Margaret Thatcher on apartheid: Sixteen quotes

Margaret Thatcher
08 April 2013

The late British PM's views on race discrimination, sanctions and the ANC

1. Article in the Finchley Times, December 8 1977

In her reply Mrs Thatcher assured the [anti-apartheid] protestors that the Conservative Party was totally opposed to apartheid. Her letter said: "We believe that the objective for South Africa must be rapid progress towards equal human rights for all South Africans, Furthermore, we have strongly condemned the recent repressive measures adopted by the South African authorities.... [However] In my view, isolation will lead only to an increasingly negative and intransigent attitude in the part of white South African".

2. Speech to the House of Commons July 25 1979

The policy of apartheid, with its emphasis on separating peoples rather than bringing them together, and all the harshness required to impose it on the South African population is wholly unacceptable. Within South Africa, as in the outside world, there is a growing recognition that change must come. It is in everyone's interest that change should come without violence. We must work by fostering contact, not by ostracism. We must be ready to acknowledge and welcome progress when it is made, even when it may appear slow and inadequate. We must not drive the South Africans into turning their backs on the world. We need to recognise the immensity and complexity of the problems they face. We must encourage progress in working out solutions to those problems.

3. Speech at Monash University (1981 Sir Robert Menzies Lecture) October 6 1981

Democratic governments have to maintain relations with many governments of whose actions and policies they disapprove. But that does not mean that members of governments, or for that matter heads of government, should refrain from exercising moral judgement.

Let me give some examples of what I mean. I cannot accept that any government is justified in pursuing policies which are based on discrimination against one citizen as opposed to another on grounds either of race or religion. It is a basic principle of civilised society that all citizens are equal before the law. A system based on apartheid cannot be defended. Nor can systems, whether clerical (as in Iran) or anti-clerical (as in the Soviet Union), which deny freedom of worship to some or all of the population.

4. TV Interview for CBS May 31 1985

 I think that we have to have talks with people, even if we disapprove of their policies, and I think that we might perhaps sometimes influence some of them more either to understanding our views and try to influence them towards our views, if we talk to them. We cannot if we do not. I disapprove of apartheid. You cannot determine a person's rights by the colour of his skin, but that does not prevent me from talking to Prime Minister Botha and making my views clear.

5. Statement to the House of Commons on her meeting with South African Prime Minister PW Botha, June 5 1984

On Namibia, we agreed that early independence for Namibia was desirable and should be achieved as soon as possible under peaceful conditions. We also agreed that all foreign forces should be withdrawn from the countries in southern Africa so that their peoples can settle their destinies without outside interference. The withdrawal of South African forces from Angola is an important first step in this process.

On the internal situation in South Africa, I expressed our strongly-held views on apartheid. I told Mr. Botha of my particular concern at the practice of forced removals and raised the question of the continued detention of Mr. Nelson Mandela . Mr. Botha gave me an account of his government's recent constitutional measures and of the appointment of a Cabinet committee to make proposals for the political future of the black population outside the homelands.

I believe that the South African Prime Minister now understands much more clearly where Her Majesty's Government stand on all the major issues. My talks with Mr. Botha are part of the process through which we and other western and African countries must continue to press for the sort of changes that we all want to see in southern Africa.

6. TV Interview for CBS, July 26 1986

I think a policy of sanctions would harm the very people in South Africa you are trying to help. Mrs. Helen Suzman, who's fought against apartheid all her life, from within South Africa, also takes that view, and I agree with her. I agree with a policy of trying to influence South Africa by other means. The present Government is moving forward in the direction we wish them to go, faster than any other. I remember when Mr. Botha came round Europe, many people received him, so did I. I particularly asked him to stop the policy of forced removals, British people feel extremely strongly about it, and thought if we could get that done away with we should be doing something, and after a time, yes, they have in fact stopped the policy of enforced removal. That was something very positive. There are many other things that are going on. Sanctions will harm, not help.

7. TV Interview for ITN (Nassau Commonwealth Summit), October 20 1985

I made it abundantly clear that we are totally against apartheid. Moreover, if you were to try to apply full economic sanctions, that would not persuade the government of South Africa to negotiate-far from it! They are a very strong country economically, South Africa. South Africa is the strongest economy in the whole of Africa: 25%; of the population, 75%; of the income. She could in fact manage, even if full mandatory sanctions were applied, for a very considerable time, perhaps indefinitely. That is not the way to persuade her to do what we want her to do, which is to come to a regime that will be stable. I do not believe the present one is, and that I think is a judgment the world has made on it. To be stable, you really cannot judge people by the colour of their skin. You have got, in fact, to make provision for able people, from whatever background, to be able to get into government and for black South Africans therefore to be able to take part in government.

8. Speech at Lord Mayor's Banquet, London, November 11 1985

My Lord Mayor, I detest apartheid. I couldn't stand being excluded or discriminated against because of the colour of my own skin. And if you can't stand a colour bar against yourself, you can't stand it against anyone else. Apartheid is wrong and it must go. Major changes are taking place in South Africa. We should welcome and encourage them.

The right way to deal with legitimate grievances is not by violence but by a genuine dialogue between the South African Government and the black community. For that dialogue to succeed there must be a suspension of violence on all sides. The whole Commonwealth agreed on that.

Economic sanctions are not the way to promote peaceful change. Sanctions do not work. Indeed they make problems worse. They would be a blow to all those firms and people who are in the forefront of efforts to end apartheid by giving black Africans more jobs and greater opportunities. Our goal is a future for South Africa which guarantees people of all races their political rights and freedoms and which preserves South Africa's economic success.

9. Remarks following statement on Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (Nassau) to the House of Commons, October 29 21985:

I agree with my right hon. Friend that the South African Government have taken more steps than were taken by any of their predecessors to start the process of dismantling apartheid. A considerable number of measures have been taken-the Mixed Marriages Act and section 16 of the Immorality Act have been repealed, almost all job reservations have been removed and forced removals have been suspended, the abolition of influx control and pass laws has been recommended to the President by his advisory council, and a common 819citizenship for all South Africans has been restored. These are considerable steps towards the process of removing apartheid-a process which will need to continue, and to which the dialogue is directed.

10. Interview with Hugo Young of The Guardian, July 8 1986

I do not like apartheid. It is wrong. I like valuing people for what they are, not for their colour or their background. Apartheid is wrong and it has to go, and it is going and I have seen President Botha when he came over ... I did receive him. He came down to Chequers and we had, I think, a whole day discussing things, including internal things in South Africa for a very long time, and we had then a long discussion about enforced removals, because this was a thing which was totally and utterly particularly repugnant to us and, as you know, we had a long correspondence about it and long discussions, and as you know, those have been stopped now. And a number of other things have been stopped. So things are coming in the right direction. Naturally, one wishes them to come faster. So the objective is the same. It is how to achieve the objective.

Press Conference after Commonwealth Summit, London, August 5 1986

We continue to believe that the goal of dismantling apartheid and establishing democracy in South Africa will be reached in the end by negotiation. It is that goal, in the context of a suspension of violence, which we seek. Racial justice with peace, not amid an economic wasteland, but the growing prosperity which a non-racial South Africa could enjoy.

11. Speech at opening ceremony of 32nd Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference, Westminster Hall, Westminster, September 25 1986

And over the past years the Commonwealth has in practice tolerated and accepted a very wide range of governments and policies. To cite an example: we all detest the system of apartheid in South Africa and want to see it demolished as soon as possible, but we don't quite agree how best to do it. There is nothing unusual in agreeing the end but disputing the means.

12. Press Conference at Vancouver Commonwealth Summit, Canada, October 17 1987

Just before you, I just remembered I did not answer the second part of the previous question put to me about the ANC, when the ANC says that they will target British companies. This shows what a typical terrorist organisation it is. I fought terrorism all my life and if more people fought it, and we were all more successful, we should not have it and I hope that everyone in this hall will think it is right to go on fighting terrorism. They will if they believe in democracy.

13. Speech to Foreign Press Association, London, January 13 1988

You will expect me to say something about my recent visit to Africa. It was, first of all, a thoroughly interesting and stimulating experience. I was received very kindly in both countries and the welcome from ordinary people exceeded all expectations. One purpose of my visit was to emphasise that there was no difference between us over the aim of getting rid of apartheid-only over the method by which that aim can best be achieved.

The idea that the collapse of apartheid can be achieved by a concerted push from outside to destroy the South African economy is, I believe, an illusion. Punitive sanctions would make the problems worse and do untold damage to black South Africans and their children as well as to South Africa's neighbouring states and their peoples. Moreover, it is progressive foreign companies in South Africa which have been in the forefront of dismantling apartheid. It would be a tragedy to prevent them from continuing what they do in this respect. I believe that the path mapped out by the Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group offers the best prospect of progress towards negotiations between all groups in South Africa, against the background of a suspension of violence on all sides.

14. Written Statement on South Africa ( Southern Africa: The Way Ahead, Britain's View ), October 22 1989

In Britain's view there have been important and positive changes in South Africa since the last meeting of Commonwealth Heads of Government in Vancouver. Seventy per cent of white South Africans voted for change in the recent elections and there is now a government firmly committed to the concept of negotiations. Peaceful political activity by the black majority has been accepted and eight of the political prisoners whose release has long been a goal of Commonwealth countries have been set free.

In this new situation, Britain believes that the Commonwealth should concentrate now on encouraging change rather than on further punishment. Whatever their intention, the effect of sanctions is punitive. All the evidence is that they bear hardest on the poorest and weakest members of South Africa's black population, depriving them of the dignity of jobs and the ability to care for their families. South Africa's population is growing very rapidly and the country needs economic growth to provide a decent standard of living for its people. Sanctions, in particular financial sanctions, have the effect of deliberately depriving South Africa of access to the funds which it needs in order to grow. They thus put out of reach the possibility of improving living standards for all South Africans. Sanctions contribute to poverty and misery in South Africa, whereas Britain's efforts are directed to helping relieve poverty and misery throughout Africa as a whole.

15. Article for Sunday Express, December 28 1989

In southern Africa, which I visited earlier this year, freedom and democracy are on the march. After the successful election in Namibia the release of Nelson Mandela, which I hope to see in 1990, would surely speed the end of the decaying system of apartheid in South Africa. And we are working hard for peace and reform in Angola and Mozambique, too.

16. Press Conference on South Africa (De Klerk measures), Downing Street, February 2 1990

Good Morning. I wanted to say a word of congratulations to President de Klerk for his far reaching, bold and courageous proposals to get negotiations going in South Africa, to bring an end to apartheid and to get a government which all South Africans can believe in and agree to. It opens the way for negotiations peacefully, which is what we have always wanted. It means that the approach that Britain has taken to this, which is not one of isolating South Africa but keeping contact with her and talking to her, of not having comprehensive sanctions, that approach of contact rather than isolation is now paying off and will be helpful to all of the people of South Africa and to the Front Line States.

Quotes extracted from speeches, transcripts and statements collected by The Margaret Thatcher Foundation

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 responses to this article

"Operation Milk Snatcher Rehabilitation" commences
"I think that we have to have talks with people, even if we disapprove of their policies, and I think that we might perhaps sometimes influence some of them more either to understanding our views and try to influence them towards our views, if we talk to . .more

by Jean Racine on April 09 2013, 01:46
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whoops you appear to have missed one...
how about this one...1987 Oct 17 Margaret Thatcher Press Conference at Vancouver Commonwealth Summit


[extract below]
Question (Cathay Television Vancouver)

Mrs Thatcher, . .more

by . on April 09 2013, 01:47
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....dot wake up
Dot read point 12

by editor in training on April 09 2013, 04:50
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@by editor in training on April 09 2013, 04:50
You are of course right...I sped read too fast....guilty as charged...

by . on April 09 2013, 05:16
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Freedom delayed is freedom denied.
May her soul rest in peace. She was one of those who consciously delayed the liberation of the majority of this country. She ,in actual fact , perpetuated the exploitation and oppession of the Black majority.Thousands of people died because Margaret . .more

by ZAPATA on April 09 2013, 08:43
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The lady was correct.
Margaret Thatcher was correct when it came to South Africa and far from thousands of people dying because of the excesses of the government, many more thousannds of people were spared death as a result of starvation that would have resulted had sanctions . .more

by Paul C on April 09 2013, 09:01
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She, like her ilk, are hypocritical in all they do. Thy say one thing and do the opposite. The real people of this world must hold accountable these forked tongue politicians, if we desire a prosperous, peaceful world.

It is clear, you can run . .more

by REALIST on April 09 2013, 09:07
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Realist makes perfect sense!

I too, would like to be a bee (not for BEE) in her coffin, just to hear the stinging eulogies from the many forked tongues.

by Fadeel Hassen on April 09 2013, 09:09
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Reply to realist.
Ha, ha, her soul is currently celebrating in heaven at the side of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Thats how.

by Paul C on April 09 2013, 09:22
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Politicsweb trying to MISINFORM us here, she was the STAUCH supporter of Apartheid
You deliberately forget this 1 important quote 'The ANC is a typical terrorist organisation ... Anyone who thinks it is going to run the government in South Africa is living in cloud-cuckoo land' - Margaret Thatcher, 1987. She proped up the Aparheid . .more

by Mageza We Skepe(KNMD) on April 09 2013, 09:33
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Mageza We Skepe - the ANC is / was a terrorist organization
No, the so-called MK "soldiers" who committed cowardly terrorist acts, are the ones who are burning in hell, including scum and vermin like Solomon Mahlangu, who deservedly choked at the end of a rope in Pretoria Central.

by Boer on April 09 2013, 09:38
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@Jean Racine
Simple. The ANC was a terrorist organisation, murdering civilian women and children. Thatcher and the British government did not deal with terrorists.

by Marduk on April 09 2013, 09:43
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Responsibility for deaths
Zapata, She pales into insignificance compared to the policies of your previous esteemed leader Mr Mbeki. He was reportedly responsible for at least 300 000 deaths because of his Aids denialism. At least she wasn't an idiot.

by Roy on April 09 2013, 10:13
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Tony Blair
"Economic sanctions are not the way to promote peaceful change. Sanctions do not work. Indeed they make problems worse"
Tony Blair should have taken a lesson from this lady, before imposing sanctions in Zimbabwe. 13 years later, Mugabe is still the . .more

by Mashudu on April 09 2013, 10:14
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@ the Realist & Fadeel Hassen
What a wonderful demonstratiion of your ignorance.
I suppose the two of you would have preferred to have a commie or a muslim takeover here. Well; it didn't happen then, but, by the looks of it now, it's not far off.
I would like to say more to . .more

by Rene' Gade on April 09 2013, 10:25
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where are the other quotes we know she said like calling freedom fighters terrorists??!!! Biased quotes... I do not want 2 doubt ur already doubtful editorial alliance!!

by Against Thatcher on April 09 2013, 10:34
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His Excellency Skepe
Shame man, you're foaming and hallucinating. Do remember to take the pills, you really should try.

by Marduk on April 09 2013, 10:36
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Against Thatcher
What a great Lady she was, the world really needs more of her kind

by jt on April 09 2013, 10:46
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@Against Thatcher
Had you read all the quotes you would not have needed to ask "where are the other quotes...?" Her quotes answer your question, if you don't understand normal speech don't argue. Sanctions would have hurt many more blacks but not helped solve the problem . .more

by Anthony Caenazzo on April 09 2013, 13:14
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After the 1987 Commonwealth summit, when she had again resisted the push for sanctions, Thatcher had said “the ANC is a typical terrorist organisation… Anyone who thinks it’s going to run the government in South Africa is living in cloud cuckoo land.”

by just saying on April 09 2013, 13:33
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Against all odds, & against wat u & Thatcher hoped for, we bit u @ the polls Baba. Whether u like it or not, yo President is black & it's gonna b like that for many more years to come. Never again, will a white man oppress a black man in this country.

by Sbuda on April 09 2013, 13:35
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@ Skepe
Why don't you go and find out where HIV comes from? Oh, of course, black men have not done ANY research to save themselves. It is only whites and Indians and Japanese etc. who do the research and design and produce the medicines. Why don't you just stop . .more

by John Logan on April 09 2013, 16:15
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Yes, we have a Black man as President. The Colour of the skin ir irrelevant but judge the man by his actions or lack of them. PLEASE - how has South Africa gone from the incredible leadership of Nelson Mandela to a Grade 4 Zuma and his Nkandla scandal and . .more

by THINKER on April 09 2013, 16:38
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Freedom delayed is freedom denied.
Freedom delayed is freedom denied. - have to disagree with that - youy only have to look at Rhodesia / Zimbabwe which was once the `bread basket of Africa` to see how it could all go wrong and result in suffering of many more - the steady ahead route was . .more

by Alan on April 09 2013, 17:08
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Spin Spin Spin watch the globalists spin this one,..
'The ANC is a typical terrorist organisation ... Anyone who thinks it is going to run the government in South Africa is living in cloud-cuckoo land' - Margaret Thatcher, 1987. She proped up the Aparheid goverments financially while bluffing us by . .more

by ANC is a typical terrorist organisation - read em an weep! on April 09 2013, 17:35
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i supprt you brother they can rave and rant, they wont change the status quo the ANC would rule until jesus comes back...he he he

by Fana on April 09 2013, 18:19
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Ahhhh Thatcher...
Just remember the Brits helped train that well known self-help liberation movement the "Khmer Rouge" and denied it for years until exposed...lots of public quotes about abhorring evil whilst covertly supporting evil...

by . on April 09 2013, 19:01
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...and as for her "home economics" policy...
she rode the wave of North Sea Oil that uplifted the economy of Britain by selling it off cheaply to Johnny Foreigner in order to cushion the effects of her destruction of all the average British person had sweated, toiled and sacrificed for...and for . .more

by . on April 09 2013, 19:11
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Mageza We Skepe(KNMD) on April 09 2013, 09:33
You are an idiot. Please read the relvant points above in their contexts and not that Thatcher never never was responsible for the ' cloud couckoo land comments'.
People who spread misconceptions should be banned

by carlf on April 09 2013, 19:21
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@Dot....as for her "home economics" policy...

....if what you say has any real purchase in fact, why did she enjoy THREE terms as PM of Mud Island ?

Indeed, now she has died, why do the vast majority of Brits sing her praises ?

Why do all political stripes regard "Maggie" as . .more

by John Austin on April 09 2013, 22:48
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@John Austin : Margaret Thatcher was indeed an EXCELLENT British PM; but you're wrong about dot.
You got it wrong! History is not dot's weak point; he's not paid to educate, but to talk up the ANC and denigrate the perceived "enemies" of the ANC, and that often means telling half truths, & lying & distorting the truth. Basically dot's a refined . .more

by Mute Fool on April 10 2013, 00:17
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by Karooseun on April 10 2013, 08:25
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Maggie was an apartheid supporter through thick and thin!!
Maggie Thatcher is no different from Mangosuthu Buthelezi, Hellen Suzman and many others who spoke against apartheid but acted contrary to the struggle for freedom. The "constructive egangement" with the apartheid regime she kept harping on about was . .more

by Jabulani Afrika on April 10 2013, 09:47
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ANC correctly defined by Iron Lady
The ANC has proven that they are nothing more than terrorists, with South Africa currently under the control of thugs.
Apartheid was wrong, and Thatcher stated so.
However, apartheid being wrong does not make the ANC particularly right, does it?

by Concerned on April 10 2013, 11:15
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Love it
The history revisionists are out in force from the dark underbelly of the ANC it seems. She was against apartheid, period. The reason South Africa is slowly becoming the next Zimbabwe is because FW De Klerk did not heed her warning about negotiating with . .more

by Miksa668 on April 10 2013, 13:36
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South Africa could have been worse off
South Africa today has big problems but there is hope. If it had not been for Margaret Thatcher things would have been much worse with little hope.

by Balder on April 11 2013, 12:45
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One wonders what the Iron Lady would have made of the result of negotiations , the freeing of Mandela , the unbanning of the ANC and SACP ? with the end result being Zuma and a failed state ?
but then
The real and complete story of the ending of . .more

by Bibliophile on April 12 2013, 09:02
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Maggie - the Greatest Leader of the Past 50 Years...
...with the possible exception of Ronald Reagan (?) These two leaders buried Marxism and Communist hegemony, restored individual freedoms and personal achievement to pride of place, rescued their economies and created jobs aplenty. Need one say more?

by martin on May 21 2013, 09:50
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Has anyone shown this article to the Western Cape's Mad Max of the ANC?
The other day he said that Thatcher wanted to 'kill us' (as in the ANC, black and white people who supported the party etc), but then he usually talks tripe, anyway.

But one question for today's ANC: They dislike her because she opposed sanctions . .more

by Rod Baker on May 21 2013, 10:09
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The Iron Lady
I concur with martin. Margaret Thatcher was the best British P.M. since Sir Winston Churchill. She took the UK and hauled it kicking and screaming out of the sewage pit that it was, dictated to for decades by the commie unions.
These Thatcher-haters . .more

by Red on May 21 2013, 21:51
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Bloody Racist
Reading all the statements, particularly this one, "We must not drive the South Africans into turning their backs on the world", it appears that Thatcher was talking about South Africa and South Africans as if she was only talking about South Africans of . .more

by Mgodoyi on May 21 2013, 23:40
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the bigger picture
The quote " if you want something talked about, ask a man, if you want something done, ask a woman" this epitomised Margaret Thatcher.
Dont get lost in the past machinations of international politicians, bemoan the lady as much as you like, as did . .more

by scarsegit on May 22 2013, 00:10
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