FEATURES

Thatcher, the ANC and the "cloud cuckoo land" misquote

The Ratcatcher
09 April 2013

FT, Richard Dowden and the Huffington Post continue to recycle false and long refuted claim

The death of Margaret Thatcher seems to have led to a resurrection of the claim that the former British Prime Minister stated, in 1987, that "anyone who thinks [the ANC] is going to run the government in South Africa is living in cloud-cuckoo land".

A report on the Huffington Post today claims that Thatcher "went so far as to describe the African National Congress in 1987 as terrorists. ‘Anyone who thinks it is going to run the government in South Africa is living in cloud-cuckoo land,' she said of the ANC at the time."

On the African Arguments website meanwhile Director of the Royal African Society Richard Dowden began an article with the same quote: "She [Thatcher] once declared the African National Congress to be a ‘typical terrorist organisation... Anyone who thinks it is going to run the government in South Africa is living in cloud-cuckoo land'."

A feature on the Financial Times website headed "Margaret Thatcher in her own words" also attributed the same quote to Thatcher: " 'The ANC [African National Congress] is a typical terrorist organisation . . . Anyone who thinks it's going to run the government in South Africa is living in cloud-cuckoo land.' 1987"

The first part of this quotation, though almost never placed in context, can be attributed to Thatcher. The second part cannot. As this website has observed previously:

At the Commonwealth Summit in Vancouver in October 1987 Margaret Thatcher opposed efforts to impose the stringent sanctions on South Africa that the ANC was demanding. In reaction the ANC's representative at the conference, Jonnie Makatini, said Britain's refusal to support these measures would result in "the further intensification of the armed struggle" and also in attacks on British corporations in South Africa. (Christian Science Monitor October 19 1987) (In March the previous year MK commissar Chris Hani had warned that the ANC was "going to step up attacks against those factories, transnational corporations and monopolies, which exploit and maltreat the South African working class and in the process it is more than probable that white civilians will lose their lives.")

In a press conference Thatcher was asked by Alan Merrydew of BCTV News what her response was "to a reported ANC statement that they will target British firms in South Africa?" She replied that: "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."

The transcript of the press conference [held on October 17 1987] contains no mention of the supposed cloud cuckoo land remarks. In fact this "quote" appears to stem from a comment her spokesman, Bernard Ingham, had made during the conference again in reply to question from the press. According to the Washington Post  (October 18 1987): "When a Canadian reporter suggested that the African National Congress might overthrow the white South African regime [by force], Thatcher's spokesman responded, ‘It is cloud cuckooland for anyone to believe that could be done.'"

The Margaret Thatcher Foundation - which has collected "Between 1945-90 every statement made by Margaret Thatcher ... as far as can be known" - also investigated the origin of this quotation back in 2006. The Foundation's website editor noted at the time that "The widely-quoted "cloud-cuckoo land" remark attributed to MT ... is apocryphal. As far as can be traced she never made a public comment even similar to this."

Click here to sign up to receive our free daily headline email newsletter



 

Comments

If you come across comments that are injurious, defamatory, profane, off-topic or inappropriate; contain personal attacks or racist, sexist, homophobic, or other slurs, please report them and they will be removed.
 
 responses to this article

Cloud cuckooland part of quote may be incorrect...
...but the remainder of the quote and its context that she thought the ANC was a typical terrorist organization cannot be so easily dismissed...

Prime Minister [Margaret Thatcher[

Just before you, I just remembered I did not answer . .more

by . on April 09 2013, 01:59
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

and whilst talking of recycled false and long refuted claims...
How about Thatcher's Government denials about training the Khmer Rouge forces or those allied to them?

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article34539.htm

by . on April 09 2013, 02:09
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

Right again Maggie
Margaret Rhatcher got this right. This ANC may be the ruling party but they are not running South Africa in the normal sense... They are certainly running it into the ground though. With their their looting of public funds for personal use and their . .more

by gary gordon on April 09 2013, 04:21
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

ANC terrorism
So McBrides bombing was not an act of terrorism? The necklacing of people in the townships with the approval of ANC high-ups was not terrorism? then what is terrorism?

by ww on April 09 2013, 07:02
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

Maggi my friend.
She was THE one and only IRON LADY. She will always be remembered as such.
She was quite right about what she actually said and meant about the ANC and South Africa and, not what has been misquoted by journalists and opposing politicians who were . .more

by Rene' Gade on April 09 2013, 08:29
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

And how right she would have been if she HAD said it!
Just look at the job the ANC has done - destroyed education, stoked unemployment, created institutional ineptitude and fostered corruption and patronage on a grand scale.
This IS cloud cuckoo land dudes - African style !

by martin on April 09 2013, 08:50
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

Terrorists
Unfortunately for the ANC supporters and their ilk Margaret Thatcher was perfectly correct in stating that the ANC were a bunch of terrorists. Bombings, kidnappings, murders, necklacing, riots - all of these things were aimed at destabilising a . .more

by So be it on April 09 2013, 08:50
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

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, 09:06
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

Insane indeed
Let's face the truth here, ANC is a liberation movement, and they played the role of liberation perfectly well, and now the ANC is faced with the challenge of running a country, which now involves multi facets challenges including public funds . .more

by Lesole Mahlatsi on April 09 2013, 09:28
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

No Dot, not dismissed
Simply the truth, undenied. The ANC was a terrorist organisation, judged on the facts. And so regarded by Thatcher's government.

by Marduk on April 09 2013, 09:55
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

Terrorism
Any regime, whilst in power, subjects its citizens to an ongoing revolution, is practicing terrorism.

The ANC, for all their communist inspired rhetoric about human rights, the exploitation of workers, their championing of the poor etc etc, is . .more

by James Bell on April 09 2013, 10:40
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

@by Marduk on April 09 2013, 09:55
I was guilty of speed reading an article this morning and missed a quote...you are guilty of misreading my comments on this article...

by . on April 09 2013, 11:06
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

The Choice
The choice will not go away. You have a choice between peaceful change through democratic process, which takes a long time, maybe a very long time indeed, and change through violence, which guarantees absolutely nothing - what sitting governments . .more

by Paul Whelan on April 09 2013, 11:29
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

MT
One of the greatest women ever lived, shame about her son, as dumb as 783

by jt on April 09 2013, 11:40
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

Margaret Thatcher and the ANC
Last week's Sunday Times had a fascinating article on this topic by Sir Robin Renwick, Ambasador to SA at that time:

http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/newsreview/article1241474.ece

"Despite her opposition to sanctions, Margaret . .more

by Robert Wallace on April 09 2013, 11:47
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

quotes
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, 13:36
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

@Lesole Mahlatsi
Whether you call it a liberation movement, terrorist organisation, horde of criminals or communist dupes, the fact is that you are wrong about its aims. It is certainly not intent on "uniting the country that had always seen itself divided based on race" . .more

by Anthony Caenazzo on April 09 2013, 14:19
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

Continuing Anthony' s tale..
......but better than anything anywhere else in sub -Sahara Africa, then and now.

by John Galt on April 09 2013, 16:09
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

@Lesole Mahlatsi
"Let's face the truth here, ANC is a liberation movement, and they played the role of liberation perfectly well..."
Actually that's wrong. The ANC was the oldest liberation movement on the African continent. It was also the least effective. It took . .more

by Jeff on April 09 2013, 16:42
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

Sanity
Anyone denying the anc was terrorist in its methods does not have to endure this condition.

Anyone denying that she was right about them NOT RUNNING SA has also managed to avoid contamination.

by DavidJ on April 09 2013, 18:46
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

State sponsored terrorism...
...CCB, etc, yet no mention in the comments...forgetful? or just too embarrassing to discuss?

by . on April 09 2013, 18:56
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

@Jeff 16.42
The ANC the oldest liberation movement, I presume since 1912? That is one way of looking at it. However, we must not forget that the ANC prior to WW2 was mostly peaceful, while subsequent WW@, when they accepted assitance from and started being white . .more

by James Bell on April 09 2013, 20:28
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

by James Bell on April 09 2013, 20:28
QUOTE: The ANC was and still is a terrorist organization UNQUOTE

Any UN recognition or statement to that effect?

by . on April 09 2013, 20:46
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

Radio 702 interview.
Aziz Pahad, when asked by John Robbie why he disagreed with Thatchers policy of constructive engagement when this was and is a policy of the ANC governmnet with regard to other countries, countered that the ANC really tries to change these countries from . .more

by Pahad admirer on April 09 2013, 22:46
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

munts/coolies
Die anc is n klomp fokken terroriste all a bunch of munts and C***** criminals fraudsters thieves liars naaiers pigs mainly in run anc kzn all protected by criminals at kzn provincial saps crime intelligence/ NIA in kzn all close criminalbcadres of jacob . .more

by RamseyJoseph0314641641 on August 19 2013, 15:18
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

scum
Eish they are fcuken terrorists and criminals all anc cadres are frauds thieves according these pigs that live at 26Padstow Road Mount Vernon Bellair Durban friends with anc terrorist/criminal C***** pig Mr S Govender.

by dollyg@vodacom.co.za on August 24 2013, 09:07
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

anc corruption
F*** the anc terrorist group with its filthy k***** and c**lie comrades all fucken frauds thieves liars...

by kaffirpoes123 on September 18 2013, 11:35
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

terrorist/communist anc
Stop the crimimal terrorist anc criminal pig organisation of fraudsters and thieves

by deenanaidooholnaaier.com on September 18 2013, 16:52
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

anc terrorists
Fark all anc terrorists the pigs are criminals hogs and dogs

by blu52 on December 28 2013, 11:59
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it


Name
Subject
Comment