chapter  1
5 Pages

The Road to 1979

The loss of the February 1974 election, and Edward Heath's failure to adopt new ideas in opposition, proved decisive turning points for Mrs Margaret Thatcher. Granted more time to think by being relieved of office, she threw herself into a ferment of intellectual analysis. Mrs Thatcher had become the first ever woman to lead the Tory Party, and to the surprise of many had won by a comfortable margin. As she had found after she became party leader in February 1975, winning was only the beginning of her struggles: she still had much left to prove, and many 'enemies' to outwit. The Conservatives' 1979 manifesto, uninspiringly entitled The Conservative Manifesto 1979, was, as Mrs Thatcher wished, high on general principle, but light on specific commitments. She could portray the Tories as the party of law and order, offering Britain a new start after a prolonged period of chaos amounting almost to anarchy.