Just this morning, I have finally opened part of a 1993 file which has been closed since I catalogued it ten years ago: Enoch Powell’s contribution to a BBC obituary programme for Margaret Thatcher. There are no great revelations in the file, I’m afraid – it was kept closed for reasons of general confidentiality, and is very unlikely to be used by the BBC now – but it is interesting to see just how far in advance these things are planned, twenty years early in this case. Powell greatly respected Thatcher, and they shared similar views, on the economy and Europe in particular. In describing her for this programme, he is perhaps most interesting on the Falklands, remarking that she showed a ruthlessness “not untypical of the female.” Powell goes on to say that like everyone else in government, Thatcher knew very well that Britain had been engaged in getting rid of the Falkland Islands for years, “but she saw that the moment had come … when that would not wash and, ruthlessly and absolutely, she ditched everybody who had been in any way involved in that course of action, even though she had been herself a consenting party to it.” Clearly, in Powell’s mind, a great virtue in a politician.

Katharine Thomson