Sunday, August 09, 2009

The Queen Mum: Anti-Thatcher and Pro-Miner


I've never been a fanatical royalist, but I always had a soft spot for the late Queen Mother.

1. She was a very sweet old dear.
2. She loved horse racing- and in particular National Hunt racing.
3. Her favourite television programme was Dad's Army.

And there's a fourth good reason to admire the Queen Mum: she was anti-Thatcher and supported the miners.

In the Sunday Express Camilla Tominey quotes Kenneth Rose, who says of his long-standing friend:

“There was no rapport with Thatcher. She would have thought that Thatcher’s economic measures were quite harsh. The Queen Mother’s Bowes-Lyon family had firm associations with County Durham so she knew quite a lot about the miners and didn’t like the miners to be criticised. I remember being at an event with the Queen Mother in the Eighties when a woman tried to curry favour with her saying something along the lines of ‘Aren’t these miners terrible’, but the Queen Mother bristled at the comment, and said she thought the miners were right. She said ‘We in Durham’ – she pronounced it Durr-um – ‘think they are rather patriotic’.”

Rose expresses the hope that the Queen Mother's support for the miners is included in the forthcoming official biography which is released next month. But seeing that the biography has been written by the hard-line neo-con William Shawcross, we shouldn't hold our breath.

The Queen Mum's backing for the miners certainly puts those so-called 'leftists' who did not support the 1984 strike to shame.

8 comments:

Robin Carmody said...

Well, the royals have historically tended towards the same sort of organic, traditional-conservative view of Britain as Peregrine Worsthorne, the sort that Karl Naylor often wistfully alludes to here - and such a view indeed saw Thatcherism as overtly harsh and aggressively logical and inhumane. Given the choice, I'd much rather have right-wingers who saw each part of the country as part of an internal fabric which could be fitted into a wider picture - Macmillan's government worked as well as it did because traditional aristocratic ideas of "noblesse oblige", the sort Cameron's lot simply don't understand, fitted very well with the Attlee settlement - than right-wingers who simply see each area as a market to be sold to the highest bidder, with no particular feeling for its history and atmosphere.

I only wish the old-school Tories (obviously not counting the QM, who could not take a stance openly) had stood up more strongly against the market fundamentalists rather than meekly acquiescing on the grounds that *anything* that weakened trade union power must be a good thing. Nonetheless, it has been widely stated that the Queen (who also believed in the post-war settlement and was ill at ease with the aggressive acquisitiveness unleashed during the 1980s) and the Queen alone talked Thatcher out of using the Army against miners during the strike - and if she did, she performed a great act in favour of the (unwritten, but let's not split hairs) constitution and rule of law, because for any government to use its own army against its own citizens is, in effect, a declaration of civil war.

Neil Clark said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Neil Clark said...

Totally agreed. I think the takeover by the free market right of the Conservative Party was a tragic event- as was the takeover of Labour by faux-leftists like Blair.
Re: the difference between the old school 'One Nation' Tories like Perry Worsthorne and the Thatcherite neoliberals, and the contempt the latter had for the working-class, I think this little story about Perry and the hard-core Thatcherite Sir Alfred Sherman is very illuminating.

http://neilclark66.blogspot.com/2006/09/hideous-history-of-sir-alfred-sherman.html


In his ‘appreciation’ of Sherman in The Times, Bruce Anderson, relates how at one Conservative Party conference, Sir Peregrine Worsthorne, a patrician Tory of the old school, offered Sherman a lift. As they walked to the car, Sherman was denouncing the working class: to a man they were idle, shiftless, useless and good for nothing. They arrived at the car which had a very flat tyre. Neither of them had a clue what to do, but fortunately a passing member of the working class observed their plight and changed the tyre. Worsthorne waited for a change in tone, but in vain. Sherman merely continued with his diatribe.

David Lindsay said...

Margaret Thatcher once described the Queen as "the sort of person who votes for the SDP". No one could mistake Prince Charles for a Thatcherite. And now this.

Kate Middleton's quite near ancestors were miners at a Bowes-Lyon pit.

Dan said...

Shame we never had the Queen Mother for Prime Minister in the 1980s and not Thatcher the Milk Snatcher!

jock mctrousers said...

I may have got this wrong, but I seem to recall reading that the QM was also a fan of Mr Hitler.

Robin Carmody said...

Well, we certainly shouldn't sentimentalise her based on her admitted feeling for a regionally-based "patchwork society" in Britain: she undoubtedly sympathised with some pretty dodgy ideas, and Chamberlain's appearance on the balcony of Buckingham Palace when she was Queen consort and he had supposedly just secured "peace in our time" has been described, probably correctly, as "the most unconstitutional act of the century".

I had to laugh after she died when Puff Daddy's tribute to The Notorious BIG - who the QM would presumably have called a "blackamoor" - was played on most radio stations' emergency tapes as though it was about the QM.

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