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Inconsistent and insincere
on 4 November 2013
This is a book that has three distinct and stylistically different parts, which have difficulty merging into one story. The first part covering early life simply re-hashes all the old "living over the grocery shop" clichés and brings absolutely nothing new to the subject. I expect it was simply a re-write of the draft Harris made for her auto-biography.
Then we come to the years in power and we learn that everything that Thatcher did which was good was as a result of Harris's advice and every disaster came from ignoring his wise counsels. The footnotes are always insinuating what an influential adviser he was albeit discrete and unseen. Clearly Harris sees himself as an economic theorist and so goes into an unnecessary level of technical detail on economic lever pulling. (this might have been interesting if it had been clearer). The actual instigators of the economic policies: Howe, Lawson, Lamont are attacked as "Wets", "too clever by half" and other caricatures without explaining that they were the authors of these policies as well as the executors and in what way they were at odds with MT. Insinuations of plotting and disloyalty are believable, but Harris doesn't make it clear what was the policy disagreement.
Then suddenly she is out of office. Harris now starts to speak patronisingly of MT as an elderly aunt confused and cantankerous. Lot's of "poor old thing" stuff! Somehow it doesn't ring true as Harris never made any attempt to portray her as likeable at any earlier stage of her life.
There is one intriguing detail: there is a letter reproduced in introduction and on the back dust cover from Thatcher dated 2005 encouraging Harris to write her biography and regretting she would never get the chance to read it!!! Does this mean Harris only intended to publish after her death? Or, did MT have a premonition? Strange indeed!