Da, Prime Minister

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How about neither?

She famously declared that Mikhail Gorbachev was a Soviet leader she could "work with." And now documents obtained by The Guardian, after a long Freedom of Information Act battle, reveal that Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher did indeed work with the future Soviet leader, when he was a top official to the brittle, expiring General Secretary Constantine Chernyenko—to prevent Moscow from funding the sinister, pro-Soviet leader of the National Union of Miners (NUM), Arthur Scargill.

As The Guardian writes, "The NUM leader, Arthur Scargill, had stepped up efforts to raise cash from the USSR; Soviet miners had responded by donating more than $1m from their wages." Well, as is pointed out further down in the piece, Soviet miners didn't donate anything; rather, leaders in the Kremlin, who were skilled in the requisition of property and wages, would use money from state coffers to underwrite Britain's striking miners, who threatened to topple the conservative government inhabiting Number 10 Downing Street.

Scargill the Intransigent, who outraged mainstream opinion by sending a NUM leader to Libya in search of funds, just six months after a British policewoman was shot and killed by Qaddafi's goons in London, effectively destroyed Britain's influential trade union movement. But it was with a vital assist from Thatcher, whose mettle he consistently misjudged. The Guardian on the PM's behind-the-scenes diplomacy:

The Thatcher government intensified the diplomatic pressure. Three days before Gorbachev's visit in December, Thatcher ordered that the Soviet ambassador be summoned to the Foreign Office. There, David Goodall, a senior diplomat, told him that if the Soviet government had authorised the donation, the British government "would take a very serious view and regard it as an unfriendly and unwarrantable interference in British domestic affairs"…

At Chequers, Thatcher personally confronted Gorbachev and protested that the Soviet Union was meddling in British matters and would help to prolong the strike by giving the cash. Gorbachev stonewalled, claiming that he was not aware of any such donation. It later transpired that a month before the Chequers meeting, Gorbachev had himself signed the papers authorising the donation.

But Thatcher's diplomatic offensive worked: no donation reached the British miners during their year-long strike. Gorbachev had embarked on his effort to reform the sclerotic Soviet state and concluded that the wiser option was to continue cultivating the British prime minister for the sake of relations between the two countries. Sacrificing the interests of the British miners was the price to be paid for not upsetting the so-called Iron Lady.

I wrote about the fall of the Berlin Wall here and about a recent trip to Libya here.

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  1. C’mon, you know they fucked.

    1. Thank you for that.

  2. Maggie was awesome.

    1. Sports Illustrated: Maggie Thatcher Melts Mauritius
      http://tinyurl.com/25dn434

  3. Maggie had more balls than every PM combined since Churchill.

    1. Margaret Thatcher in restaurant with her male cabinet: orders steak, waiter asks: ‘for the vegetables?’ Thatcher replies ‘steak for them too..’

  4. I’m slightly amazed at the Guardian‘s take there. I just don’t expect pro-Soviet Thatcher hate spin anywhere anymore. So that’s my annual reminder to bring my cynicism in for a tuneup.

    1. The Guardian has had trouble adjusting to the loss of its lady-love, Mother Russia.

      “Didn’t you get the memo?”

    2. I’m slightly amazed at the Guardian’s take there. I just don’t expect pro-Soviet Thatcher hate spin anywhere anymore.

      Maybe I don’t understand British English, but I definitelly didn’t read it as a pro-soviet, anti-Thatcher “hate spin”.

      1. I believe the point is that the Guardian refers to the “donation” as though it were genuinely coming from Soviet miners.

        Only a true Sovietophile could believe that.

        1. The Soviet miners paid for it, they just didn’t authorize it.

          1. In Soviet Union, money donates itself!

      2. The last line of the excerpt gives it away:
        Sacrificing the interests of the British miners was the price to be paid for not upsetting the so-called Iron Lady.

        It would have been worth a foreign power using bloody (truly) money to bring down the government of that horrible woman because it was for teh childrens minerz!!

  5. I LOVE THE EIGHTIES

  6. No history of the Cold War is complete without considering the important contribution of the labor movement…

    The contributions of people in the American labor movement–like George Meany, Jay Lovestone, organizations like the American Institute for Free Labor Development and the American Center for International Labor Solidarity…were so important.

    People can argue about the relative importance of the labor movements when talking about the fall of the communism…relative to things like the Pershing Missile deployments in Western Europe, SDI, the USSR getting bogged down in Afghanistan, general economic collapse of the Soviet system, etc…

    But the contributions of the labor movement–especially what the American labor movement did–seems to have been largely forgotten by history.

    There was a time when AFL-CIO was among the loudest voices arguing for free trade because they believed American labor could compete with anyone in the world. Believe it or not!

    There was a time when the Soviet Union supported labor unions in the United States too–the AFL-CIO under George Meany played a big role in rooting communism from the labor movement here in the United States.

    It shouldn’t be a surprise that the Soviets were aiding labor movements in the UK–they were doing that everywhere.

  7. Scargill the Intransigent . . effectively destroyed Britain’s influential trade union movement.

    What a shame that the Brits threw that opportunity away.

    1. Scargill for Prime Minister!

  8. There’s always a soft-spot in my heart for a union-buster.

    1. That’s because she made a soft spot in their heads.

      With her handbag.

      In which she carried a brick.

      Probably.

  9. Compare this to Ted Kennedy and who knows how many other Democrats who tried to get Ol’ Birthmark to ignore Reagan.

    1. Ted Kennedy was what Soviets called a useful idiot.

  10. It later transpired that a month before the Chequers meeting, Gorbachev had himself signed the papers authorising the donation.

    Why does this not surprise me.

  11. The NUM leader, Arthur Scargill, had stepped up efforts to raise cash from the USSR; Soviet miners had responded by donating more than $1m from their wages.

    The surprising aspect is they tolerated this shit without putting a bullet in the head of Scargill. In the long run, it proved unnecessary, but how would you have known that a naked and treasonous attempt to destroy you national economy for the purpose of advancing the interest of a hostile foreign sovereign would not have succeeded without being more ruthless than the agressors?

  12. The Guardian must be the most disgusting, pro-totalitarian newspaper in the world. They almost make the NYT seem libertarian. It’s sad that they are one of the most ‘respected’ papers in the UK.

    Their sports page is pretty good, ‘though.

  13. Maggie Thatcher is one of my heroes.

    “Iron Lady” was supposed to be an insult. Didn’t quite work out that way though
    .

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