Updated: Friday, 22nd May 2020 @ 2:15pm

Opposition to Falklands made Thatcher ‘more tense' than ever before as war heated up, says top Manchester lecturer

Opposition to Falklands made Thatcher ‘more tense' than ever before as war heated up, says top Manchester lecturer

By Reece Lawrence

A leading Manchester academic has described Margaret Thatcher as ‘more tense’ than she’d ever felt during her rift with ministers over the Falklands War.

Professor Andrew Russell, head of politics at the University of Manchester, commented on newly-released files that revealed Tory ministers’ doubts about the conflict.

The documents showed that the former Prime Minister had to deal with internal misgivings during the early periods of the war with Argentina in 1982.

Professor Russell told the BBC: “These archives do give us an insight into her personal world where perhaps she does admit to feeling more tense than she’d ever felt before.

“There’s a sense of uncertainty that’s not really there in the autobiography and not really there in the official papers.”

The disclosure of the private files revealed how ministers such as Kenneth Clark believed Britain should “blow up a few ships but nothing more.”

Another dissenting minister even suggested that the Falkland Islanders be offered money to settle elsewhere and allow Argentina to keep the islands.

In a referendum held earlier this month, Falkland Islanders voted overwhelmingly to remain a British Overseas Territory.

Professor Russell claimed that the period around the sinking of the HMS Sheffield in May 1982 was a particularly apprehensive time for the ‘Iron Lady’.

He added: “It clearly caused a moment of wobble.”

“Strategists within the Conservative Party were very nervous that once fighting starting public opinion would ebb away from the conflict.

“I think they were mightily relieved that that wasn’t the case – actually public opinion swung behind the war and behind the Prime Minister.”

Picture courtesy of Wiki Commons, with thanks.

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