Thatcher papers reveal split over Falklands

William JordanUS Elections Editor
March 22, 2013, 9:22 AM GMT+0

“We are making a big mistake.”

Baroness Margaret Thatcher's personal documents from 1982 reveal a Conservative Party still deeply split on whether to go to war even two weeks after Argentina’s invasion of the Falklands on April 2nd.

Kenneth Clark, a junior health minister at the time, held a view shared by Timothy Raison MP and summarised in the papers as, “Hopes nobody thinks we are going to fight the Argentinians. We should blow up a few ships but nothing more."

One Tory politician invoked the 1956 Suez Crisis. "We are making a big mistake. It will make Suez look like common sense," said Ian Gilmour, according to the documents.

Also made public was an early draft of a letter to US President Ronald Regan that showed Baroness Thatcher bristling at attempts by the Americans to broker a peace deal. She said, "In your message you say that your suggestions are faithful to the basic principles we must protect. I wish they were, but alas they are not." A softer tone was used in the draft that eventually reached President Reagan.

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