AS ONE of Margaret Thatcher’s iconic handbags goes on display at the Victoria & Albert Museum, it is worth noting how this accessory became a symbol of power that terrified colleagues, opponents and inquisitors alike.
“When Maggie was really up against it, she would put her handbag on the Cabinet table and take out a well-crumpled paper,” recalled Ken Baker, the then Education Secretary.
“This was the brief that came from no-one knew whom – a friend, or someone who had rung her up. Many are the Ministers who have cursed the contents of that wretched blue handbag.”
Yet such reminiscences mask a serious point a week before polling day. Mrs Thatcher would never have shied away from a gruelling TV inquisition. Unlike Boris Johnson, she would have relished the challenge of the interrogation and it would have been Andrew Neil, now the pre-eminent political interviewer, fearing a proverbial ‘handbagging’ from a feared leader who was also a details person.