When Arthur Met Maggie
Although their relationship was one of the most important in post-war public life, they never met. But for a year in the 1980s Arthur Scargill and Margaret Thatcher were on opposite sides of a conflict that decided some of the most important questions in contemporary Britain. More than that, they were central to the process of bringing traditional British politics to an end. It was a meeting all right, in every sense but that of being in the same room together, a monumental clash of ideology and temperament.
But if other actors had filled the principal roles in that confrontation, the miners’ strike of 1984-85, would the story have had a less dramatic ending? Or again, did one rushed decision ten years previously unexpectedly turn Scargill and Thatcher into such towering figures? Could one small event have such a momentous outcome? The end of the class war, the creation of New Labour, the wrecking of the Conservative Party, a shift of power and the bewilderment of the average voter were among the consequences. It was the most important of the critical junctions that shaped our domestic world in the last forty years of the twentieth century.
In ’When Arthur Met Maggie’, Patrick Hannan measures the elusive influences of character and chance against the juggernaut of historical inevitability. He explores the way in which small decisions, accidents, delays, mistakes and premature deaths played their part in bringing us to our present condition and considers where the next stops might be on the clattering journey through the political landscape.