Viscount Monckton has given a short but intriguing insight into his time in Margaret Thatcher’s 10 Downing Street, stating that “myopic disloyalty” driven by “Pooterish little-Europeanism” was the least satisfying part of his job.
Monckton, a hereditary peer who joined UKIP in 2009, spoke to Civil Service World about his experiences in the Thatcher government.
“The normal stint at Number 10 was two years. I enjoyed four. I wish it had been eight,” he revealed, while taking a chunk out of those around Prime Minister Thatcher who didn’t share her vision for global freedom.
He said: “I was saddened by the myopic disloyalty of those of the prime minister’s colleagues who eventually cast down one of modern history’s greatest leaders because the towering generosity of her global vision of universal liberty overshadowed their Pooterish little-Europeanism. Events have shown that she was right on all counts: but there is nothing more fatal to a political career than to be right when everyone else is wrong.”
The word “Pooterish” comes from the character Charles Pooter, in George and Weedon Grossmith’s Diary of a Nobody. Today it is synonymous with one who takes themselves too seriously, or overestimates their own importance.
Monckton also revealed the fears the political establishment had at the time, of allowing a Catholic so close into the heart of government.
“Sir John Hoskyns, the first head of Margaret Thatcher’s Policy Unit, asked me to join in 1980. Nervousness at letting loose a Catholic in Number 10 delayed my appointment for two years. I ended up praying weekly at Downing Street with the evangelical Protestants who had wanted me excluded. Our common enemy was the drab, atheistic humanism of a classe politique that today cheerlessly petitions our unelected masters in the European tyranny-by-clerk for the power to ban the wearing of crucifixes at work. I wear one daily.”
But his time in government was a pleasant one, he said.
“It was a delight to work for prime minister who was fascinated by ideas and – quite contrary to her carefully-nurtured reputation for steely inflexibility – was always willing to change even a long-held political opinion when confronted with hard evidence that it was untenable.
He added: “If I had still been there at the time of the Maastricht Treaty, I should have tried to prevent the handover of our law-making from elected hands here to unelected hands elsewhere. I was born in a democracy; I do not live in one; but I intend to die in one.”