Private Thatcher files released

Wide divisions within the Conservative party over how the Government should respond to Argentina's invasion of the Falklands have been revealed as Margaret Thatcher's 1982 private papers are made public.

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Margaret Thatcher praised 'friendly' Robert Mugabe

In private papers released today, Margaret Thatcher mentions a number of figures who would go on to play a significant role in public and political life, both at home and around the world.They include an early meeting with Robert Mugabe, who had been elected as Prime Minister of Zimbabwe in 1980.

Margaret Thatcher with Robert Mugabe Credit: Tim Ockenden/PA Wire

Now widely condemned over violent land seizures, Mugabe was at that time still considered a hero by many after his role in the guerrilla movement against white-minority rule.At a lunch held in his honour on May 19, 1982, Lady Thatcher praised him for his "friendly and open manner".

She added: "A successful Zimbabwe will undoubtedly contribute to the peace and stability of Central and Southern Africa as a whole, and we wish you and your colleagues well in your endeavours."

The papers also include a very brief mention of Tony Blair who was elected as MP for Sedgefield the following year and a short reply to a letter from Jimmy Savile.

MPs urged Thatcher to 'keep calm' ahead of Falklands invasion

Ken Clarke, along with Sir Timothy Raison, MP for Aylesbury, are attributed in private papers from 1982 with the view: "Hopes nobody thinks we are going to fight the Argentinians. We should blow up a few ships but nothing more."

Lady Thatcher had marked the comment with two blue biro lines.

Sir John Page was said to be "desperately depressed" by the situation and Ian Gilmour, later Baron Gilmour of Craigmillar, said: "We are making a big mistake. It will make Suez look like common sense."

Five MPS urged Lady Thatcher to "keep calm" adding "we can get away without a fight" while others were "all taking a hard line".A similar note the following day described Stephen Dorrell as "very wobbly".

It adds: "Will only support the fleet as a negotiating ploy. If they will not negotiate we should withdraw."Meanwhile referring to Keith Stainton, the note reads: "Intends to attack the Government. His wife has large interests in the Falklands."

Backroom dealing before Falklands revealed

Until now the backroom deliberations within the Conservative party over the Falklands have remained largely private but the notes are among those released by the Margaret Thatcher Archive Trust as it opens its files from a year which came to define Lady Thatcher's career.

They range from Ken Clarke, then a junior minister, arguing to "blow up a few ships but nothing more" to West Devon MP Peter Mills who warned "my constituents want blood".

Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher pictured in 1982 Credit: PA/PA Wire

On April 6, four days after the incursion, the Chief Whip, Michael Jopling, prepared a note for the Prime Minister saying: "You may like to have general re-action to events in the Falkland Islands."


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