Belfast Telegraph

How Thatcher's husband tried to strike Paul McCartney off No 10 guest list

By Sam Russell

Margaret Thatcher's husband Denis vetted a celebrity guestlist for a showbusiness reception planned by Number 10, marking it with a red pen and questioning the inclusion of Paul McCartney, newly released documents show.

The reception in April 1988, to be attended by Thatcher and her husband, was to thank the 45 celebrities who attended the Wembley Rally during her 1987 General Election campaign.

Thatcher decided more guests were needed and a longer list of "a possible 229 without spouses" was drawn up - including suggestions from former culture secretary John Whittingdale, then political secretary to Thatcher.

"He was not then the grizzled elder statesman of the present day," said Chris Collins, of the Margaret Thatcher Foundation. "This was the young man whose evenings were spent watching Meat Loaf at the Hammersmith Odeon.

"His idea of a good party was to invite Paul McCartney, Freddie Mercury, the Jaggers." However, Denis Thatcher went through the proposed guestlist with a red pen, marking ticks against those he "would personally like to see included" and question marks beside "those who, I believe, do not help".

In a note to the Private Office, he wrote: "Whilst I accept of course that not everyone who comes to our receptions are necessarily on 'our' side I find it both unpleasant and embarrassing to entertain those who publicly insult the PM."

He explained that more than one red tick "means super person and a known friend and wonderful to have them here".

His absolute favourite was comedian Eric Sykes, while there were also ticks for Rolf Harris, Andrew Lloyd-Webber, Dame Judi Dench, Ronnie Corbett and golfers Tony Jacklin and Nick Faldo, among others.

Question marks were placed beside names including Paul McCartney, Sir David Attenborough, Sebastian Coe, Shirley Bassey and magician Paul Daniels.

Mr Collins said it was "unusual" for Denis Thatcher to involve himself to such an extent, and could be explained by an earlier episode in which Thatcher considered suing BBC Radio 4's Today programme for libel over a show aired in January 1988.

Denis Thatcher criticised the show's satirical story, which was entitled Thatcherism: The Final Solution, writing that never had "so foul a libel been published against anyone, let alone a Prime Minister".

The archive can be browsed from Monday by visiting www.margaretthatcher.org

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