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									    Mike Moriarty, Busan e-FM Inside Out Busan Historical Figures – Week 1: Margaret Thatcher, 1.01



1   Week 1: Margaret Thatcher – Destroyer of Ice Cream
    Tim: [Intro]

    Mike: This is a new segment talking about important people in history. We’ll talk a
    little about what they’re famous for, but what I’m also going to try and do is talk
    about some of the lesser-known aspects of their lives, hopefully in an entertaining
    way.

    Tim: So this is taking a behind the headlines look at some of history’s well-known
    figures?

    Mike: That’s exactly it.

    Tim: And which famous figure do you have lined up for our first week?

    Mike: Well, when I was invited to do this I asked if there were any suggestions on
    who I should talk about first, and the answer came back ‘how about discussing
    Margaret Thatcher’, and to be honest, my first thought was ‘how about not
    discussing Margaret Thatcher’.

    Tim: So she’s not a popular choice as far as you’re concerned?

    Mike: Well, it’s probably fair to call her one of the most powerful women in political
    history – first British woman Prime Minister. But her term was famously divisive, and
    being British – and much older than I readily admit to – I lived through it.

    Tim: And how was it for you?

    Mike: Those really were dramatic times. The UK had effectively had to ask for an IMF
    bailout in 1976 under the previous Labour Party government, so bad we nearly had
    to give up our nuclear weapons to save money [bailiffs]. Thatcher was effectively
    elected in the wake of that after the Labour Party limped on until 1979, but it
    represented a huge political shift because the Labour Party of the day were really
    strongly left-wing, and Thatcher, as we discovered – was strongly right-wing.

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    Mike Moriarty, Busan e-FM Inside Out Busan Historical Figures – Week 1: Margaret Thatcher, 1.01



    Tim: Those were very difficult times for Britain economically weren’t they?
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    Mike: Set about reforming economy – modernising industrial practice – reigning in
    union power. But what a lot of people don’t realise now is how close the UK came to
    economic disaster because of these policies – by 1980 inflation peaked at 22%, job
    approval hit 23% [terrible performance], unemployment hit 12.5% in 1982. But then
    the Falklands War changed everything and she regained her popularity.

    Tim: Did people understand there was going to be such a big shift when they
    elected her?

    Mike: I don’t think they did – it was a different media age – we had three TV channels
    – in total. These days most political candidates are analysed endlessly by the media
    and in blogs on the Internet, but back then information was much more limited.

    Tim: So before she became famous, who was the real Margaret Thatcher?

    Mike: I’m going to start with a fascinating fact that not a lot of people realise.
    Margaret Thatcher graduated from the University of Oxford with a degree in
    chemistry, and actually became a research chemist which was her profession for
    many years before politics.

    Tim: Do scientists often become politicians in Britain?

    Mike: No, but here’s another little-known fact about Margaret Thatcher related to
    her career as a scientist, and I promise you it’s so shocking that if there are any fans
    of hers out there, it might even cause them to re-evaluate their opinion of her. And
    it’s connected with ice cream.

    Tim: Ice cream?

    Mike: Ice cream. In the early 1950s she was part of a team working for a large British
    company which owned the most famous ice-cream brand in the country – these days
    that brand is owned by the world’s largest food company [Nestlé] – and Thatcher was

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    Mike Moriarty, Busan e-FM Inside Out Busan Historical Figures – Week 1: Margaret Thatcher, 1.01



    part of a team developing emulsifiers [allow you to mix two liquids that are normally
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    un-blendable] for use in ice cream.

    Tim: And what was the shocking result?

    Mike: The team Margaret Thatcher was a member of discovered a method of
    doubling the amount of air in ice cream, which allowed manufacturers to use less of
    the actual ingredients, thereby reducing costs.

    Tim: Does that mean ever since then we haven’t been eating real ice cream?

    Mike: I think it does. Although to be fair, in the 1980s there was a move to make old-
    style ice cream again, which these days are sold as premium ice cream. But I think
    this is something there should be more awareness of – Margaret Thatcher – scientist
    – doubler of air in ice-cream, reducer of actual ingredients.

    Tim: In later political life, she was known as an ardent capitalist - but what you’re
    saying is that even back then, she was a real cost-cutter.

    Mike: She was – but actually it’s that battle against inefficient state-owned industries
    and her attempts to reinvent the whole British economy that brings me to another
    aspect of Thatcher’s character that not many people realise. She didn’t just ‘talk the
    talk’ as many politicians these days do – she really lived that cost-cutting ethos on a
    personal level.

    Tim: You mean she lived frugally?

    Mike: She did – and it’s important to stress it wasn’t just for her public image –
    because the true extent of her attitude towards personal cost cutting wasn’t even
    revealed until secret government files were released in 2011. And it concerns how
    much was spent when she became Prime Minister and moved into her official
    residence.



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    Mike Moriarty, Busan e-FM Inside Out Busan Historical Figures – Week 1: Margaret Thatcher, 1.01



    Tim: Presumably this usually involves a lot of expensive decorating and alterations?
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    Mike: It does. For example, in 2000 when the British Deputy Prime Minister moved
    into a new official apartment, $153,000 was spent on renovation and $20,000 of that
    was just for the carpets.

    Tim: How much was spent by Margaret Thatcher?

    Mike: $307 was carpet-related – and just $2,800 was spent in total – which was
    shockingly cheap even by the standards of the day. Now when one government
    official saw the typed figures, he wrote on the sheet of paper “I find these figures
    impossible to believe.” – presumably because they were so low, after which Thatcher
    adds a note when she gets it which says “So do I!” but not because she finds them
    cheap.

    Tim: Because instead she finds them expensive?

    Mike: Yes, because $712 of that cost was for linen and pillows, so in response to this
    Thatcher goes on say why she thinks it’s too high: “We use only one bedroom”.

    Tim: In other words, how can you spend over seven-hundred dollars in 1979 on
    pillows and bedsheets for one room?

    Mike: That’s right – and when she spots the $29 cost of an ironing board, which
    arguably is more of a personal item, she writes “I will pay for the ironing board”.

    Tim: It seems in sharp contrast to the stories we hear so often about high-spending
    politicians today.

    Mike: [Mitt Romney: “I get speakers fees from time to time, but not very much
    ($374,000 in one year)]. Yes, there was a lot of economic hardship during Margaret
    Thatcher’s leadership, and she was a very divisive figure, but she never lost sight of
    the value of money.




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    Mike Moriarty, Busan e-FM Inside Out Busan Historical Figures – Week 1: Margaret Thatcher, 1.01



    Tim: Recently we’ve seen the release of the movie “The Iron Lady” with Meryl
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    Streep, which looks back on Margaret Thatcher’s life.

    Mike: Yes, “The Iron Lady” was of course the nickname given to her by the Soviet
    Union as part of their propaganda machine – it was meant to be derogatory – but
    unfortunately for them she liked the title and I think it only helped her popularity in
    the UK.

    Tim: Do you think the movie is helping people re-evaluate her leadership?

    Mike: The film has managed to emulate Thatcher in one sense – reaction to it has
    been equally divisive. It’s controversial because it frames her story in the context of
    who she is today. And her condition today is something a lot of people may not be
    aware of – even in the UK – because she is suffering from a form of Alzheimer’s
    Disease, which in my culture, is often a difficult thing to talk about openly – and
    because Margaret Thatcher withdrew from public life several years ago, the details of
    her condition are largely speculation.

    Tim: So is this another case of Hollywood taking liberties with the truth.

    Mike: I think so – [Thatcher’s former personal assistant “It bears little resemblance to
    reality”] The consensus in the UK among many who knew her seems to be that Meryl
    Streep’s performance is very good, but there are a lot of inaccuracies and omissions
    in the film. I’m sure it’s not how The Iron Lady herself would want to be remembered.

    Tim: Do you think she’d rather be remembered for her contribution to the science
    of ice cream?

    Mike: I’m sure she was very proud of her work. Politically, I’m a premium ice cream
    person, and I’ll always oppose her vision of super-soft air-filled ice cream with fewer
    ingredients. But I do recognise the contribution she has made, and I respect her
    conviction, if not always the outcomes, which I believe was inferior ice cream for all.

    Tim: [Wrap-up]
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