Flat Earth News

An Enemy Says You are Shrill. Therefore, It Is Fact.

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Tagged: / Posted: 3 January 2009

This appeared in my local paper and I tracked it down on the web. I think this story is Flat Earth News. Whether you like Margaret Thatcher or not is irrelevent. The point is this: Just because someone in your past, who clearly doesn't like you, said you are shrill (a classic and lazy criticism of women politicians in my view) doesn't make it a fact. I am sure if we trawled all our work colleagues, someone, somewhere would say about us "I didn't like her, she was a complete cow". It is quite a different thing for a journalist to then say "XXXX was already demonstrating signs of being a complete cow" using some trivial office memo as "evidence" or as this story says Thatcher was "shrill....archives released Tuesday show". Show what? It shows that Thatcher had enemies and that some people didn't like her. So? That's politics. I am not British so I don't know of Lady Alma Birk but I do wonder how a proclamation by Lady Birk makes the so-called trait a fact? Finally, it is false. Anyone who has heard Thatcher knows she has a deep voice. Shrill in my dictionary means "high-pitched and piercing in sound quality". The whole story was just a beat-up of some out of date office memos. LONDON (AFP) – Shrill, publicity-seeking, demanding a good hairdresser: many of Margaret Thatcher's traits were already shining through in 1978, a year before she entered Downing Street, archives released Tuesday show. Thatcher, then leader of the opposition Conservative Party, is shown battling for a more public role in celebrations to mark 50 years since women got the vote in secret files only just made public. The then prime Minister James Callaghan initially wanted to stop Thatcher speaking alongside him at the opening of an exhibition to mark the date in July 1978. But he was warned against this and told the Conservatives would use it to gain political capital. "I am sure Mrs. Thatcher's public appearances do as much harm to her party as yours do good to ours," event organiser Lady Alma Birk, a government minister, told Callaghan in a May 1978 letter. "If you appear together, the contrast between your reassuring authority and her shrillness would be striking." There was another also thorny problem -- how to make sure Thatcher was not allowed in to sit with Queen Elizabeth II's sister, Princess Margaret, in the royal box at a gala theatre show marking the anniversary. In a briefing note to Callaghan the same month, his principal private secretary Ken Stowe warned Thatcher was going to get "a fair amount of the limelight" as Britain's most famous female politician. But this could be mitigated by keeping her out of the royal box, Stowe indicated. "I think with a mixture of sweet reasonableness and low cunning, we should be able to fix it," he added. Another official noted on a separate document: "PM says Mrs. T on no account to get into royal box." Thatcher eventually met the queen's sister in an ante-room. The file detailing the exchanges was released by the National Archives in London. Another one showed preparations for Thatcher's visit to Iran in 1978 and featured a note from then foreign secretary David Owen to the Tehran embassy featuring an unusual request. "Mrs Thatcher has asked if you could arrange for a good local hairdresser before your dinner on 29 April. The hairdresser should bring Carmen rollers," it said.

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