Your report (Tory MPs plot to avert benefit squeeze after humiliating U-turns, 3 October) quotes an unnamed cabinet member as saying: “We have not had true cabinet government since the days of Margaret Thatcher.” Really?
Does this minister not remember the Westland affair, which led to the resignation of two of the strongest members of Mrs Thatcher’s cabinet, Michael Heseltine and Leon Brittan? At the very heart of this dispute was the refusal of the prime minister to allow a discussion in full cabinet of the issues involved.
Even worse perhaps was the decision in 1984 to withdraw trade union rights from staff working at the Government Communication Headquarters in Cheltenham on national security grounds. The decision was taken here by a very small group of ministers, leaving most of the cabinet unsighted.
Whatever else may be said about Margaret Thatcher’s period of office – and I was in the cabinet virtually throughout – it certainly was not an example of “true cabinet government”.
House of Lords
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