Who invented Thatcherism?

Scene: a Gentlemen's Club in London, early 1975. In the reading room, sampling brandy and cigars after an ample dinner, sit three senior members of the club: Sir John Hyphen-Smith, Lord Niemand and Denis Thatcher. All three are directors of Burmah Oil. The conversation has turned to the future of the Conservative Party, still reeling from the shock of two election defeats the previous year.

JHS: Heath's got to go. Utterly useless, grammar school twit. Said so years ago.

LN: Quite. Incredible that he actually managed to win in 1970. I suppose everyone was just pissed off with Wilson.

DT: He was on the right lines then. Shame he went native afterwards. Problem is, who are we going to replace him with? The senior sorts are all lightweights apart from Willie Whitelaw, and he's a bit soft. All the best people are in business, not politics.

LN: If only we could bring that actor chappie over from the States. You know, he was the Governor of California.

JHS: Yes, what's his name? Roger Regan? Something like that.

DT: Know who you mean. Sound fellow. Did well, cutting dole payments to the idle oiks too lazy to work. Facing down student pinkos.

LN (grinning): Just had a brainwave!

JHS: Go on.

LN: It's obvious. Your missus, Denis!

DT: What?!

LN: Margaret! She's pretty sound on most things. Thinks like we do. We make her the leader then when we get elected we use her to get what we need. Cut taxes, castrate the unions, cut public spending and so on. She's ambitious, Denis, you've told us that yourself.

DT: Do you know, it could work. A bit of a shove from me and away we go.

JHS: The party will never accept a woman leader. Never!

LN: But she thinks like a man! That's a compliment, not an insult, Denis! I bet she could beat Heath in a leadership election. Most people can't wait to see the back of him.

DT: Leave it with me, old boy. I'll have a quiet word in her shell-like and if she's game we'll set up an organisation. Airey Neave would run it if we asked him. Gentlemen, raise your glasses. To Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister!

LN and JHS: Hear, hear!

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