How Far Did ‘Luck’ Play a Part in Margaret Thatcher’s Leadership Election Victory of 1975?

2477 Words Jan 16th, 2014 10 Pages
How far did ‘luck’ play a part in Margaret Thatcher’s leadership election victory of 1975?

As is typical of history, Margaret Thatcher’s leadership election victory of 1975 has produced many differing views from historians on the extent of Margaret Thatcher’s good fortune in her ascent to power within the Conservative Party. The central focus of the debate is whether her election had mainly been due to luck- events that she had no real control over and had ‘fallen her way’, or whether, although some luck may have been involved, it had mainly been Thatcher’s own personal attributes and doing that allowed her to gain an unexpected majority over Ted Heath.

Andrew Marr focuses predominately on ideological transitions within the
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Marr’s decision to form the basis of his chapter on Joseph’s relations with the Conservative gives interesting insight into the shifting nature of the party, but causes focus to be lost on Thatcher- Marr’s almost complete omission of describing Thatcher’s actions and her ideology, and instead portraying her as a ‘product’, or object, on which Josephism is based is flawed in that we are unable to interpret the extent to which Thatcher the person played a part in her success. He also sacrifices detail on other very relevant factors- for instance the response of the Heath camp and, as will be later discussed, the personal antagonism toward Heath that contributed to the success of Thatcher. Thus, Marr’s lack of detail (and therefore omission of crucial factors) on the subject reduces the helpfulness of the source in contributing to the argument.

Thatcher’s personal and political qualities had certainly been instrumental in her success, whatever the political events surrounding her. After all, Marr’s assertion that Thatcher won mainly due to amassing Joseph’s popularity raises the question why it wasn’t any ordinary MP that had won the election. Thatcher obviously had to distinguish herself in one way or another. John Charmley follows this line of argument, and focuses on the bravery of Thatcher- her decision to risk the consignment of her career to the scrapheap and to force a leadership contest had

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