In the late 1980s, when she began keeping a diary, Edwina Currie was the second most prominent woman in British politics - after Margaret Thatcher. Indeed, she was often spoken of as a potential prime minister. Her outspokenness and her lively, media-friendly personality won her a much higher profile than her status as a junior minister would otherwise have commanded. When she was forced to resign from the Government after warning of the danger signs of salmonella infection in eggs, she was already a national figure.
Opinionated, blunt and brutally honest, Edwina Currie looks at her career in Parliament and her secret affair with John Major before he became party leader. She talks about her fights with her driver, bitches about her colleagues, discusses the problems in her marriage, confesses her affair and shares her views on what the Conservatives are doing right and wrong through this time period. With her being known for being outspoken I was expecting good things from the book and I did enjoy it.
Living in Scotland during the Thatcher era was a hard time for most families and it would be very easy to believe that all the Tories are the same and have it in the poor. What interests me about these books is that it tells you which Tories were against things like the compulsory seatbelts in cars, legislation to tackle passive smoking, bed closures and pay in the NHS, Mad Cow Disease and the Poll Tax. It shows that there were those in the party who were unhappy at what Thatcher was doing, and the level of the infighting on various important topics. This is exactly the kind of thing that I like to read about in political memoirs.
Edwina talks a bit about the constant threat from the IRA, the fears that she had about using public transport in case of an attack and her thoughts about the terrible bombing in Enniskillen. She is very open about issues in her marriage and how she wanted more out of her life, something that her affair seemed to give her. She refers to John Major as 'B' in her diary when she wrote it at the time, no doubt to protect his identity in case her husband stumbled across it. It is in her 1991 diaries that she finally drops the 'B' and starts calling him by name. It is really strange to hear her talk about him in this manner as in my mind they are the most unlikely pairing ever.
I very much enjoyed the period that dealt with the downfall of Thatcher. Edwina is scathing in her thoughts about the plotters and Thatcher's stubborn determination not to give in to them. It was fascinating to see the way it all played out and how Thatcher threw her support behind Major, believing that he would continue with her policies and being disappointed when he didn't. I liked the bitching that was going on behind the scenes in the party over the leadership contest and the policies. There was a lot of detail about the behind the scenes stuff over who was getting which job and who was fighting with who, which I very much liked.
Entertaining to read.
Read October 2017.