People Like Us Margaret Thatcher and Me
As a young civil servant, Caroline Slocock became the first ever female private secretary to any British Prime Minister, and was at Margaret Thatcher’s side for the final eighteen months of her premiership. A left-wing feminist, Slocock was no natural ally – and yet she became fascinated by the woman behind the ‘Iron Lady’ façade and by how she dealt with a world dominated by men.
As events inexorably led to Margaret Thatcher’s downfall, Slocock observed the vulnerabilities and contradictions of the woman considered by many to be the ultimate anti-feminist. When Thatcher eventually resigned, brought down by her closest political allies, Slocock was the only woman present to witness the astonishing scenes in the Cabinet Room. Had Thatcher been a man, it would have ended very differently, Slocock feels.
Now, in this vivid first-hand account, based on her diaries from the time and interviews with other key Downing Street personnel, Slocock paints a nuanced portrait of a woman who to this day is routinely demonised in sexist ways. Reflecting on the challenges women still face in public life, Slocock concludes it’s time to rewrite how we portray powerful women and for women to set aside politics and accept that Margaret Thatcher was ‘one of us’.
A remarkable political and personal memoir, People Like Us charts life inside Thatcher’s No. 10 during its dying days and reflects on women and power then and now.
This is a book of multiple fascinations. As an insider’s view of the final phase of Margaret Thatcher’s extraordinary premiership, it would succeed on its own, but Caroline Slocock’s account is much, much more than that. As the first woman to work as a civil service private secretary at No. 10, her observations illuminate the place of women at the top end of public service in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It is also deeply interesting on how to keep civil service impartiality in a No. 10 suffused with ideology. People Like Us is as rich in its human story as it is with the high politics. Historians will dip into People Like Us as if from a well.Peter Hennessy
She was no feminist but this book reveals that Margaret Thatcher was much more complex than her public persona would convey. Caroline Slocock’s unique insight challenges us to reassess our first woman Prime Minister and reflect on the misogynistic way women in power and public life are still treated. Margaret Thatcher was no sister to me, but after reading this book I feel I can be a sister to her.Sam Smethers, chief executive, Fawcett Society
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- People Like Us
- Hardback, 320 pages
- ISBN: 9781785902246
- 19 April 2018
- ISBN: 9781785903793
- 19 April 2018