Guilty men
The Oldie Magazine|December 2020
Thirty years ago, Margaret Thatcher was toppled by three Conservative big beasts. Her old friend Norman Tebbit names them
Norman Tebbit

The story of the fall from office of Margaret Thatcher is told in dispassionate detail by Charles Moore in Herself Alone, the third volume of his masterful official biography, just out in paperback.

But I don’t think he applies the word ‘guilty’ to any of those involved in her fall from office on 28th November, 1990.

She was far from the first – or indeed the last – of Conservative leaders or Prime Ministers to be ousted against their will from office by colleagues, to whom the description ‘guilty men’ or, for that matter, ‘guilty women’ might be applied.

As one of the tightly-knit group of half a dozen or so MPs – led by Airey Neave, the Member for Abingdon and the heroic escapee from Nazi Germany’s most highly secure prisoner-of-war prison, Colditz Castle – who plotted the campaign to make Margaret Thatcher leader in place of Ted Heath, perhaps I merited the description ‘guilty man’ myself.

Certainly, that is how Ted Heath and his supporters regarded Airey Neave and his group of friends when Margaret Thatcher replaced him as party leader in 1975.

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