The Thatcher Conspiracy

sort of novel. It’s meant to be satirical. I don’t really believe Thatcher was a Soviet mole – the point is, however, that it would make perfect sense if she were. Either a free-standing little story; or I could continue it into an alternative history of the 1980s and ’90s. Again, comments welcome. (If anyone is following this.)

 

THE THATCHER CONSPIRACY

CHAPTER I

The Beginning

‘Now, let me just get this straight’, she said, as she took another sip of her tea. Not proper tea, not English tea, but with a bit of hot water added and a dash of milk it would serve.

‘You want me to become a Conservative?’

She grimaced as she said the word. It went against all her newly-acquired principles. She was a true believer, after all. Her ambition was to become a heroine of the Revolution, helping to establish the dictatorship of the proletariat in the country where Marx had believed it would begin, but was proving curiously resistant to embracing it. She despised Conservatives. They were the ones who had patronized and snubbed her as a gurrl – she remembered the sneery tone – at Oxford. And they were her political kind’s archest enemies. Weren’t they?

But she continued listening. The man was, after all, good to listen to, and to look at: tall, patrician, gently-spoken, a bit effeminate, the very personification of all those heart-throbs she and her school friends had used to swoon over in their cheap Mills and Boon novels – usually read secretly under she sheets. (She took naturally to covert activities.)

‘Of course the Conservatives are a problem,’ he replied; ‘but not necessarily for the reasons you suppose. That’s why you have to join them, and eventually, we hope, to lead them. I’ll explain in a moment. But firstly, let me tell you how we – you and I together – will go about it. We’ve been preparing it for years.’

He lit a cigarette. Foreign, she thought. A Gauloise? No, it had a long tube attached to it; Russian, perhaps. That went with the romantic image too.

‘First of all, we’ll need a back-story. That won’t be too difficult, in view of your real background. A provincial shop-keeper father is a little lower in the social scale than we generally go for; but the petty-bourgeois very often have the right sorts of ideas. Petty-bourgeois women especially, I’m afraid. Sorry; it’s not their fault, poor dears’ – he couldn’t shed his own inherited patronizing language completely – ‘but the effect of their conditioning. And an entrepreneurial background – of a sort – may appeal to the modern kind of Tory more than the effete nobs, like me, that they’ve looked up to all these years. They also tend to have closed minds. That can be presented as an asset, if it’s dressed up the right way – as “conviction”, for example.’ He paused.

OK, she thought. And her membership of the Oxford University Conservative Club couldn’t do her any harm. No-one need know that she had joined that simply out of curiosity, or that she had been a secret member of the Communist Association at the same time. They’d be able to keep that quiet. And to shut up anyone who might betray any of the Lefty thoughts she had shared with her friends during her time at Oxford. She had heard that polonium was a pretty effective silencer. (She looked at her glass of tea with a twinge of anxiety. But he had drunk out of the same pot.) In any case, she hadn’t had many close friends at Oxford. Or, come to think of it, at any time. What was it about me? she wondered, not for the first time. Oh well, it’s their loss.

‘Of course,’ he continued, ‘you will have to pretend to admire your father, the sower of the entrepreneurial seed in the womb of your poor, despised mother – an apt metaphor for what we hope will be your relationship with your country – and the source of all your deeply moral principles.’ He turned to look at her more directly, aware that this might present a problem.

‘But Dad was a monster!’, she cried.

Anthony corrected her. ‘Father, not Dad. “Dad” is infra dig in the circles we expect you to move in now.’

Margaret made a mental note to take this on board. She went on.

‘He was mean, unsympathetic, materialist, judgmental, and pretty universally loathed by his customers and our neighbours. I began to see through him at the age of 14. That’s when I developed my bolshie streak. Isn’t it normal for children to react against their parents around then? And he tyrannized over Mum – sorry, mother – in a way that left her like a limp rag at the end of her life. If I ever get to write an account of my own life, I’ll try to make it up to her.’

‘No, you won’t’, interjected Anthony. That will ruin the image. If you can’t think of anything bad to say about her, you must miss her out completely. People will wonder why, but will come to understand. A soft, motherly mother is not what a strong leader needs. I’m sorry if that sounds macho, dear, but macho is what we need. You must grow some balls. – Not literally, of course’, he added hastily. ‘Conservatives don’t do transgender. Although’ – quietly, as an aside – ‘they do do queer.’

‘Queer?’ thought Margaret. ‘What does that mean?’ Anthony said the word in a way that seemed to imply more than just ‘unusual’; perhaps something a little naughty. But she didn’t want to betray her naivety in this area.

‘Secondly,’ Anthony went on, ‘you’ll need a husband. In fact we’ve got one lined up for you. He’s ideal: rich, which will pay for the child-minding (don’t worry, when you’re prime minister you won’t have to help with other people’s children), and – given a gin and tonic or two, and a round of golf – pretty docile. He’ll be able to introduce you to other rich people. Of course, they’ll be your natural constituents in the future. The only real problem is his name, which we presume you’ll need to adopt: it rhymes too easily with ‘snatcher’. Still, maybe no-one will think of that. He doesn’t know, of course: he’s too dumb to understand the complexities of our plot, and too indiscrete to be trusted with them. Apparently he has literary ambitions – is toying with the idea of doing a Diary piece for Private Eye. We may be able to help him there; the editor is one of ours, too. It will be blimpish in tone. That should help us with the image we want to set up for you. How could a strong socialist woman abide such a fool?’

Margaret shuddered at the thought. Particularly the idea of having intimate relations with him. Perhaps, if things worked out well, they could just do it once. And have twins, for economy. As long as neither of them turned out to be like the monster they were planning to turn her into.

‘The next thing, of course, will be to get you into Parliament, then into a Conservative cabinet, then elected leader of the party. We have the people to do that: Conservative MPs we’ve turned or compromised, lots of lovely girls – and boys – to act as honeytraps, genuine right-wingers who only need a little encouragement to get behind you, tame journalists to stick their knives into your rivals.’

Margaret wondered who they might be. Surely not dear Rupert?

‘Of course your feminine – uh – affliction may go against you at first, though we have ways to counter that. Remind those public school toffs of their school matrons. For those who still go in for certain sado-sexual practices that may not be difficult. Whisper ‘dominatrix’ in their ears. That should have them panting for you. Don’t worry; you won’t need to actually sleep with them. They’ll be far too terrified. You’ll have your Members in your hand. Metaphorically speaking, of course. Unless…’

‘No, no,’ interjected Margaret, hastily. She did understand some doubles entendres; or at least, when a double entendre was meant. ‘But OK. You’ve got me into Parliament, made me leader of the party, and won a general election for me, despite my “affliction” as you call it. I’m sure I can make a lot of that – first female prime minister, and so on. We might even get some of those feminists on board! After that I’m sure you can keep me going with other tricks and hidden allies.’

‘Indeed.’ It was at this point that Anthony came out with the name of one General Galtieri of Argentina, whom she’d never heard of, but who apparently had promised to step in to help – he hadn’t said how – if she found herself losing popularity. Plus some foolish trade union leaders to antagonize the public. They had it all planned, didn’t they?

Gosh, she thought. Perhaps it might just work!

*

‘But what then?’

Of course she had an inkling. But this next stage looked even more difficult than the first. She had got used to the idea of subverting left-wing parties, trade unions and protest movements to the Communist cause. Moscow had been trying that for years, with only moderate success. (Harold Wilson was a particular disappointment.) Surely Conservatives – even those who liked having their bottoms spanked by a woman – would be far more resistant. They were the ones, after all, who owned the assets that her sort of socialist wanted to sequester. Surely they’d notice when she started doling out their hard-earned (or hard-inherited) money to the feckless poor, and nationalizing things?

Or perhaps Anthony’s idea was quite different – for her to make a thorough mess of it, discrediting her party, and so bolstering Labour that way? Labour would win the following election, and that’s when the transition to true socialism could start. Margaret didn’t like the idea – she was constitutionally averse to making a mess of anything; but, of course, in a higher cause one must make personal sacrifices. Or – she suddenly thought – was that too risky? An incompetent leader could after all be easily replaced. Misogynistic Tories would not be at all averse to this – or, indeed, surprised. ‘Women, eh?!’ Someone else would fill her shoes. And capitalism would survive. It would have all been for nothing.

She put this to Anthony. He was impressed. ‘You’re a bright girl, Margaret’, he said. ‘Or can I call you Maggie? A little narrow-minded, but clear-headed. I’m sure you’ll be good at tactics, when it comes to it.’ She flushed. ‘But just now we’re concerned with the broader strategy. That may be a little further-looking than a petty-bourgeois, even a petty-bourgeois who has converted to socialism, will have thought of.’ That took some of her blush away. ‘You’re perfectly right that we don’t want you either to “turn” the Conservative party, or to wreck it. Not in the short term, anyway.’

That was said with emphasis. It seemed to be the key.

He sat back, shifted his bottom to make himself more comfortable, and put his fingers together, a bit like a professor in a seminar. Then, after a short pause, he resumed.

‘I’m afraid, Maggie, I’m going to have to give you a bit of a lecture on Marxist theory here. You may have heard it already, at that short course at the Marx-Engels Institute in Moscow you attended just after we recruited you, you remember; that time when you told your parents you were going on a dirty weekend with a boyfriend. No, they didn’t believe it, either. (A friend? Unlikely.) They suspected you were going to a Young Conservative ‘do’. They entirely understood your wanting to keep that quiet. And it was a very short course, and rather dull and technical – the labour theory of value, and all that stuff – so you might have missed the important part of it, so far as your future career is concerned. That was to do with the coming revolution. This is where you come in.’

He leant forward, clearly excited. She could feel it. She didn’t think it was sexual – not, at any rate, for her. (There was a rather good-looking young waiter approaching.) ‘The thing is, Margaret, we want you to be a successful Conservative prime minister; successful, that is, in fostering unrestrained free market capitalism, castrating the trade unions, widening social and economic inequalities, and undermining the welfare state. Plus, a war or two might come in handy. Conservatives like those.’

The waiter cleared the tea things away. Anthony ordered a malt whisky for each of them; and something more for himself ‘later’ – she didn’t quite catch what. She hadn’t had whisky before, but she took a sip. It gave her a nice burning feeling, just behind what her posh friend Alan Clarke liked to call her embonpoint. She thought she might take to it. It could give her courage, too – ‘iron in the soul’. (Was this what the Scots called ‘Iron Brew’? She must check.) She was going to need plenty of that, if she was to succeed in this great if puzzling project that Comrade Anthony had mapped out for her. But to what end? It looked so – well – counter-productive. Unless he wasn’t what he was pretending to be, a KGB mole, but in fact what he seemed: an arty-farty reactionary.

‘Let me explain’, he said. ‘But first you’ll need a history lesson.’ That’s odd, she thought. Surely history was just kings and queens and dates. Whatever use could that be? But she listened anyway. The Iron Brew was helping her focus, in a pleasant, warm way. Her embonpoint hardened at the tips.

*

‘You’ll have read your Marx – some of it, at any rate. I don’t expect any of our comrades have read all of him, though in fact Kapital volume I has some rather good jokes in. Funnier than Poussin, anyway.’

Poussin? Another reference that passed her by. It sounded like a hair conditioner. Anthony sensed her discomfort.

‘An artist,’ he added, helpfully. Ah, that explained it. Daddy – sorry, Father – had not gone in for that sort of thing much. ‘He was French seventeenth century, idyllic landscapes with classical timeless figures; perfect representation of the aristocratic class values of his day. You can see why I chose him for my speciality – the ideal cover for a communist. Marx, of course, was against the aristos; more than that, he believed they were on their way out. Inevitably, according to the laws of our new science of historical materialism. I imagine, by the way, that it was the ‘scientific’ aspect that attracted you to communism, with your degree in Chemistry.’

Well yes, she thought. It could well have been. Science. So definite, so certain, so comforting.

‘By the time Marx was writing,’ Anthony went on, ‘the old feudal aristocracy was already on its way out, being rapidly displaced – again, inevitably – by the newly emergent capitalist middle class. That was obvious. It was what the philosophers of free market capitalism had been predicting for years, and what any fool could see happening around him or her in mid-nineteenth century Britain. The industrial revolution, free trade, philistinism, industrial slums, tight-arsed morality’ – he winced – ‘all that stuff. So that wasn’t a particularly clever observation on Marx’s part. So far, so liberal. But then he moved on. And this is where it gets really exciting.’

Anthony looked excited. Perhaps he really was stimulated by ideas.

‘The thing was this. The process wouldn’t stop there. Victorian liberals tended to think it did; that liberal capitalism was the highest and ultimate form of human social organization – the “end of history”, if you like. (That’s a good phrase. I wonder whether Comrade Fukuyama might like it?) Everything would get better for everyone. The world would get richer. People would be happier. There would be no more wars, or foreign imperialism, or even domestic crime. Armies and police forces could be disbanded. There would be enough “stuff” for everyone. Tyrannies would melt away. Superstitions would give way to rational thought – otherwise known as Protestant Christianity. Free competition would conduce to greater equality – yes, even that. Not many people know that’ – this said in his Michael Caine voice. ‘It would be heaven on earth, brought about by the liberation of the divine spirit of competition between individuals. Full stop.

‘But no. Marx had looked beyond this. It was difficult for him, because according to his own philosophy everyone’s thinking processes were bound by the assumptions, the climate of opinion, the ‘discourse’, as a later school of alleged philosophers put it, of his or her time; which is why you couldn’t get a decent salmon en croute in the Middle Ages. But Marx did. (Not get a decent salmon en croute – see into the future.) He glimpsed, albeit mistily, so far as its material details were concerned, the truly socialist society that was to come about in the future – was to, notice, because he saw that this too, like every other broad trend in history, was inevitable. First feudalism; then capitalism; then socialism: each stage following on from the other, naturally. And “naturally” because they didn’t require any human agency, or will, or policy, to give rise to them. It would happen anyway. But only in certain circumstances. – Are you getting bored?’

Margaret was, a little, but quite happily so. That could have been down to the three or four further whiskies Anthony had plied her with as he was talking. ‘Stop it,’ she giggled; ‘too much alcohol and I’m anyone’s.’ ‘Not mine’, quipped Anthony. Again, she didn’t quite understand.

‘So, what are these circumstances?’ she asked, which showed that she had been following the main train of his discourse, roughly. ‘I guess you mean when the time was right.’

‘Exactly!’ said Anthony, delightedly. ‘Gosh you are a bright one, Maggie! I must tell them back at the Lubyanka. They had their doubts when I picked you out of that bunch of tourists visiting the Royal Art Collection all those years ago. I liked the way you ignored the pictures but just sat on the bench with your face buried in Hard Times. They thought that indicated stupidity; I thought it marked you out as materialist material, if you’ll forgive the clumsy phrase. Just what we wanted. I guess you’ve never lost your admiration for Thomas Gradgrind? No, I thought not. You may be able to use that in your new career.’

‘So,’ she asked, ‘when will the time be right for socialism to displace capitalism – for our revolution?’ She imagined it would be when the trade unions and the Labour Party and the Church of England and the animal rights people and the vegetarians and academics and LRB contributors and all those other likely fellow-travellers, plus a few workers, had been thoroughly subverted and fallen into the laps of the comrades. That’s what she understood the latter had been working towards up to now. But no. According to Anthony, that was entirely wrong. It wasn’t a question of persuasion. It was a matter of events.

‘Let’s go back to Marx’, he said. ‘Remember him? A lot of so-called Marxists don’t seem to. They think of him as the leader of a revolution. To be fair, he did come to think of himself a bit like that just before his death, when all this philosophy went to his head. Incidentally, did you know that the London Police Special Branch were still keeping him under observation two years after his official death? Either they feared his breaking out of his grave in Highgate Cemetery, or they knew something we don’t – even in the KGB. Perhaps he faked his death in order to spend more time with his family. Or his mistress. Or playing cricket – I’ve often thought he bore an uncanny resemblance to WG Grace. Or the police were just fools. (That’s the most likely answer.) But there’s a nice potential conspiracy there waiting to be uncovered. Which, however, would have little bearing on our main concern today. I think.’

Gosh, these conspiracy theorists! thought Margaret. They do have such fun!

Anthony went on. ‘The point about the time being right is that none of these revolutions will work if the time is wrong. In the case of our revolution, it was wrong in 1917, when it is generally supposed to have broken out. That was in Russia, of course; but conditions were nothing like ready for it there. Industrialism and industrial capitalism were patchy; and the countryside in particular was still largely feudal – that is, two stages of historical development in arrears. Russian Marxists, however, were some of the most “advanced”, in organization and enthusiasm. They wanted their revolution then. They kept writing to Marx, and, after his (query) death, to Engels – “please can’t we have it now?” – only for Engels patiently to point out the scientific facts to them: which were – yes, you’ve got it – that the time wasn’t yet ripe. But they went ahead regardless, and succeeded in achieving a kind of revolution in 1917.

‘Even then, however, hardly anyone believed it was a satisfactory one, either practically – all that oppression of the “people”, who were supposed to be its beneficiaries – or theoretically. Lenin was troubled by Russia’s economic backwardness in 1917, but got around that by arguing that if you regarded global capitalism as a whole as having developed to its maximum, with imperialism being its “final stage”, and so internationally ripe for collapse, the Russian part of it could be regarded as its weakest point. That, however, would only convince meticulous ideologues if its collapse started a chain reaction across the rest of the capitalist world. There seemed hope for that for a while, but then it faded. (Lenin blamed imperialism, again.) The 1917 revolution clearly stood out then as having been premature. If you think about it, that makes good sense of the Soviet Union (and other communist states) today. Premature babies are not fully formed; can’t flourish in the wider (in this case capitalist) world; and as a result need incubators to keep them alive. The incubator in Russia’s case is her autocratic form of government – I grudgingly admit it – which is what we hope will keep the hope of socialism alive in a hostile environment, until it can live by its own physical resources. But it’s still far from satisfactory, from a theoretical point of view.’

*

Margaret had listened to this lecture with wrapt attention. She thought she understood it. (She’d seen incubators in her Domestic Science classes at school.) But she couldn’t quite see where it was all leading, apart from some rather depressing conclusions about her new-found faith. Nor could she see how it involved her. She was being asked to aid the development and success of the capitalist system she loathed. How on earth could that be reconciled with bringing the whole monstrous edifice down?

And then it came to her, in a flash. She was a bright girl, if she was led in the right direction. The Communist revolution had failed because the historical conditions for it were wrong. In particular, capitalism was not mature enough in the countries it was first tried in. Ergo, for the revolution to stand any chance of success, capitalism must be further developed until it was ripe enough for its fall. Marx – she remembered now – had predicted that this would happen due to internal faults in the system, contradictions, which would lead it to collapse of its own accord. (This was Marx’s true genius, Anthony pointed out – as an analyst of the capitalist system and its inherent flaws. Even in the later twentieth century he had never been surpassed in this field.) But only then.

And then she looked – or rather thought – around her. Capitalism didn’t seem to be doing so badly in Britain. People tolerated it. Conditions under it had certainly improved since her young days, in the 1930s and ’40s, with less poverty, and so far less radical opposition to it than between the wars. Parliament had used to have Communist MPs. No longer, unless they were dissembling; which simply meant that anti-capitalism was not a popular enough cause to be openly professed. Why was that? It went against all early Marxist expectations, which were of capitalism’s becoming progressively and naturally redder and redder in tooth and claw, until the people saw the savagery – inequality, poverty, unemployment, Chelsea football club and the rest – that underlay it, and could tolerate it no more. Competition would morph into monopoly, which would erect grand tyrannies to rival any statist one. Capitalism would take over the instruments of education and propaganda, which would leave ordinary people with no means to counter it. Then, because of ever decreasing profit margins – she didn’t understand the technicalities of this, with her rather basic economic perceptions (based on her weekly shopping), but she accepted it – things would become so bad that the system must collapse. But this wasn’t happening. The natural progression, or depression, on which the Marxists had so depended had been halted. Capitalism was acceptable. Why was that?

Put like that, the answer was obvious. Anthony smiled as he saw enlightenment flooding Margaret’s pretty face. (At least he supposed it was pretty. He was no judge. To him it looked hard and flinty.) The welfare state had intervened. Unemployment and sickness insurance had rubbed the rough, pointy edges off the capitalist system, so that ordinary people did not feel its inherent injustices any more. Trade unions had intervened to prevent the deterioration of wages that a ‘red in tooth and claw’ capitalist system clearly implied. This was mainly Labour’s doing, under Attlee and then Wilson; but even the Conservatives – influenced perhaps by the aristo-paternalistic strain that still remained in the party: noblesse oblige, and all that – had taken it on board. This was the particular problem that Anthony’s people were faced with. They understood Labour, though they despised it for trying to compromise with capitalism to shore it up. The Conservative party, however, was different. It was not playing the game as it was meant to. It was not capitalist enough to bring the Communists’ much longed-for Götterdämmerung about. It was – shall we say – somewhat ‘wet’.

‘So,’ said Anthony, his eyes gleaming quite fanatically by now. ‘You know what you have to do. Take over the Conservative party. Revive the “dry” side of it, which has always been there, but overshadowed recently by the “wets”. (That may have something to do with the Empire. You can’t run an Empire drily. The natives get uppity. But the Empire isn’t a consideration any more.) Get the capitalist juggernaut running properly again, unencumbered by regulation, taxes, trade unions, or any legislation designed to protect “people” from its downside. People will have to learn to put up with it. Their reward will be the tiny chance of their becoming rich beyond avarice, or decency; which, you can say, will benefit everyone because their wealth will “trickle down”. (It won’t, of course.) Those who can’t cope with this, through weakness or inability or moral scruples, will only have themselves to blame. Self-blame comes easily to a culture with Christian roots, however far back. I understand you used to be a Methodist? That may be a problem: Methodism in the past was generally associated with working-class radicalism. But you can change that. The parable of the Good Samaritan, for example, can be tweaked by suggesting that the Samaritan couldn’t have been as charitable as he was if he hadn’t have been an entrepreneur. (Just an idea.) Another idea would be to suggest that there’s “no such thing as society”. That might not faze the socialists, but it should put a smidgeon of doubt in the minds of the socially-minded – i.e. nice – people in your own party.

‘You’ll know what to do then. Undermine the welfare state, emasculate the unions, and so on; all in order to get the capitalist train racing more and more rapidly, until it crashes into the buffers. Then we’ll take over. The New Jerusalem. Easy-peasy. You can fling off your dowdy two-piece Tory-blue suits, ruffle your twin-set, and reveal yourself at the barricades, in your true identity, bare-breasted – if you like; that part isn’t compulsory – as our new Marianne.’

*

Margaret wasn’t sure who or what Marianne was, but she rather liked the sound of this. She imagined, pleasurably, her father turning in his grave. Perhaps they would make her Queen, in a socialist kind of way: Comrade Queen, perhaps – she thought she could develop the voice for it, with some training to get rid of the ‘Linkisheere’ – and put her profile on the coins. (Or would they need to abolish money? She wasn’t sure.)

But enough of these pleasant conceits. They might not come about. It was difficult to imagine capitalism being put through all its paces during the term – even, say, two or three terms – of a single prime minister. She assumed that Moscow had made contingency plans for that; was lining up a successor to her: another ‘dry’ Conservative, or even a Labour Prime Minister with enough gall – and lack of principle – to continue her work. The Russians, she knew, were supreme chess players, and knew when, in the interests of the long game, to sacrifice a Queen. In which case she would die unremembered for what she really was, and probably reviled for what she had seemed to be. She had a prevision of a young man in the future decapitating a statue of her. She wouldn’t blame him. But she would have liked him to know.

This was why she had decided to pen this account of that crucial meeting with Anthony Blunt, in the third person so that no-one could accuse her of vanity. It would remain a secret until the Revolution came, when British Communism’s true clandestine heroes could be revealed, and properly memorialised. Margaret would be disinterred and laid to rest at Karl’s feet in Highgate cemetery. Niall would lie nearby; together with all those others who served the cause selflessly, anonymously, and at such cost to their good names. She rather liked the idea of that – until she thought of the worms. That did make her a bit frit. But hey, this was all a while away. Until then there was work to do. And she was good at work.

 

CHAPTER II

Several years later

She was sitting in the garden of her dreadful mock-classical suburban villa – the philistinism had always been genuine – sipping yet another whisky, the sixth today, she thought, and looking back. So, that was that. She was ousted. Who was responsible for that: her party, the rabble protestors, or the hidden hand of Moscow, annoyed that with the poll tax she was pushing on too quickly too soon for the plan? She’d heard whispers that they had a younger and cleverer – if shallower – successor in mind, who was at that very moment being primed to complete the task. ‘Tony’, his name was supposed to be. Not her dear Anthony, surely? No, she remembered, he was dead. And de-knighted. She gave out a sigh. Well, she had protected him as long as she could. And he would no doubt join them all in Highgate Cemetery when the trumpets sounded. ‘Thank you, Anthony’, she whispered, in a prayer to the Great Collective in the Sky. ‘Your heroic deception will not have been in vain.’

‘What was that, Mumsy?’ It was son Mark, coming from the house behind her. One of the things she most regretted is that she had not let him into the plot, giving him, in company with a whole generation of what had come to be called ‘Thatcher’s children’, an entirely unsuitable role model to follow in life. (Carol had had a little more spunk. She wondered if she had suspected?) ‘Any chance of a few quid? That arms deal didn’t quite come off. And there’s this super wheeze to oust an African dictator I’ve been asked to contribute to. Led by an Old Etonian. It can’t go wrong.’ She’d heard that before. She wasn’t over-impressed with Etonians – hadn’t Eden, Macmillan and Home had been three of them? – which is why she had sent Mark to Harrow: her friend Winston’s school. For all the good that had done him. Stupid little prick. – Thirty years in the House of Commons had embellished her vocabulary somewhat.

 

… Abandoned for now. Probably utter crap. One reader has told me so.

 

 

 

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