Margaret Thatcher was privately warned to break off relations with a shadowy adviser who claimed to have masterminded the defeat of the miners’ strike, according to newly released government papers.
Files released by the National Archives at Kew, west London, show officials feared David Hart – a wealthy Old Etonian property developer – was exploiting his links with No 10 for his own ends.
They warned that unless the Prime Minister severed her links with him, he would end up causing her “grave embarrassment“.
The flamboyant Mr Hart had managed to ingratiate himself with Mrs Thatcher with his enthusiasm for her free market policies, offering informal advice on a range of issues, but it was during the miners’ strike, which began in 1984, that he came into his own.
From his suite at Claridges, he established himself as a go-between between Mrs Thatcher and National Coal Board chairman Ian MacGregor while making regular forays to the coalfields in support of the working miners in his chauffeur-driven Mercedes.
He was said to have bankrolled the breakaway Union of Democratic Mineworkers and organised the legal action by working miners which led to the strike by Arthur Scargill‘s National Union of Mineworkers strike being ruled illegal.
He later boasted that Mrs Thatcher came to rely on him completely, claiming: “It got to the point where she really let me run it.”
While the true extent of his influence has been questioned, the files show that by the time the strike was drawing to a close in 1985 there was mounting concern in Downing Street about his activities.
In February 1985 Mrs Thatcher’s political secretary Stephen Sherbourne wrote to warn her that while Mr Hart had proved “useful” in the past, he had begun to pursue his own agenda, briefing against ministers like Energy Secretary Peter Walker.
“For example, while professing total loyalty to you, he has not shrunk from denigrating Peter Walker’s activities even though the latter was carrying out the line agreed with you and ministers.
He said that Mr Hart had even sought to interpose himself as an intermediary with the White House in discussions over Ronald Reagan‘s “Star Wars” strategic defence initiative, and warned that he may try to interfere in Northern Ireland as well.
“So long as he feels he can telephone me regularly on whatever issue, so long will there be a risk of grave embarrassment to you,” he wrote.
“I think therefore we must consider how we sever the link with DH in a way which is clear to him but does not unduly offend him.”
In the event the link was abruptedly broken not long afterwards when a misjudged attempt by Mr Hart to lobby the Americans on behalf of a British defence supplier resulted in the contract they were seeking being awarded to the French.
He nevertheless re-emerged in the 1990s as an adviser to Conservative defence secretaries Malcolm Rifkind and Michael Portillo.
Source – Durham Times, 30 Dec 2014
At a time when, once again, America (and its vicious but puny sidekick UK) seems to be trying to pick a fight with Russia, its a good time to post this again.
First released in the 1980s, if I remember correctly, it takes the form of a telephone conversation between Margaret Thatcher and the secretary of war
at the state department of the United States, who proceeds to put forward the idea of an economic war…
We have a problem, the companies want something done
About this sluggish world economic situation
Profits have been running a little thin lately
And we, we need to stimulate some growth
Now we know there’s an alarmingly high number of young people Roaming around in your country with nothing to do
But stir up trouble for the police and damage private property
It doesn’t look like they’ll ever get a job
It’s about time we did something constructive with these people
We’ve got thousands of ’em here too, they’re crawling all over
The companies think it’s time we all sit down
Have a serious get-together and start another war
And the payoff – what politician could resist…
Now just think for a minute, we can make this war so big, so big
The more people we kill in this war, the more the economy will prosper
We can get rid of practically everybody on your dole queue
If we plan this right
Take every loafer on welfare right off our computer rolls
Now don’t worry about demonstrations, just pump up your drug supply
So many people have hooked themselves on heroin
And amphetamines since we took over, it’s just like Vietnam
We had everybody so busy with LSD they never got too strong
Kept the war functioning just fine
It’s easy, we’ve got our college kids so interested in beer
They don’t even care if we start manufacturing germ bombs again
Put a nuclear stockpile in their back yard
They wouldn’t even know what it looked like
Thatcher, of course, really gets turned on by the idea, as no doubt Blair did and Cameron would.
This is one piece of music which (Thatcher’s prescence aside) has not dated at all, its a relevant today as it was when Reagan was bombing Libya and Thatcher was posturing over a few rocks in the South Atlantic that we didn’t even know we “owned”.
The more things change, the more they stay the same…