28 June 2009

Thatcher And Reagan - Into The '80s...

The Sun, February 25, 1981:

It promises to be the political love-in of the year.

Premier Margaret Thatcher flies to the United States today for cruicial two-day talks with President Reagan.

She is determined to be the first European leader to be on first name terms with the new President.

And yesterday, in a radio broadcast that was heard in America, Mrs Thatcher made her first throw.

She is, she explained, the same kind of girl as he is boy... a grocer's daughter who has plenty in common with the former movie star.

She said that they think and talk alike about state spending cuts, beating inflation, chopping bureaucracy and cutting taxes.

Last night President Reagan said he wanted to discuss Russian leader Leonid Brezhnev's offer of a peace summit.

But Mrs Thatcher will warn him to tread carefully.

She believes that Russia could best improve relations by withdrawing troops from Afghanistan.

Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan: she, UK Prime Minister; he, President of the USA.

And what pals they seemed. OK, there were one or two dodgy moments, but there is no doubt that from 1981-1988 Thatcher and Reagan bestrode the world stage like Godzilla and King Kong. Well, okay, maybe not quite like that, but, united, they seemed absolutely colossal!

I always recall how shocked my mother was when she heard about Reagan's election in November 1980: "But he's an actor! He was in cowboy films! He can't be President - that's ridiculous!"

The American political scene was not something my very English mother ever understood.

And it must be admitted that left wing UK newspapers like the Daily Mirror made fun of Mr Reagan's acting background...

Daily Mirror, February 27, 1981 - The Co-Stars! Below, the article inside the paper...

Guards of honour, silver trumpets, military bands and red carpets welcomed Premier Margaret Thatcher when she arrived at the White House yesterday yesterday for her talks with Ronald Reagan.

The hundreds of guests invited to the ceremony on the lawn outside the President's office were handed free Union Jacks to make the event even more colourful.

All that was missing was a credit line saying it was a production by Warner Brothers - the film company for whom the President used to make B movies in Hollywood.

Mrs Thatcher played her part perfectly.

Wearing black - an unusual choice - and a pillbox hat, she said exactly what her host wanted her to say.

"We in Britain stand with you," she declared. "America's successes will be our successes, your problems will be our problems. When you look for friends, we will be there."

There was perhaps a hint of Britain's own economic problems when she said that weaker spirits might be tempted to give way to gloom.

Then, raising her voice and turning toward the President, she said: "Others, like you, will be stirred by the challenge."

The new Washington establishment, headed by Vice-President George Bush and Secretary of State Alexander Haig, were all there to demonstrate that with Mrs Thatcher and Reagan in power the special relationship between the two countries now has a new special meaning.

Mrs Thatcher spent two hours with the President in his oval office - 45 minutes without their officials present.

They spoke particularly about Soviet President Brezhnev's proposal for a summit, the international economic situation and the growing crisis in El Salvador.

NATO was discussed, but the neutron bomb was hardly mentioned.

In the first volume of her autobiography, The Path To Power, Margaret Thatcher recalled how she first heard of Ronald Reagan's political endeavours in the late 1960s:

Denis had returned home one evening in the late 1960s full of praise for a remarkable speech Ronald Reagan had just delivered at the Institute of Directors. I read the text myself and quickly saw what Denis meant.

She met him in 1975 and 1978, and later wrote in The Path To Power:

In the early years Ronald Reagan had been dismissed by much of the American political elite, though not by the American electorate, as a right wing maverick who could not be taken seriously. (I had heard that before somewhere.) Now he was seen by many thoughtful Republicans as their best ticket back to the White House. Whatever Ronald Reagan had gained in experience, he had not done so at the expense of his beliefs. I found them stronger than ever. When he left my study I reflected on how different things might look if such a man was President of the United States. But in November 1978 such a prospect seemed a long way off.

What a difference 1980 made!

1 comment:

Fitzmorgan said...

I often wonder what would of happened if Ronnie hadn't been elected in 1980. It's my guess that the world would be a very different place today.