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Margaret Thatcher: Accustomed as I am...

01:00 Fri 29th Mar 2002 |

Q. Thatcher didn't really say that, did she

A. Of course not - just a little joke. Margaret Thatcher was always the most accomplished of speakers, but now, following doctor's orders, she's announced her retirement from public speaking. Whatever you may think of her or her policies, her speeches over the years have provided some of the most memorable soundbites in modern politics. From her 11 years as prime minister to her period as the grandest of Tory grandees, she had a knack for grabbing headlines. But the 'milk snatcher' had already made her mark in her early days in politics.

Q. Such as


'I am not hard - I'm frightfully soft. But I will not be hounded.' (1972)

'It will be years - and not in my time - before a woman will lead the party or become Prime Minister.' (1974)

'I've got a woman's ability to stick to a job and get on with it when everyone else walks off and leaves it.' (1975)

'I stand before you tonight in my green chiffon evening gown, my face softly made up, my fair hair gently waved. The Iron Lady of the Western World Me A Cold War warrior Well, yes - if that is how they wish to interpret my defence of values and freedoms fundamental to our way of life.' (1976)

'I can trust my husband not to fall asleep on a public platform and he usually claps in the right places.' (1978)

'Any woman who understands the problems of running a home will be nearer to understanding the problems of running a country.' (1979)

Q. On the Brighton bomb


'That is the scale of the outrage in which we have all shared. And the fact we are gathered here, now, shocked but composed and determined, is a sign not only that this attack has failed, but that all attempts to destroy democracy by terrorism will fail.' (Tory conference, 1984, a few hours after the bomb that nearly killed her)

'This is a day I was not meant to see.' (1984, a week later)

Q. And what about Europe


'To try to suppress nationhood and concentrate power at the centre of European conglomerate would be highly damaging and would jeopardise the objectives we seek to achieve.'

'Certainly we want to see Europe more united and with a greater sense of common purpose, but it must be in a way which preserves the different traditions, parliamentary powers, and sense of pride in one's own country.'

'No, no, no,' (on moves towards more European integration in the aftermath of an EU summit)

Q. And her fall


'I fight on. I fight to win.' (21 November 1990, after she was forced into a second ballot in the leadership battle - she withdrew before it took place)

'It's a funny old world.' (The day after her resignation)

Q. And how about a few old faves


'To those waiting with bated breath for that favourite media catchphrase, the U-turn, I have only one thing to say: "You turn if you want to. The lady's not for turning".' (1980)

'We are coming slowly, painfully to an autumn of understanding. I hope it will be followed by a winter of common sense.' (1980)

'Victorian values were the values when our country became great.' (1982)

'What a prize we have to fight for: no less than the chance to banish from our land the dark divisive clouds of Marxist socialism.' (1983)

'We knew what we had to do and we went about it and did it. Great Britain is great again.' (1982, on the end of the Falklands Conflict)

'Pennies do not come from heaven. They have to be earned here on earth.' (1982)

'State socialism is totally alien to the British character.' (1983)

'This is a man I can do business with.' (On first meeting Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev)

'There is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families.' (1987)

'We are a grandmother.' (1989, on the birth of her grandson)

Q. And sundry other gems


'I wasn't lucky. I deserved it.' (Aged 9, on receiving a school prize)

'There is no alternative.' (Comment made on several occasions about her economic policy, giving rise to the acronym that became her nickname 'Tina' - bet you never knew that)

'If a woman like Eva Peron with no ideals can get that far, think how far I can go with all the ideals that I have.' (1980)

'I love argument, I love debate. I don't expect anyone just to sit there and agree with me, that's not their job.' (1980)

'No one would have remembered the Good Samaritan if he'd only had good intentions. He had money as well.' (1980)

'I owe nothing to women's lib.' (1982)

'I think, historically, the term "Thatcherism" will be seen as a compliment.' (1985)

'Why, Marks and Spencer of course. Doesn't everyone ' (1986, when asked where she bought her underwear)

'I don't mind how much my ministers talk, as long as they do what I say.' (1987)

'What's wrong with British water.' (1989, when presented with Perrier water at a lunch)

Q. And what's the best piece of advice she never took


'I have always said if you want a speech, ask a man. If you want something done, ask a woman.'

Have a look at this for more document=5

See also the answerbank articles on we, Thatcher's statue, acronyms and pennies from heaven

For more on Phrases & Sayings click here

By Simon Smith

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