Christopher Ogden
Christopher Ogden
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Maggie: An Intimate Portrait of a Woman in Power
ISBN: 0671667602
Maggie: An Intimate Portrait of a Woman in Power
Christopher Ogden, former Time Magazine bureau chief in London, interviewed Mrs. Thatcher several times. His book, "Maggie: An Intimate Portrait of a Woman in Power," follows the life of the British prime minister from her childhood to her present role. Ogden described Mrs. Thatcher as being exactly what Britain needed, "the right person at the right moment with the right prescription." In regard to international relations, Odgen said, "If (President) Reagan was the chief executive officer of the West during most of the decade...Thatcher was his chief operating officer, keeping the president on track and the Alliance from backsliding."
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Maggie: An Intimate Portrait of a Woman in Power
Program Air Date: July 1, 1990

BRIAN LAMB, HOST: Chris Ogden, author of "Maggie: An Intimate Portrait of a Woman in Power," you say in your acknowledgements that you interviewed Mrs. Thatcher at length for this book. What's that mean?
CHRIS OGDEN, AUTHOR, "MAGGIE: AN INTIMATE PORTRAIT OF A WOMAN IN POWER": Well, I did. She saw me a couple of times up in her family quarters and in her office up above the public part of Downing Street, although Downing Street isn't public in a way, say, that the White House is. She talked to me there. I traveled with her a good bit, too. I used to fly with her. Often I was the only Yank who would go along with the British group of reporters who would travel with her, and I've also interviewed her for Time. It's not an authorized biography at all, but she was very helpful in the time that she did give me.
LAMB: Do you have any sense of why she spent all this time around you?
OGDEN: Sure. You mean, other than the fact that I'm just witty and handsome and all of that? It was because she is very, very interested in what Americans think of her. She feels very strongly about the United States, feels a great kinship to Americans. There has not been a book written about her by an American that's covered these 11 years of her prime ministership. She's very interested in how she's presented in America. I think she figured I was serious, and so she gave it a shot.
LAMB: How different is she behind the scenes than what we see on "Question Time?"
OGDEN: Well, she's warmer. There's no question of that. I mean, she has great charm which you don't see, certainly, in public. But as far as the politics of things go, you don't see another person. You know, we sometimes have politicians who will say one thing on the record, and then they'll say other things off the record, or in private. And she's not like that at all. What she tells you in public is what she'll tell you in private. But there's certainly a much greater warmth and charm about her in private.
LAMB: One of the things that struck me as I read it -- and I saw this in maybe two or three places -- is that you suggest that under a lot of stress and tension that she broke down and cried, and I think one of them was after the Falklands incident when British soldiers, or navy folks, were killed. How do you know that she cried, and did that surprise you when you found it out?
OGDEN: I was a little surprised. She told me about it, and others who were in the war cabinet told me about it. She also cried at one point when her son was lost in the Sahara Desert for a few days. So, she can be quite emotional. But she's so steely in public, and she controls herself so much, and I think it's for a very specific reason. She is a woman in a man's society, and she's known for a long time that any weakness that she shows could be used against her. So, she's very careful about how she presents herself. In fact, to a certain extent, I think she's too tough in public, and that's hurt her some. But she can be very emotional in private. I must say, too, she's not averse to using tears when she thinks it might work to her advantage. She's a very good politician. I don't mean to suggest that that's what it was in the case of the victims and the soldiers and the sailors who were killed during the Falklands. I mean, she felt that there were her boys out there and they were dying, and she was very upset about it.
LAMB: How much time have you actually spent around her and when?
OGDEN: Well, I was there for four years this time. I actually started seeing her on a previous assignment in Britain. I was there in the early '70s -- '70, '71, '72 -- and she came in with the Heath government and she was secretary of education. So, I first started hearing about her then. When I returned to London in 1985, I immediately started traveling with her. I went off to the Middle East with her. I went off to a Commonwealth conference in the Caribbean with her, and subsequently I traveled with her to Africa and to the United States a couple of times. I went to the Soviet Union with her.

The people that travel with her -- it's a rather small group, about 15, 17 or so -- all Brits. As I said, usually I was the only exception. And she talks to you. You have very good access. It's unlike traveling with the president. I've covered several American presidents, going back to Jerry Ford. You're kept at a distance there; the security problems are somewhat different. But when you travel with the prime minister, you can really get in. You travel on her plane. She'll often have you up for drinks in the evening, to talk off the record. It's not that you get any great surprises, but you get a sense of what she's thinking about, what she feels about. She's a very gracious host. She'll have receptions for some of the traveling crowd, and you get another sense of her there. Then I did several interviews with her, and also I talked to her entire cabinet, virtually all her private secretaries and anybody I could find that had spent much time with her throughout her time in public office, and even in her home town and where she was growing up.
LAMB: Another little item that surprised me is that you said that Denis Thatcher, her husband, drives himself to the airport when he goes on a business trip.
OGDEN: Yes, it's very different there. It's much lower key in terms of -- there's none of this "imperial presidency" stuff. In fact, he does do that. If he's traveling privately, he'll drive himself out, put his car in the longterm parking lot and fly off to Spain to play golf with some buddies. He does a great deal of traveling on his own. They're very close. They're a good couple. They have a strong marriage, but they live quite separate lives, often. He has retired from full-time business, but he still sits on a number of boards of other companies. And he loves to play golf. He's crazy about golf, so he goes off and does that whenever he can. He's not all that interested in her political cronies. She's not interested in sport.

But the low-key aspect of the perks -- for example, if they have guests out to Chequers, which is the official weekend residence, she brings leftovers from the official meals back to Downing Street. Rather than toss them out, brings them up, puts them in the freezer, and then serves them for herself -- she often eats at home alone late at night -- or for Denis. They're frugal. They're careful. There's nothing like hiring a limo to take Denis to the airport.
LAMB: You went to London the first time in '52?
OGDEN: Yes, I did. My father was a journalist. He was on a writing sabbatical at that time. We're from Rhode Island, and he had a sabbatical and we went over. Winston Churchill was prime minister, and I was 7. So, he took me down to Downing Street one day, and Churchill swept out of the place, and I stood and waved at the great man. That was my first experience. Those were tough days in Britain.
LAMB: What's your father's first name, and what did he do when he wrote?
OGDEN: He's Mike Ogden. He was the editor for many years of the Providence Journal Bulletin in Providence, Rhode Island. He wrote long series of articles on that trip to Europe. We spent a good chunk of our year in London. Lived in the same neighborhood, in fact, where Mrs. Thatcher -- she was a newlywed at the time. She'd only been married a few months and lived only a few blocks away. I didn't know her. Wouldn't have mattered if I did, but it was the same neighborhood. It was postwar rationing -- a difficult time. I had a sense of it. I didn't like London much in those days. But it gave me a real feel for what she must have gone through.
LAMB: Do you like her?
OGDEN: I do. I actually respect her. I think I'm probably not unlike many people who have seen her. Appreciate what she's done. It's not been perfect, by any means, but I respect her as a leader. Like her in the sense -- I don't know her, so I don't mean to pretend that I know her in a social way at all, but she is different in private. She can be very much more charming, so "like" can come into it. But I think respect is the big thing. Many, many Britons can't stand her. They really don't like her at all, but they still vote for her because they do respect her.
LAMB: Denis Thatcher would not be interviewed for this, nor would Neil Kinnock. Why not either one of those men sitting down with you and talking about Mrs. Thatcher?
OGDEN: Denis Thatcher put a rule in some years ago when his wife became prime minister that he wouldn't speak to any journalists, and he's really stuck to it. The only one that he speaks to is his daughter, Carol, who is a freelance journalist. So, she's interviewed him several times, and I think he feels that he can trust her. He's been pretty clever about it, and knows that mostly he can hurt her if they get -- he's very outspoken, extremely outspoken. He's very conservative. Describes himself as nothing other than a "real right-winger," and I think he knows that he could probably pop off in a way that might hurt the prime minister.

So, he's stuck pretty closely to that rule. Neil Kinnock -- it's a strange thing about Kinnock. I have spoken to Kinnock any number of times as a reporter during my assignment during that period, '85 to '89. He just doesn't like talking to American reporters. He doesn't have a very good sense of press at all. I have a very good friend, who's a good friend of his, who said, "You ought to really talk to Chris. It's a serious effort, and you can help yourself and get across your point of view." I think he feels that American reporters have been overly critical, and he just doesn't want to give us the time of day.
LAMB: You're originally from Rhode Island?
OGDEN: That's right.
LAMB: Went to school at Yale?
OGDEN: That's right.
LAMB: What are you doing now?
OGDEN: I'm Time's chief diplomatic correspondent. I cover James Baker, I cover George Bush's foreign policy, and I write a column for Time's international editions called "A View From Washington," and at a stage where I can dip in and out of lots of stories that appeal to me.
LAMB: Chris Ogden is our guest. This is what the book looks like. Obviously, Mrs. Thatcher is right there on the cover. The book's called "Maggie." We thought it might be interesting to look at the photos you've got inside and the cutlines and get you to respond to each of those. First of all, let me ask you, did you write the cutlines?
OGDEN: I did.
LAMB: So that will all fit here.
OGDEN: There should be no surprises.
LAMB: Let's look at the first photo, which is described, "On October 13, 1925, Margaret Roberts was born in this spartan apartment. No running water, no indoor toilet, above her parents' grocery store."
OGDEN: It's still there. In fact, there's a restaurant on the ground floor now called the Premier Restaurant. Not very successful. In fact, they had a promotion when she hit her first decade in power last year and offered special prices for meals in honor of her, and it was pelted with eggs. But it still looks very much the same. She was born up on the top floor. You're quite right, there was no running water. They had a privy out in the backyard. She has a sister, Muriel, who is four years older, and her mother and father, Alfred and Beatrice, worked in the grocery store on the ground floor. Her sister Muriel was not at all interested in politics, but the father, Alf, who doted on Margaret, and Margaret just very, very close to her father, was later mayor of Grantham.
LAMB: How important was this grocery store to her political career?
OGDEN: It was very important because her father was so interested in politics, when the store would close at night, lots of friends would come in and they'd have just chat sessions about the politics of the day. Margaret would sit on the counter and listen in. She was an avid listener from the early days.
LAMB: The next photo, the message is, "In 1943, she was 18 and a student at Oxford." She's on the right. "Her father, Alf Roberts, was mayor of Grantham by then." Is that the way you pronounce it?
OGDEN: That's right.
LAMB: "He doted on her, while her 22-year-old sister, Muriel," on the far left, "was closer to their mother, Beatrice." You say in the book that she wasn't very fond of her mother.
OGDEN: No. In fact, she told me once that after the age of 14, she had absolutely nothing to say to her mother. And, very strange, but in her listing in "Who's Who," for years she did not list her parents, and then when she became a leader of the party, she listed that she was the daughter of Alfred Roberts. No mention of her mother, and to this day there is no mention of her mother in her official "Who's Who" listing.
LAMB: Where's her sister?
OGDEN: Her sister married a man, a farmer, who had once proposed to Margaret. Margaret turned him down, and he must have liked the family, because he turned around and then asked her sister to marry him and the sister said yes.
LAMB: The mother and father are both dead?
OGDEN: Yes, they are both dead.
LAMB: The next photo is in her days when she was educated as a chemist. She spent those years after graduation "working in research for a plastics firm and food manufacturer. She never liked the work."
OGDEN: She didn't. She got her degree in chemistry. Studied fairly hard, but not as hard as she might have. She was very diverted by campus politics. Went to work -- this job she hated, and she could wait to get out of it and get on with the rest of it. But she has the degree in chemistry, and she also has a law degree, which she pursued later.
LAMB: And you say in this next photo, "Margaret Thatcher has never been a great orator but, whatever the subject, is always prepared with an arsenal of facts."
OGDEN: She's quite extraordinary in this. She studies and works harder than any politician I've ever run across, and she can absolutely just knock over an opponent by her absolute mastery of it. She doesn't have soaring, lilting phrases. Those of you that watch her on C-SPAN's House of Commons "Question Time" coverage know that she's tough. She always knows what she's talking about, but it's not Churchillian rhetoric. But she knows what she's talking about.
LAMB: You write about the fact that at some point in her career, maybe when she became prime minister, she had a writer, somebody who wrote speeches for her, which was unusual for British politicians. Who was that, and when did she have that writer?
OGDEN: She only had the writer once she became the leader of the party where the speaking demands are much greater. But a normal member of Parliament who's not in a leadership position would never have a writer. They write all their own material, very much unlike our senators and representatives who have staffs to do this. It's just unheard of for a British politician not to write his or her own material. But once she got into leadership, she got a fellow named Ronnie Millar, who is actually a playwright and a theater director, and they've been a very close team now since '75.
LAMB: And he still writes for her?
OGDEN: He still writes for her.
LAMB: What does he do for her? What kind of things does he write for her that helps her?
OGDEN: Well, he actually crafts the words, but he does it in such a way that he reflects her. He has a wonderful flair. Someone once described him as kind of a "decaffeinated Noel Coward." And he has that. He's very theatrical, but in the nicest way. What he does, though, is, he has made her realize that she had to be an actress. She was very uncomfortable with that aspect of it at first -- how she projected herself. He got her to do that. As a kid, she loved being an actress. But Millar brought it out in her later and has been a really important part of her inner circle.
LAMB: The next photo shows the couple together, and you write, "Margaret married businessman Denis Thatcher, whose former marriage was a secret, when she was 26. She surprised guests with her choice of a blue wedding dress which she wore for years." Why was the wedding a secret -- his first marriage?
OGDEN: She has very Victorian ideas about that. She was embarrassed, and she didn't like the fact that he had been married before. In fact, her children didn't find out that their father had been married before until they were in their 20s, when she finally became leader of the party and journalists started exploring her background a little more. That's why she didn't wear a white dress. She has never met the former Mrs. Thatcher, who was also named Margaret, who went on and was later married. It was a wartime marriage. Denis said it was a mistake. He came back from the war and they had nothing in common, and so the marriage broke up. But this current Mrs. Thatcher will entertain no questions about it. It's not an incident that she cares to talk about at all.
LAMB: Given the tabloid press in Great Britain, have they done stories on the first Margaret Thatcher?
OGDEN: Oh, they did when it came out, sure, and they hunted her down. She's married to a baron. They have a title. She's quite a distinguished woman, but very low key. She certainly didn't want to trade on that at all. Denis is also 10 years older than Margaret Thatcher, and this other woman was also somewhat older than the prime minister.
LAMB: Makes him, then, how old today?
OGDEN: Well, he's 74 and a half, and she's coming up on 65. Excuse me, he's 75 already, and she's coming up on 65.
LAMB: Next photo is of the two kids, and you say, "Twins Carol and Mark have different personalities and don't get along well. Carol is warm and hard working. Mark, known for his arrogance, is prone to trade on the family name."
OGDEN: That's true. They are twins. In this picture I guess they're about 8. Mark is the elder by a couple of minutes -- caesarean section. Denis was not around for the birth. He was off celebrating a soccer match, a British victory. Mark now lives in Dallas, and his mother is crazy about Mark. She's about the only one who is. Close family friends say that Mark is really a difficult, arrogant, and unpleasant fellow when -- he's in his 30s now. I know I sound very rough on him, but I'm really reflecting what a lot of people feel about him. He's not particularly nice to little people. He has tended to trade on his name.

Carol, on the other hand, as I say, just a few minutes younger. They never got along. They fought growing up. She's a very kind person. She's tried not to trade on her mother's name at all. When her mother came into office, Carol went off to Australia. Got a job first on a sheep ranch, and then she got into journalism down there. She wanted to be as far away from all the falderal of the family and the spotlight as possible. She did come back to London, and she got a job on a newspaper there, so she's back at home. She feels very close to her mother. But Carol's never really made a success of it. She's had some relationships that haven't worked out, some boyfriends that haven't worked out. She's never married. Mark just married a couple of years ago and produced the first grandchild. His wife produced the first grandchild, which pleased the prime minister mightily. Carol's never been married, and she's a little on the heavy side. She works very hard, but she just can't seem to please her mother enough. If there were a favorite child, her mother clearly favors the son, which astonishes people who know them both.
LAMB: How old are they?
OGDEN: Let's see, born in '53. I think they're about 36 now.
LAMB: And what does Mark do in Dallas, Texas?
OGDEN: Well, Mark has had kind of a series of jobs. He's primarily been involved in the auto industry. He raced cars for a while, then he sold cars for a while. The woman that he married is the daughter of a Texas car dealer, quite successful. So, Mark has always been kind of on the fringes. He's been in business. He's had a few deals in the past that the British press have examined closely and wondered did he get the work through his mother? He's dropped out of sight a little bit now. In the 1987 election, he came back to Britain and asked one of his mother's advisors what he could do to help. The advisor told him very bluntly, "Leave the country," and Mark did.
LAMB: Next photo, you say, "Labor Prime Minister James Callaghan looked smug, but Britain was tired of strikes and ready for a change when Thatcher ran against him in 1979."
OGDEN: This was the campaign which led to her first win. Callaghan was a very experienced party pol, but, significantly, he'd never run for national office either. He became prime minister when Harold Wilson stepped down. So, Callaghan, while he had been around for a very long time, actually had never run a national campaign either. But he still felt -- I mean, this is an "old boy" society in many respects -- pretty good about his chances against the first woman candidate for prime minister in British history. What was his biggest problem, however, was the economy was just falling apart at that time, and Mrs. Thatcher had a different way to come at it. She proved a very tough competitor and ended up beating him reasonably handily.
LAMB: In that first election, how big did she win?
OGDEN: She won with a 40-seat majority. It's not as huge as the ones that she got in the second and third time. The second time she got 143, and the third time 101. But 40 was very solid. There was no problem with that. It was no tight squeak.
LAMB: The next photo is a group of people that are standing behind her as you'll see, and I'll read your cutline that you wrote. "Coming off a dramatic triumph in the Falklands, Thatcher could scarcely have lost in the 1983 campaign. A strong team of old and new boys surround her, including left to right in the back: Norman Tebbit, Geoffrey Howe, Francis Pym, Michael Heseltine, and Tom King. Left to right in the front: William Whitelaw, Mrs. Thatcher, and then Cecil Parkinson." There's a story behind each one of these people, but what about the Falklands in 1983?
OGDEN: Sure. She was in tough shape going into the Falklands. Actually, the Falkland War itself was in '82. But the economy had just started to turn a little bit. Most people hadn't noticed that. It really took the Falklands. In fact, when Argentina invaded the Falklands, and then Britain had to decide whether or not to fight back, most Britons thought the Falklands were somewhere off the coast of Scotland. And when this came up initially -- it was on April 1, as a matter of fact -- when the British ambassador announced at the United Nations that this had happened, they thought he was joking. They thought it was an April Fool's joke. Nobody had a clue about this godforsaken stretch of abandoned archipelago down toward the South Pole.

But the Falklands, she showed her real mettle there. Eight -- five hundred miles away, wasn't at all certain if Britain could win. She knew that if Britain didn't fight, the government would be swept out. Also, on a point of principle, she felt that the Falklands belonged to Britain, and she was determined to get them back -- didn't want a diplomatic resolution at all. Britain won after 10 weeks. It was not a joke as a war. A thousand people died, so it was pretty serious stuff. Britain not only won, but it won in such a big fashion that she suddenly became a warrior heroine. So, she had been in the doldrums in '81 and early '82 with lots of displeasure at how she'd been running things, but she just bottomed and started to climb at that point and came into the '83 election, which many felt was fought on the Falklands factor. She had quite a weak opponent. She was a glorious victor, and she just swept Michael Foot aside, her opponent. The opposition was also divided, and she was in her second term in very fine style.
LAMB: Our audience will recognize this next shot because, depending upon when they're watching this, they probably will see this following this "Booknotes" discussion. You say, "Except at state openings when Black Rod summons MPs" -- members of Parliament -- "to hear the queen speak, the House of Commons is a raucous, fighting pit where Thatcher has routinely trounced her opposition." And that looks like Black Rod right there standing at the left of the screen. Why is this a fighting pit and why is it raucous?
OGDEN: Well, I think it's considered the "mother of parliaments," and it's such a wonderful building and it looks as though it would be very staid and that the behavior would be very proper, and also the forms of address are quite antiquated. People refer to "my honorable friend," "my right honorable friend." It all seems very polite. But, in fact, the hollering and the hooting and the screaming that goes on in there makes it sound like the Boston Gardens during a Bruins hockey game. It's very tough. It's very raucous because the tools that they are using are oratory and rapier-like wit, and they barrack each other constantly. You have these wonderful kind of dichotomies between a politician who will refer to "my right honorable friend" or "the right honorable gentleman" if it's a member of the opposition.

Ken Livingstone, who was quite a left-wing Labor MP, at one point got up to talk about "the right honorable gentleman, the attorney general," whom he then proceeded to call an accomplice to murder. Livingstone, of course, was chucked out and banned from Parliament for a few days, but it's that kind of shouting that goes on. And if you're up speaking and you show a weakness, as C-SPAN viewers know, if there's a way to get through the armor, boy, there's just a wave of criticism. So Thatcher has worked that very well. She's very good on that kind of a tactical kind of speech in the House of Commons.
LAMB: When you see her, you notice from week to week that she has a style in a dress and the way she dresses. The reason I mention that, you say that she likes high style, high fashion.
OGDEN: I think 98 percent of Thatcher's life is politics. The other 2 percent, the subject that really interests her, is fashion. She's been very supportive of British fashion designers. She loves high fashion herself. She loves to be able to buy what she can. She's very careful about what she buys. She used to be pretty dowdy looking, but she has taken on an ever-greater interest in her appearance. She's dieted. She's spent a lot of time on diets. She's spent a lot of time on makeup. She looks much better now than she did when she came into office 11 years ago. I mean, she's thrived on it. She dresses much better, and sometimes to see her, it's really startling. But she pays a tremendous amount of attention to her appearance and to the fashion industry.
LAMB: Now that you've said that, our audience will appreciate the next picture. The cutline on this photo is, "The Soviets first called her The Iron Lady, and she has never given them or anyone else reason to change that label." This picture got an American politician in trouble. Why did it work for her?
OGDEN: It worked for her a lot better than it worked for Mike Dukakis, you're right. She has a thing about this femininity and this toughness, and I don't think it's completely resolved in her own mind. As a woman in this very male situation, she knows that she has to be tough, and she is tough. But that doesn't mean she's unfeminine, and she feels very strongly that she is feminine. That's one of the reasons why I think she goes out of her way to look that way, to look as nice as she can. But there is kind of a pulling and tugging to try to be a feminine-looking woman and yet without suggesting for an instant that that would mean that she might be perceived as weak at all, so she does wrestle with that frequently, I think. But being out on the tank with the boys, she had no problem with that because she's a very strong supporter of the military. Of course, Michael Dukakis has been very critical of the military. The troops like her a lot. The military commanders like her a lot. She's pretty much at home on a tank.
LAMB: Back to her husband, Denis, and, by the way, have you ever met him?
OGDEN: Oh, sure. Yes, I have met Denis and have traveled with him and had drinks with him. I just haven't formally interviewed him.
LAMB: You say, "Denis hates the nitty-gritty of politics and concentrates on his own business" -- let's see the photograph, if we could, here -- "which often takes him far from Britain. He is rarely happier, however, than when he's headed for the 19th hole." What do you mean by that?
OGDEN: He's a golf addict. He loves golf. He's got a 22 handicap, but he can play to about a 14. He's quite a good golfer. He's a left-handed golfer, as you can see from the picture, which is not reversed. The 19th hole reference, of course, is that he's what we call very "clubbable." Likes to hang out with the boys in the locker room. Is a former military man, and all of that aspect of militaristic and clubability is part of it. But, in fact, there's been an important element of it for Thatcher -- the prime minister, that is -- because he gives her kind of a direct line into all the 19th holes or all the country clubs and the men in the country. He is interested in the broader elements of policy -- he is very conservative -- but her political cronies and the detail of it just don't interest him. But he's very supportive of her.
LAMB: I thought you might be referencing, when you said 19th hole, which you talk about quite a bit in your book, that he loves the gin and he likes to drink and this sometimes gets him into a little trouble.
OGDEN: That's absolutely true. He upsets her sometimes, too. He likes his jar. He's certainly prone to bending the elbow, sometimes too often. He's a gin drinker and doesn't like to stint on it. He's been very careful about not embarrassing her, but sometimes it happens. Sometimes she gets a little upset when he comes home what she calls "kneeless." And once she was having a birthday party for him at Chequers on the weekend. He completely forgot about it -- came home, the party was virtually over, sat down, she shoveled some dessert into him -- suet pudding, as a matter of fact, to sop it up -- three portions of it, and pushed him off to bed. He jokes about it sometimes, and when he was asked once what he did, he said, "Well, when I'm not paralytic, I like to play golf." The "paralytic," of course, meaning the too much gin sometimes. But he's a very good-sport type, and I think, still, despite the fondness for the gin and the golf, he has not embarrassed her on it.
LAMB: "A golf widow who doesn't mind Denis heading frequently for the course" -- these are your words -- "Thatcher has few friends closer than her husband, but they have always maintained their separate lives." What do you mean by separate lives?
OGDEN: He goes his own way and she goes her own way, and it doesn't bother either one of them. He's off golfing a lot. He's off with the pals a lot, he's off in the clubhouse with the golf club a lot. Even when the kids were young, he would come home from work very late, and she would come home from work very late. When she first made it into Parliament, he was not around when she got her first job in government -- appointed to one of the leaderships. He was not around. He's been on the road over the course of their almost 40-year marriage now a tremendous amount of time. It doesn't faze her.

He's there for the really tough times. He's there with her during the campaigns. He was very assiduous about being with her during the Falklands. When she'd be very upset, he'd be up there at night and sit with her when they'd go over the action reports. But she doesn't have any real girlfriends, any women friends. She used to have a mentor or two that she was close to. She really doesn't have any of those anymore. The man who helped get her elected to Parliament, to the leadership, Airey Neave, was killed in an IRA assassination, and she's never been able, really, to replace him. She's somewhat uncomfortable about staying up late at night with a man politician to come over to the house if Denis is away. That's a little awkward for her. So, she relies on a very small staff who have become her family. She and Denis, when they're together, it's okay, but they're not together much.
LAMB: You say in the next picture, "Despite the good-natured grin, Thatcher is far more comfortable in the House of Commons or Downing Street than pressing the flesh on the campaign trail, a chore she barely tolerates." What's this?
OGDEN: Well, she's pressing the flesh there, that cow. In fact, Denis, who is in the background, said at that point, "If you're not careful, you're going to strangle that calf and we're going to have a dead one on our hands." She really hates to campaign and getting out there on the trail, on the hustings. She loves being in her office with the papers or being in the House of Commons bashing everybody that is attempting to challenge her. That's where she's comfortable. Neil Kinnock now, the Labor Party leader, is very uncomfortable in the House of Commons and would much rather be out campaigning. So they have a real difference. She does what she has to do, but she is not comfortable with it.
LAMB: The next photo shows the queen, and you say, "Thatcher, the eighth prime minister to serve Queen Elizabeth II, is apparently the Queen's least favorite. The two women are only six months apart in age, but a world of difference separates their outlooks." Why is she her least favorite?
OGDEN: The Queen considers herself monarch of all the people, and she is probably rather more liberal in policy -- or she is more liberal in policy, certainly on domestic policy -- than Mrs. Thatcher. She's upset by a couple of things that Thatcher has done. She thinks that Thatcher has been too tough on social policy and that she hasn't provided the kind of safety net for all the people who need help. And she's also very upset about Thatcher on one foreign policy issue about South Africa.

Thatcher has absolutely refused to go for sanctions against South Africa, to the point where it threatened the unity of the Commonwealth at one point, the group of nations that formed after the breakup of the British Empire. The Commonwealth is the Queen's baby, and to have Thatcher threatening the unity of the Commonwealth upset the Queen by virtually every account. So, they have differences on policy. They are also very different people, even though they are only six months -- Thatcher is six months older. But the Queen has a wonderful sense of humor. Mrs. Thatcher does not have a good sense of humor. The Queen has a great sense of wit. There are times when Thatcher can be pretty witty, but for the most part, wit is not her strong suit. Also, the Queen was born to high status. She never had to claw her way up to the top. Mrs. Thatcher was either upper lower class or lower-lower middle class by birth and has had to fight for everything, so they come at life from very different directions. People have said that if the monarch were a man -- if Prince Philip were the king -- Mrs. Thatcher and he would get along just fine. Again, it's the woman-woman thing. Mrs. Thatcher has trouble with other women.
LAMB: You say Prince Charles doesn't like her at all?
OGDEN: Prince Charles doesn't like her at all, although they've gotten rather closer. Prince Charles is very interested in the inner city, the environment, the homeless -- the social issues which are not Mrs. Thatcher's strong suit. He's, in fact, been very rough on her, in private, to others. But actually, they share a guru in Laurens Van der Post, the writer, and they've come rather closer. Mrs. Thatcher in the last couple of years has gotten very interested in environmental issues, primarily because of some private talks with Prince Charles. And Prince Charles has been supporting her on "let's be careful about how we approach this new Europe." So, they're coming a little bit together, but they're never going to be very close friends.
LAMB: Would you tell us about Balmoral?
OGDEN: Yes, sure. Each year at the end of summer, when the Queen moves from castle to castle, but goes up to Balmoral and has the prime minister of the day for a long weekend.
LAMB: By the way, where is that? And what is it?
OGDEN: It's in Scotland. It's west of Aberdeen, above the Highlands. It's a beautiful castle, and they have the Braemar Games up there not too far away every year, and some people who perhaps have seen pictures of great Scots in kilts hurling these cabers. That's not far from Balmoral. Mrs. Thatcher goes up there with Denis for a couple of days, and she just used to dread it. She used to be horrified at the prospect but, of course, she did it because it was the Queen's invitation. What happened was that after dinner the Queen likes to play games. She likes to play party games, she likes to play charades, and that just paralyzes Mrs. Thatcher. The thought of playing games and looking foolish in front of the Queen, she just finds that very difficult to handle. The Queen jokes about it. The Queen's got great self-confidence. She loves to laugh. They watched some terrible comedians. What used to be a great favorite of Prince Charles was a team of comedians called "The Goons," which were kind of like our Three Stooges. Mrs. Thatcher couldn't imagine anything worse than kind of laughing there in a room, forcedly, with her monarch over a performance by The Goons or playing charades, so it was very painful for her. But she's done it now for 11 years, so she's gotten a little used to it.
LAMB: Are you saying that Mrs. Thatcher and the Queen play charades?
OGDEN: Yes. They have, indeed, played charades together in the past.
LAMB: And then the other thing I'd like to hear you talk more about is that they meet every Tuesday night in Buckingham Palace when the House of Commons is in session?
OGDEN: That's correct.
LAMB: What's that about?
OGDEN: Well, the Queen always does that with her prime minister of the day. The Queen came in in 1952 when Churchill was prime minister, and so she's been doing it ever since. These are policy matters. They discuss what's going on and what the Queen wants to know and what the prime minister thinks she should know. The Queen has no power per se, of course, but is the symbolic symbol of unity in the country, and the prime minister has the power. That's a little tricky for them, too. But it's a session that's all business. It runs for about an hour. There are no refreshments served. It's straight to the nitty-gritty of state papers.
LAMB: The next photograph, our audience will recognize one of the people or both of them, probably. "Ronald Reagan and Thatcher form one of the most powerful political partnerships of the postwar era, rejuvenating the special relationship that Churchill first forged with Franklin Roosevelt." But you do tell a story about Mrs. Thatcher "going ballistic" against President Reagan at one point. What was that all about?
OGDEN: She was very upset when President Reagan invaded Grenada in 1983 without telling her in advance. Grenada is part of the commonwealth. The Queen is the titular head of state, and Thatcher was very embarrassed that she didn't know about it in advance and she had to tell the Queen about it, that one of the Queen's countries had been invaded by their great friend the United States. It was a very embarrassing situation for her, and she went crazy. She got very, very upset. She called up Reagan.

The president had told her, she thought, that he would keep her posted and would let her know before he did anything. Well, the president let her know, but he had already done it. When the prime minister heard about it, she called him up and just hollered at him, in fact, to the point where the president at one point held his phone out away from his ear. It wasn't that he could hear all that easily, but he could certainly hear her because she was so upset. They put it together later, afterwards. Thatcher never held it against him, but she was very, very upset about that one particular incident.
LAMB: You wrote that President Reagan, even though she was screaming at him, was laughing or smiling, saying to himself or to the group that "she'll get over it." How did you find that out?
OGDEN: Some of the people in the room actually told me about it. Yes, at one point he said, "Isn't she great? Isn't she great!" I mean, he liked her feistiness. To him, that was being feisty. He knew that she'd get over it. He knew that actually he was doing something that she really, in the long run, would like. I mean, they were removing a very Marxist head of state and essentially making the situation such that she would approve, but, of course, she couldn't approve of the way it was done. So, he didn't take this explosion all that seriously. He was getting kind of a laugh out of it. "Ah, feisty! Isn't she great?"
LAMB: Next photo is in December, 1984. "Mikhail Gorbachev was an unknown Kremlin official when Thatcher invited him to Chequers and decided she could 'do business' with him. Three months later he was running the U.S.S.R." What led to her deciding that she could do business with this man?
OGDEN: They're very similar. She had him at Chequers, which was a special case. No Soviet leader had ever been to this country house at all, and she wanted to do that to show him that she considered him special. She didn't ask for Gorbachev originally. She asked for a selection. She named three, and Gorbachev was one of them. The Soviets sent Gorbachev. They sat down for hours, and they started what became a pattern in their meetings. Get very intense discussion. They sometimes would shout at each other. I mean, she's clearly been an anti-Soviet throughout her life, in terms of an anti-Communist, so from a political point of view, they were at absolute loggerheads. But they were on the same wavelength. He, as a detail man, she as a detail woman. They know policy, they knew the nitty-gritty. She just felt that she could connect with him and also that he was a new-breed Soviet.

Again, this is five-and-a-half years ago when we were still going through our series of old-style Soviet leaders. I think that she always felt that she had a stake in kind of discovering him, and that's one of the reasons that they had a special relationship. But they share a background. They both had scientific backgrounds. They both had legal backgrounds. They were very young when they came into office. So, they have a lot in common. Gorbachev used to complain that he couldn't really talk details with Reagan the way he could with her, and so he seemed to be very pleased that that kind of relationship developed for them. They've gotten quite close.
LAMB: One of her trips to the Soviet Union played a role in the last election?
OGDEN: I think so. I was with her. I think she actually launched her campaign in Moscow. She went off in April 1987, and we were only back about three weeks when she called the next election. It was a triumph for her. She spent, again, a dozen hours or so in one-on-one discussion with Gorbachev. Held an interview session with some Soviet experts in which she absolutely blew them away in terms of expertise and all. The Soviets raved about her. She looked, again, a heroine at home. It was kind of a mini-Falklands, in a way, that she'd gone into the Soviet Union and produced this overwhelming performance at the same time Neil Kinnock was visiting Washington and be ing rebuffed by Ronald Reagan. The thought of a Tory prime minister launching an election campaign in Moscow -- I mean, I was astonished, but there was no question to me that that's exactly what she was doing.
LAMB: And then came President Bush, and you say under this photograph, "More comfortable with the details of foreign policy than Reagan, George Bush has a solid but more distant relationship with Thatcher." How do you know it's more distant?
OGDEN: Well, I know it from people very close to both of them. It is a different situation. She likes Bush, and she spent a lot of time with George Bush. Whenever she came to visit Reagan, she would be very careful to make certain that she briefed Bush as well. She was buying a little insurance, as a matter of fact. I mean, Reagan was certainly older. She knew that that could change at any time, and she also wanted another voice in the administration who knew where she was. And she could talk detail with Bush. But Bush doesn't need to go through her to talk to Mikhail Gorbachev. He can talk directly to Gorbachev, and has. He can talk directly to Helmut Kohl, and does, and can talk directly to Francois Mitterand in a way that Ronald Reagan didn't seem to be totally comfortable doing.

Also, one of the things she really liked about Reagan was that he was a true-blue conservative, and she questions the real depth of George Bush's conservatism. Some American conservatives do, too. She thinks that sometimes he's a little too quick to be flexible, a little willing to adapt and change his position a little too quick for her, so it's just not quite the same kind of relationship.
LAMB: Do they talk by phone very often?
OGDEN: Yes, they do. They talk, and they have letters and messages back and forth quite often. I actually think that the relationship is starting to improve a little bit. She, for a while, was looking like the real break on European unity and the real break in terms of improving relations with the Soviets, but she realizes that she can't be stuck in that kind of position. When she saw the president in Bermuda a few weeks ago, she worked very hard on this relationship. They had a very good session, much better than their past session which had been quite shrill and they'd been talking past each other. But in Bermuda, I've heard a variety of accounts now that all click together that it worked very well. She's trying to get her act on Europe pitched forward more. She's trying to take a more pragmatic approach to Britain's position in Europe, towards Britain's relationship with the Soviets vis-a-vis the United States. So, I think that the Thatcher-Bush relationship may be improving.
LAMB: The final picture inside your book, which is in the center section, your cutline reads, "Thatcher would like to go 'on and on' for a fourth term at least, but when the prime minister does step down, she and Denis plan to retire to this house next to a golf course in South London's Dulwich."
OGDEN: That's the house. They bought it a few years ago. She doesn't want to live there any time soon. Denis will not push her out. The common thinking is that the only way she would leave early of her own accord is if something were to happen to Denis, if he became very ill or incapacitated that she would probably step down, and they would retire. Barring that, she intends to fight again, and if she never lives in that house by the golf course, that will be just fine with her. She wants to run a fourth time, and she has to do that before June 1992. She probably won't do it until the very end, in the hopes that this real dip in her popularity right now -- that she can turn it around. But she can think of no place that she'd rather be than upstairs over the store -- still over the store -- at Number 10 Downing Street.
LAMB: On the back of your book here's this photograph of you and Mrs. Thatcher. When was this taken?
OGDEN: That was taken in early '89 just in a reception room right outside her private office. Then I had another interview with her in her private office, but that's fairly recent.
LAMB: How long have you worked for Time magazine?
OGDEN: Started for Time in Moscow in 1974.
LAMB: Do you miss being in London?
OGDEN: Yes, sure. London's a wonderful city. Anyone who's ever been there knows it's a great city. The action is in Europe these days, and so as a foreign policy reporter and as a political reporter, you kind of miss being where the action is. But this administration certainly is a foreign policy-oriented administration. George Bush is very interested in foreign policy, and he's got a very strong guy in Secretary of State Jim Baker, so I certainly have managed to keep my hand in. We get back to Europe a lot, get into London from time to time and get to lots of other interesting overseas places, so I can't complain.
LAMB: What's the best thing about being a reporter?
OGDEN: You're the first draft of history. You're there when it happens. I was in Gorbachev's office in February when we were discussing about the future troop alignment in Europe, and a few days later we were in Ottawa. The position completely changed. He'd said "no" there. We were in Ottawa with Shevardnadze and he said "yes." I mean, this is history happening in the space of minutes and hours. We go to Berlin with Baker and you see the wall and you talk to these people who are explaining to you what they're doing. We were in Romania talking to students, saying, "Don't believe this government. Don't believe this administration that succeeded Ceausescu. There's still a long way to go." I mean, this is history, and we're living it and breathing it, and we'll read about it years later. But right now, as a reporter, you can be in the middle of it. It's fabulous.
LAMB: You named your book "Maggie." Does she like being called Maggie?
OGDEN: You don't call her Maggie to her face, certainly, but she refers to herself sometimes as Maggie. I did it for a reason, which was that this is a real person, not just a prime minister, that there is a personality behind the image of the prime ministership. Certainly, Americans know her as Maggie. There wasn't going to be any question about who we were talking about.
LAMB: Her popularity is at an all-time low?
OGDEN: Yes, it certainly is.
LAMB: Will it come back?
OGDEN: She has the capacity to bring it back. She's dipped very low midterm before. In her first term she was way down. In her second term she was way down. She's down further now than she ever has been. This is the worst problem that she's ever had because the opposition is no longer divided -- still has problems. She has no enemy, outside enemy, really, to fight, and she is good when she's fighting others. That's her real strength -- to fight against the unions or to fight against the Argentinians. People are getting bored with her a bit. She's been in for 11 years. She can be pretty autocratic. She's not easy. She's still plenty tough. But she has the capacity to pull it out. The opposition, while it's more organized than it was, there are lots of questions about them. I think it'll be a much better race. I think it will be a close race. I think that she might lose it, but I think that to sell her short now would be a big mistake.
LAMB: Last question. The American polls show that she is very popular in this country. Do you have any idea why?
OGDEN: Yes. She has very American qualities, very American tendencies. First of all, she loves Americans. The United States has backed Britain in world wars. That's one of the reasons why she doesn't like the Europeans. But she has a lot of American qualities. She's up early. She likes to work late. She's a self-starter. She's entrepreneurial in a sense that she doesn't think anybody should wait for the government to do it for you. She's kind of a pioneer type, and she's willing to do it on her own. There are lots of qualities that she shares with Americans, and I think we recognize that in her.
LAMB: We just got started, and our time is up. This is Chris Ogden's book. He's with Time magazine, the chief diplomatic correspondent. The book looks like this. It's called "Maggie: An Intimate Portrait of a Woman in Power." Thank you for joining us.
OGDEN: Thank you.
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