Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

Thatcher to Mandelson: 'You can't trust the Irish, they are all liars'

Lord Mandelson said today that the only thing Baroness Thatcher ever told him was that the Irish were "all liars" and not to be trusted, writes Joe Churcher

The coffin bearing the body of Baroness Thatcher is moved from the Palace of Westminster, where it rested overnight in the chapel of St Mary Undercroft, as it makes it's way to her funeral service, at St Paul's Cathedral, central London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday April 17, 2013. See PA story FUNERAL Thatcher. Photo credit should read: Steve Parsons/PA Wire
The coffin bearing the body of Baroness Thatcher is moved from the Palace of Westminster, where it rested overnight in the chapel of St Mary Undercroft, as it makes it's way to her funeral service, at St Paul's Cathedral, central London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday April 17, 2013. See PA story FUNERAL Thatcher. Photo credit should read: Steve Parsons/PA Wire
Residents from mining communities near Barnsley put out banners on the day of the funeral service of Baroness Thatcher.
Residents from mining communities near Barnsley put out banners on the day of the funeral service of Baroness Thatcher.
Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Visit to Northern Ireland.  Director of the Belfast Tool and Gauge Company, Mr David Woods (left) discusses the workings of engineering components with Margaret Thatcher and department foreman Mr Robert McCullough at the factory.   6/3/1981
BELFAST TELEGRAPH ARCHIVE
Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Visit to Northern Ireland. Director of the Belfast Tool and Gauge Company, Mr David Woods (left) discusses the workings of engineering components with Margaret Thatcher and department foreman Mr Robert McCullough at the factory. 6/3/1981 BELFAST TELEGRAPH ARCHIVE

The Labour former cabinet minister revealed the 1999 exchange as he explained why he did not want to attend the former premier's funeral service.

"I didn't feel I knew her well enough" to apply for the tickets offered to peers, he told BBC Radio 4's Today.

"Although I helped to organise the Labour Party's opposition to her policies throughout the 1980s, I only ever met her once.

"It was the day I was appointed Northern Ireland secretary and our paths crossed.

"She came up to me and she said, 'I've got one thing to say to you, my boy ... you can't trust the Irish, they are all liars', she said, 'liars, and that's what you have to remember, so just don't forget it'.

"With that she waltzed off and that was my only personal exposure to her."

Lord Mandelson, one of the central architects of New Labour, has criticised the scale of the funeral but accepted the Iron Lady "reframed British politics".

"I think what she was right to do was to bring home to us the reality that Britain could not afford rampant inflation, that state monopolies needed commercialising, that personal tax rates were too high and that enterprise was too unrewarding," he said.

"She was also right to argue that deregulation can be a valuable spur to innovation and efficiency and of course she tackled what was then a very disruptive and irresponsible trade union culture.

"But the truth is also that in cutting back the state necessarily, she overlooked what the state can also do successfully."

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