Robin Harris Discusses the Rise, Fall, and Legacy of Margaret Thatcher

with Robin Harris

Margaret Thatcher’s death one year ago sparked much commentary either critical or adulatory. You were certainly hard-pressed to find balanced commentary on her legacy unless you were reading Theodore Dalrymple’s thoughtful assessment on this site (his latest on Thatcher is here). Now contributing to this site’s ongoing appraisal of Thatcher is Robin Harris, her speechwriter and policy advisor. He comes to Liberty Law Talk to discuss his highly-acclaimed 2013 biography of the Iron Lady entitled Not for Turning: The Life of Margaret Thatcher. Harris worked closely with Prime Minister Thatcher from 1985 until her departure from Number Ten. He left with her and subsequently drafted the two volumes of her autobiography.

Harris includes in the book a letter he received in 2005 from Thatcher. She states the following:

Over the years, both during my time as Prime Minister and since, you played an important role in shaping not only my own thinking but that of the Conservative Party. As a key figure in Central Office during the 1980s you knew the struggles we endured in turning our beliefs into policy, often in the face of severe opposition. And because we have spoken about it so often, you also know, better than anyone else, what I wanted our reforms to achieve for the people of Britain.

This discussion recounts both Thatcher’s rise in the Conservative Party as she waged a rebellion against its uninspired leadership and her intellectual development into an adherent to free-market, small government, and low tax policies. Talking with Harris, we begin to understand just why she was the Lady who was ‘not for turning’.