified: in the first instance, Alfred was required to produce not one but two. This is madness. Nost of us have other things to attend to, and simply have not the time for this kind of lark. ~orse still, the final synthesised product is always far worse than any ot"its predecessors. It seems to me that in future no one sbould raise his pen to write a speech until a short avant projet has been agreed upon, that she must be made to stick to this agreeoent and urged to leave the speech whenever possible in the hands of whoever is charged with it. She might hand it over for f~al saobin~~to a speech-editor, or even conceivably do this herself." " I certainly have DO au~hority to put this to her, though I have no objection to being ~uoted. I kno~ that Alfred shares these views, ~d I ~ sending him a copy of this letter. I also kno~ (as you probably do) that ttey are broadly shared by e~e~ybody who takes pa=t in the exe=c:se.~ Could you s;eak for ~3 or ev~n (oeca~se, when the ele=t~o~ co~es, the matter will oe of extreme iw?ortance) pers~ade one of her to~ collea~ues to talk to her fi~mly. I thi~~ we have had a minor victory ove= trades unions. Ttorneycroft's draft see=s excelle=~, thoug3 should be slightly s~~~~g~hened on the closed shop. I only hope it gets delive=ed without second) third and fourth t~oughts: Yours ever, Peter.