Margaret Thatcher and the Cold war

 

       The ending of the Cold war was a fitting falling curtain on Margaret Thatcher’s decade in office. It accounts for why she was so much more widely respected and loved abroad than at home. To many in Eastern Europe she was the clear voice, the unswerving authority in the west alongside President Reagan, who had forced the communist leadership of the USSR to confront their problems and change their system.

 

        Her actions to do this had sometimes been contentious at home and disliked by some of the European partners. She had backed the US in deploying  modern missile systems on European soil, to show the USSR that  the west would not be bullied. She had backed and encouraged the US Star Wars development, which offered the opportunity for the west to lift the fear and spectre of possible  nuclear assault by offering us all protection. It worked. President Gorbachev concluded that the Soviet system had fallen too far behind the west’s wealth, technology and defensive capability. He decided to change the Soviet system.

 

           I was surprised to hear Malcolm Rifkind in his articulate and generous tribute to Margaret give the Foreign Office  the credit for identifying the Gorbachev change . I recall reading a passing reference to  a Gorbachev speech that surprised me during my time as Chief Policy Adviser at Number 10. I asked the Foreign Office  about it. They thought it of no significance. I asked to see the speech. They sent me over a copy in Russian. Ever persistent, I explained to them that my education had not run to fluency in Russian and I needed a translation. One was eventually sent over.

 

          It was electrifying. There in this speech you could see a Soviet communist leader wrestling with the sad truth for him that the western system was delivering better defence and higher living standards. Some phrases, sentences and arguments echoed the belief in free enterprise that Margaret herself enjoyed. The USSR President was preparing the ground for an embrace of a more capitalist system.  I took the speech to her, read out the crucial passages and surprised her as well as myself by the change they represented. It seemed possible, for the first time in the long Cold war, that change could come from the USSR which we could encourage and reinforce.  She immediately  saw the importance and  the implications. She made the first move, which the Foreign Office of course  assisted. She wanted to meet and talk to Gorbachev, and was in due course prepared to go to Moscow to do business with him.

 

             Her much later visit to Moscow was a triumph. The welcome of  people on the streets was very warm. She stood up well to a tv grilling, which won her more sympathy  from many Russians. The world was treading a path to the collapse of the Berlin Wall. Margaret Thatcher’s relationship with Reagan was important, giving him much needed European support for his determined stance against the USSR threat.  Her  relationship with Gorbachev was pivotal, allowing new exchanges with a changing regime.

 

          Her voice was heard in Eastern Europe.  As the subject peoples of communism stumbled out into the warmth of democratic freedom, it was her image they often had in their minds. WhenI travelled to Eastern Europe as a Minister to assist them in the immediate aftermath of the collapse of communism I was touched by their warmth towards the UK in general and Margaret in partricular. In Romania, travelling in the Ambassador’s car, a lady came up to the vehicle when stopped at traffic lights, and kissed the small Union flag we were flying.

 

   

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55 Comments

  1. Mike Stallard
    Posted April 13, 2013 at 6:18 am | Permalink

    If only she were still able to control the foreign office! If only this pantomime of “negotiating” with the Germans would end!
    But thank you for pointing out what Mrs Thatcher did about the Cold War. For those of us old enough to have lived with it all our adult lives (until 1989 anyway), losing the perpetual strain was exhilarating.
    And – this is in no way sarcastic – it has shown me personally the glories that the Eastern Europeans can bring to life in our little town. So very varied, so very friendly, so very amusing, they really do light up every day!

    • lifelogic
      Posted April 13, 2013 at 7:59 am | Permalink

      I agree fully.

      When indeed will “this pantomime of “negotiating” with the Germans would end!” I assume in 2015 when the Tories go and Miliband caves in completely instead of just the 90% under Cameron.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted April 13, 2013 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

      Mike, I take your point. They can certainly show some of the indigenous British population a thing or two about hard work and industry! But then, having lived through socialist tyranny in their own country, who can blame them for wanting to take advantage of the real opportunity Margaret Thatcher created in this one?

      Perhaps some of our own people should have experienced the real hardships of socialism too, then they might also reject it, rather than follow some ‘in thing’ that would consign us to the same folly.

      I suspect the younger ones don’t have the benefit of our experience. I recall the undemocratic methods the trade unions employed in the 1960s and 1970s, in order to get their way, and the rigged ballots (when there actually were ballots) to get their puppet ‘placemen’ in situ. I worked amongst it. I saw the jumped-up people with very little IQ, full of their own importance, who loved their ability to call a strike or a stoppage for the most trivial of reasons, and that left a lasting impression on me. They were killing this country, and Margaret Thatcher merely ensured they were made to be democratically accountable. And can we say that the doom merchants who forecast a return to 19th century sweatshop conditions if the Tories had their way, were right?

      That is Margaret Thatcher’s gift to us, social mobility, and the chance to get on in life if we choose to take it.

      The irony of ironies though, the socialist-centric EU, which in keeping with that now discredited philosophy, protects prices and markets with subsidies and a lack of democratic accountability, is delivering poverty and strife on a massive scale. And had Margaret Thatcher not been removed by her ‘friends’, the EU might have been changed to the new and more equitable British model, although that would have been a mammoth task given how embedded socialism is.

      Wherever we look, socialism has been a disaster. So, to those who still harken after this unreachable, fanciful Utopia, and dance in the streets, I merely ask, which part of the phrase, ‘socialism represents continued and historical failure’ are they having so much trouble with?

      Tad Davison

      Cambridge

    • Tita
      Posted May 10, 2013 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

      Margaret Thatcher

  2. alan jutson
    Posted April 13, 2013 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    “They sent me over a copy in Russian”.

    That simple account of an action, sums up all that is wrong with our public services.

    A complete and utter lack of appreciation of what government Ministers want to do, no thought, no questions, no help, no comment, just do the bear minimum, after a long wait.

    Then they can retire on a huge pension !.

    This mindset simply has to change if we are to move forward, and be able to compete with any other Country.

    Is this their attitude with all things EU as well John ?

    Do they not read anything, or do they pour over every detail, and then gold plate it ?

    • A different Simon
      Posted April 13, 2013 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

      Alan ,

      Isn’t it ironic that now we have to have road signs in Polish up in Cheshire ?

      …. and print every official form in about 30 different languages .

      Wouldn’t surprise me if our establishment stopped printing forms in Welsh just to rub it in that we are all third class citizens in what used to be our country – just in case we haven’t got the message yet .

    • Mark
      Posted April 13, 2013 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

      It’s worth recording who the key players were at the time. The Foreign Secretary was Sir Geoffrey Howe, who was perhaps rather more preoccupied with the EC. The Ambassador in Moscow was Sir Bryan Cartledge, who had earlier worked in No 10 in Thatcher’s private office on secondment from the FCO: he was the first ambassador to have real contact with the head of state since Sir Humphrey Trevelyan at the time of the nuclear test ban treaty. Here is a record of their first substantive meeting:

      http://www.apnewsarchive.com/1986/Diplomats-Say-Gorbachev-Insists-Reykjavik-Package-Remain-Intact/id-55e335b811004da153eaaaac06e970a0

      I suspect that FCO communication lines ended up being bypassed. Cartledge was succeeded in 1988 by Sir Roderic Braithwaite, who managed to persuade the Gorbachevs to come to dinner in the Embassy. He wrote about his time in Moscow in Across the Moscow River: The World Turned Upside Down. in which he credits Thatcher’s perception of the winds of change in the Soviet Union.

      Howe was succeeded briefly by John Major in 1989 before Douglas Hurd took over.

      • Mark
        Posted April 14, 2013 at 10:56 am | Permalink

        The above link ends with the following description of the latter part of the meeting:

        The sources said Gorbachev delivered a lengthy dissertation on the importance he held for his dialogue with Mrs. Thatcher and the timeliness of her planned visit to Moscow next spring.

        Gorbachev stressed the regard he has for Mrs. Thatcher as an interlocutor on East-West relations and as someone with influence within the NATO alliance, the sources said. No dates for Mrs. Thathcer’s visit have been announced.

    • zorro
      Posted April 13, 2013 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

      John has mentioned her foreign interventions previously, and I believe that this will be her long lasting legacy as a catalyst in changing the Cold War, and pushing the momentum to bring down the Iron Curtain. I remember the trip to Moscow and there was a genuine appreciation for her and the policies that she represented amongst the people there. Freedom, the ability to control your life – all universal human needs.

      Excellent little pastiche from John on the FO…. ‘I asked the Foreign Office about it. They thought it of no significance. I asked to see the speech. They sent me over a copy in Russian…’

      Ever helpful, ever helpful……

      zorro

  3. oldtimer
    Posted April 13, 2013 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    An interesting insight into the FO`s news management and reporting at the time. I wonder if it has changed in the meantime? There is no substitute for face to face contact, without the benefit of intermediaries, when it really matters.

  4. Richard1
    Posted April 13, 2013 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    The role played by Margaret Thatcher in saving the world from Communism, including in particular the peoples of former communist countries, is comparable to the role played by Churchill in saving the world from Nazism.

    • uanime5
      Posted April 13, 2013 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

      You mean being in charge while other people fought the battles for you? No matter how great a leader someone is heroic things can only be achieved through the actions of the many. While Churchill engaged in politics and diplomacy it should not be forgotten that the generals and admirals fought the battles for him.

  5. Richard Manns
    Posted April 13, 2013 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    Would it be possible to post the translated speech in some form for anyone interested to read?

    No – it was a long time ago and the copy I used was government property which stayed in Downing Street

    • Bob
      Posted April 13, 2013 at 10:37 am | Permalink

      “No – it was a long time ago and the copy I used was government property which stayed in Downing Street”

      Mr Redwood,
      Could you ask Mr Cameron for a copy and post it on your blog?
      Or was it shredded by the previous occupants in Downing Street?

      • zorro
        Posted April 13, 2013 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

        maybe classified , perhaps it might be released in due course?

        zorro

        Reply No the speech is not classified – it was a text of a Gorbachev speech that had been delivered – I doubt No 10 even kept it.
        Gorbachev made a speech in December 1984 with hints of reform. He then made a major speech two months after becoming General Secretary(march 1985) in May 1985, which pointed the way to fundamental economic reform and perestroika. Many in the west thought it would be more of the same- half hearted attempts to change a centrally controlled system by more central controls. I did not see it that way – more importantly Margaret Thatcher did not see it that way one once she read it. The speech did prefigure huge reforms that tried to ape the best of competitive capitalism, and went on later to lead to democratic reform.

        • zorro
          Posted April 13, 2013 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

          Could it have been this one John?…..http://oai.dtic.mil/oai/oai?verb=getRecord&metadataPrefix=html&identifier=ADA338415

          USSR Report: Translations from Kommunist, No. 8, May 1985
          It’s page 25 on the PDF of his speeches….judicious use of the phrase….’there is no alternative’ (twice on page 29)….’labour productivity’ (twice on page 29 too)……’we squander countless resources in each sector, but nobody is going broke’ (p33)…..He must have been reading his Herbert Spencer!

          zorro

    • outsider
      Posted April 13, 2013 at 11:12 am | Permalink

      Reply to reply:
      A fascinating insight nonetheless, for which thank you Mr Redwood..

    • Mark
      Posted April 13, 2013 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

      Here’s one speech from 1985:

      http://sfr-21.org/sources/gorbachev1985.html

      • Mark
        Posted April 13, 2013 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

        There’s an interesting collection of his speeches from 1985 in translation available at the link here:

        http://oai.dtic.mil/oai/oai?verb=getRecord&metadataPrefix=html&identifier=ADA338415

        Look at page 11/12 of the first speech on the 40th anniversary of the end of the Great Patriotic War, and the final sections on page 17 – a big change of tone from self-congratulation. A later speech in Leningrad dares to criticise poor industrial output quality.

  6. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted April 13, 2013 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    A revealing insight into the modus operandi of the Foreign Office.

  7. Nick Drew
    Posted April 13, 2013 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    It’s a great snippet of history, and Mrs T was masterful in her dealings with Gorbachev’s Moscow

    But she mis-read German re-unification really, really badly Why? Even if she had an atavistic dislike of the Greater Germany, that’s no reason to be unrealistic in policy-making.

    Reply I might write about that one day

    • zorro
      Posted April 13, 2013 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

      Did she…?…….She was fully aware of the potential (emphasis on potential) of a Greater Germany to impose itself over others in Europe, as was Mitterrand, Andreotti, and Lubbers. She was far from alone in this view……Has history proved her view true? We shall see. But quite rightly at the time, people were thinking about Germany’s past, and how easily it had on three occasions disturbed comparative peace in Europe, and how its ambitions were clearly extending beyond its own borders. Germany has economic power over Europe, no need (word left out-ed) for boots on the ground.

      zorro

    • backofanenvelope
      Posted April 13, 2013 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

      Perhaps she was worried that a re-united Germany would come to dominate Europe. And it looks as though she was right – again.

      Given the German record over the last 100 years things don’t look to good. If anyone can screw things up, it’ll be the Germans.

      • Willy Wombat
        Posted April 14, 2013 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

        I recall she thought that nothing good had ever come out of Germany. She must have meant this in a geopolitical sense, unless she was completely ignorant of music, confectionery and precision engineering. In fact we don’t know what a post-EU Germany will be like, after its bending over backwards to be nice has resulted in continent-wide devastation. I should think it will be rather cynical.

  8. forthurst
    Posted April 13, 2013 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    “I was surprised to hear Malcolm Rifkind in his articulate and generous tribute to Margaret give the Foreign Office the credit for identifying the Gorbachev change.”

    Perhaps, a persusal of the FCO archives would clarify the issue? Was our Russian ambassador on the ball with references to perestroika or was he purely on watch for tank movements? But, perhaps not, as David Miliband ordered the dispersal of our history as English people contained in the FCO library to be dispersed. Some went to King’s College, London, a bastion of neoconservatism; I wonder what they titbits they found about the murderous non-Slavic gangsters that created the Bolshevik empire? The founding of Israel might have given interesting reading also. Our records as a people belong in Kew.

    Mrs Thatcher was a towering figure on the world stage, so it is easy to overlook some of the unworthy and treacherous figures she sometimes unaccountably rewarded with her preferment.

    • zorro
      Posted April 13, 2013 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

      ‘non-Slavic gangsters that created the Bolshevik empire?’…..I wonder who you could be referring to? 😉

      zorro

  9. Terry
    Posted April 13, 2013 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    Thank you for this splendid story, John but shouldn’t this information have been made more public at the time?

    Just why there is this reluctance of decent Politicians to communicate with the electorate at any appropriate time, is bewildering. Perhaps the BBC did not see it as “appropriate”, maybe?

    Reply As her Policy Adviser I did not make anything public. What I said to her was private. She decided which advice to accept and use in the statements she made.

  10. NickW
    Posted April 13, 2013 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    During Margaret Thatcher’s time in office, we could only see her through the prism of the media as it was at that time; we didn’t have the internet to enable us to understand when we were being given distorted, biased or incorrect information.

    To what extent was Mrs Thatcher unjustly vilified by bias in the media, (including the BBC), at that time?

    To what extent is the left’s current loathing of Mrs Thatcher due to distortions and untruths committed whilst she was in office, which were never satisfactorily rebutted?

    How much influence have the teaching unions had, and why is it that school children have been brought up to hate Mrs Thatcher, (and the Conservative Party) without knowing any reasons why?

    • uanime5
      Posted April 13, 2013 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

      Quit blaming the teaching unions for Thatcher being unpopular. The curriculum is set by the Government so they have complete control over what is taught in schools, including whether to teach the history of the UK between 1970 and 2000.

      Speaking as someone who actually studied history at school the part about the Cold War focused more on the proxy wars between the USA and USSR (Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan); the Cuban missile crisis; China; how the USSR maintained control in eastern Europe, and what happened after the USSR collapsed. There was almost nothing about Thatcher, Watergate, Mathias Rust, Israel, or the effects of low oil prices on the USSR’s economy.

  11. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted April 13, 2013 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    Many are giving Gorbachev the credit for this and hero worship him, but it takes two or three in your case as facilitator . According to radio 4 you were a favourite to become a successor , but the party and herself could not take the Eurosceptic stance which you took with Ken Clarke.
    Her popularity in the ‘abroad’ certainly outweighs the good will showed for her here in the UK. She apparently glowed when adored by these people, but many at home felt betrayed.

    • zorro
      Posted April 13, 2013 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

      ‘but the party and herself could not take the Eurosceptic stance which you took with Ken Clarke.’…….I suddenly feel that I have entered some parallel universe….Ken Clarke….Euroscepticism?…..Or is this some oblique reference to the rather spooky 1997 race when Ken Clarke was to offer John the shadow chancellorship. I think that Lady T called it “an incredible alliance of opposites” and promptly endorsed William Hague!

      zorro

      Reply My own bid ended with me coming third. I had to decide between Hague and Clarke. I talked to both. The main question I asked was wopuld they rule out the Uk joining the Euro? Hague said he would not rule it out. Clarke said he would and would make me Shadow Chancellors to guarantee that. I could not vote for someone who countenanced abolishing the pound.

      • zorro
        Posted April 17, 2013 at 12:16 am | Permalink

        I understand, but I suppose it would have ended in a car crash bearing in mind what we know happened a couple of years with regards to KC’s views on the Euro…..

        zorro

  12. Bill
    Posted April 13, 2013 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    Glad to read this. Sorry that Guardian-style journalism never manages to understand any of it.

    • livelogic
      Posted April 13, 2013 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

      Guardian/BBC style journalism is all about irrational base emotions, incubating envy and telling people what they would like to hear. Things like all landlords are “unscrupulous”, all banker are rich thieves, the government has a magic money tree and anyone richer than you is only so, because they stole it off you in some way or other.

      Understanding, logic, science, sound economics and reason are not really the trade they are in.

      • Bazman
        Posted April 14, 2013 at 9:33 am | Permalink

        Certainly not your trade as a landlord and as for logic and answering question without a prejudice and emotion. Go to the back of the class. You just blank out any inconvenient points or truths.
        All banker are rich thieves, the government has a magic money tree and anyone richer than you is only so, because they stole it off you in some way or other. Childish fantasy writing.
        Read it to yourself and many landlord are unscrupulous. Bankers rich thieves? Magic money tree called the pulice/state is right Right wing views, but happy to take money off the state for social housing that was once state owned and private state underpinned banking ripping of everyone. Stole is the wrong word. Subsidised is the right one.
        A proper ‘logical’ reply is expected fr0om someone as scientific and clever as yourself not right wing fantasy and propaganda based on emotion. Ram it.

        • lifelogic
          Posted April 14, 2013 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

          Some landlord are indeed unscrupulous, but most are certainly not. Many tenants certainly are too.

          I have yet to see a magic money tree.

          My main trade is not as a landlord, though I do still have some tenants. I am getting out out this trade though as it is no longer worth all the hassle for the return available.

  13. Normandee
    Posted April 13, 2013 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    The saddest comment in your article is the story of the woman who kissed the Union Flag, labouring under the misapprehension that all politicians were like Margaret Thatcher, she was expecting changes in her way of life and future. All she got was another set of self serving corrupt politicians, which she still has today.
    As have we all.

  14. Tad Davison
    Posted April 13, 2013 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    Interesting to note that people in the former USSR and elsewhere, who had suffered under a backward socialist system, and knew how restrictive and oppressive it was, were very appreciative of Margaret Thatcher for helping to free them from it. Yet those at home in the UK, who danced on the streets of Glasgow and Brixton, still condemn her for stopping them from having a similarly restrictive and undemocratic system, that would have been to the ultimate cost of the rest of us.

    I am left to wonder, had they succeeded, whether they would now be free to celebrate in quite the same way, or would the scenes we see on the streets of North Korea, where people are oppressed and starving to death, be the norm in Britain?

    As for the Foreign Office, it would seem it is aloof, a law unto itself, and hardly representative of the mood of the British people. That cannot be allowed to continue, but who is strong enough to bring it to heel?

    Foreign Office mandarins seem to be of the view, that they are ‘permanent’ and represent continuity and a steady direction, whereas politicians are merely ‘transitory beings’, to be placated, pacified, and thwarted in their quest to effect change. Time then, we reminded them they are civil servants, not civil masters.

    Tad Davison

    Cambridge

  15. Normandee
    Posted April 13, 2013 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    We have been here before, but I will bring it up again but in the context of Margaret Thatcher. I have complained to you before that you do not make enough effort to try and bring about a change in direction re europe in the conservative party, and I refer to it as being afraid to leave your “comfort zone”. Try and think about this, Was Mrs Thatcher in her comfort zone when she took on the miners ? was she in her comfort zone when she was the first to recognise Gorbachev?, was she in her comfort zone when she went to Brussels to bring back the rebate and change in the EU, was she ever afraid to leave her “comfort zone”? no and why? because she had conviction not just fine words. You are not a Eurosceptic you are Eurovague, with no real convictions.

  16. Electro-Kevin
    Posted April 13, 2013 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    I remember feeling very exposed during the cold war. The threat of imminent nuclear annihilation seemed real enough to us.

    Thank God we didn’t let CND have their way.

    Thank you for insisting on that translation.

    If it transpires that Margaret Thatcher had got some things wrong don’t we owe her a debt of gratitude far outweighing any other criticisms for this policy alone ?

    Unless we are, of course, to believe the Left’s re-write of history that the Cold War was won by Polish dock workers and some hardy women in tents.

  17. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted April 13, 2013 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    You have jogged my memory into remembering perestroika. All the buzz chat was about openness . I can see how it dovetails with your desire for liberty and free speech. I still desire openness for there are many who allude to it but only really want to hear filtered openness . More than ever I desire honesty leading to reasonable discussion. Of course this will not happen 100% in a competitive society which poker- like keeps secrets for cut and thrust.
    As all who have studied logic know that true logic by it’s nature needs to be reversible. This is not possible in a true living world .Scientific facts are provable , however there is much science which changes nature due to basic emotively driven impulses. Emotions are a very big part of our world and provide human energy to deal with day to day living, whether expressed as emotion or transcribed into falsification of data.

    • uanime5
      Posted April 14, 2013 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

      Scientific facts are provable , however there is much science which changes nature due to basic emotively driven impulses.

      As long as scientific facts remain provable it doesn’t matter how much emotion is involved as it will always be possible to use the facts to show what is correct and debunk arguments that aren’t based on reason.

      • margaret brandreth-j
        Posted April 15, 2013 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

        Genetic mutation is not fixed . It is continually changing. The genetic pool has at its base in attraction and emotion.

  18. Peter Davies
    Posted April 13, 2013 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    Interesting insight, her achievements overseas fighting imperialism cannot be underestimated and will hopefully no doubt feature strongly in history. Its such a shame however, we shake off one huge threat only to be confronted by another only with an EU in front of it and staffed by policitos with lawyers rather than tanks and guns.

    Something which I am sure we could simply organize a free trade agreement with and pull out if there was the political will

  19. Mark B
    Posted April 13, 2013 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    Thank you Mr. Redwood MP for this little insight. I have to say, and I am sure many will agree, that these little insights into government make politics much more interesting.

    I think when it comes to the cold war, people should not forget the contributions of Mr. Oleg Gordevski (sp) the one time KGB agent and British spy. I believe he gave our government much information on the thinking of the Politburo at the time.

  20. Robert Taggart
    Posted April 13, 2013 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

    She was indeed a force for good in Europe – Eastern Europe.
    Alas, the uber misogynists of Western European governments were too set in their accommodating / ostpolitik ways.

  21. Bazman
    Posted April 14, 2013 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    Anyone who thought that Britains defence forces has a snowballs against the might of the Soviet Empire was dreaming and the idea that Thatcher somehow saved us all from the Russian communist system by a few mean words and putting a few defensive missiles on European soil is laughable. The Soviet empire was collapsing from the inside long before this and can be likened to a balloon that when it stops expanding then deflates. In the end they got extreme capitalism that any right wing fantasist would not last five minutes under.
    Interesting to read the magic speech. Post it in Russian John.

    • Edward2
      Posted April 14, 2013 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

      Baz,
      You are of course entitled to your opinion and its rewriting of modern history.
      But it is accepted by nearly all modern historians that our nuclear weapons plus the power of NATO and the enormous sums invested by the USA in for example the star wars defence programme, resulted in the USSR’s evil empire collapsing many years before it would have otherwise.
      A softer, left wing, CND approach by NATO UK and USA may have emboldened the USSR and who knows what may have happened intsead.

    • Electro-Kevin
      Posted April 14, 2013 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

      Bazman – I think you’ve missed the point.

      Gorbachev recognised that the USSR could not keep up militarily nor economically. A few missiles here, a bit of hard talk there really did provide the nudge needed.

      Mrs Thatcher acted as go-between the USSR and The States brilliantly.

      Neither Neil Kinnock nor Michael Foot would have been taken seriously by either president. It is no coincidence that it happened on her watch.

      You really ought to show some gratitude for a change.

      The CND were wrong. The Left were wrong.

      Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

      • Electro-Kevin
        Posted April 14, 2013 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

        “…right wing fantasist”

        Oh do give it a rest.

        About the only thing I’m fantasising about is waking up from the nightmare that your beloved Nu Labour have delivered.

        That you’re not a fantasist is only because we’re all living in your bloody dream.

        • Bazman
          Posted April 14, 2013 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

          Nu Labour delivered a right wing fantasy make no mistake and some of it was good.

      • Bazman
        Posted April 14, 2013 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

        CND where misguided. It is true that might was right. You think I am some sort of lefty fantasist when you are all right wing dreamers except when the dreaming applies to yourselves. Ram it.

  22. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted April 14, 2013 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    We were very lucky with two Russian leaders. Mikhail Gorbochev, a wooly minded but benevolent Communist was the first.

    The second was Yegor Gaidar, Boris Yeltsin’s chief economist who abolished exchange controls and liberated Russia from price controls overnight. Some of the short term consequences were appalling – 2000% inflation, a 40% collapse in Soviet GDP (they had been making so much that nobody wanted) and a massive trade deficit as imports surged. Well as Mrs Thatcher did, I can’t help feeling that Yegor Gaidar and Boris Yeltsin had it harder.

  23. Bazman
    Posted April 14, 2013 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

    Human nature is human nature a Russian Taxi driver I talked to had the same opinion as many of the ones put out of work by thatcher on being put out of work by Gorbachev. He must have been the enemy within huh? No danger of bankers as employees being put out of work though. Executives? Don’t make me laugh. Managers with executive powers. Never a good thing. Ram it.

  24. John Doran
    Posted April 16, 2013 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    Thank you JR, a most fascinating insight.
    JD.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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