Former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher speaks at a summit in Dublin, Ireland in 1990.
Former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher speaks at a summit in Dublin, Ireland in 1990. Tetsuya Akiyama

Thatcher was hardline on race

FORMER British prime minister Margaret Thatcher believed South Africa should be a "whites-only state”, it has been reported.

The former head of the Diplomatic Service, Sir Patrick Wright, has made some explosive claims in his account of the late PM's time in office (1979-90).

Sir Patrick also said Mrs Thatcher "loathed” Germans and was "at her worst” during the Vietnamese boat people crisis in 1989.

Extracts from his diaries include claims the PM expressed a desire for a "pre-1910 South Africa, with a white mini-state partitioned from their neighbouring black states”.

Sir Patrick also claimed she favoured a policy of "pushing off” Vietnamese boat people and refusing to allow them to land, and said any talk of German reunification was "anathema to her”.

In the diary entry, Sir Patrick writes the "pre-1910” South Africa conversation took place over a lunch he was invited to with Mrs Thatcher. "She opened the conversation by thrusting a newspaper cutting about Oliver Tambo (African National Council president) in front of us, saying that it proved that we should not be talking to him ... she continued to express her views about a return to pre-1910 South Africa, with a white mini-state partitioned from their neighbouring black states.”

When Sir Patrick questioned the desire and said it would be an extension of apartheid, he said "she barked: 'Do you have no concern for our strategic interests'?”

Sir Patrick also claimed Mrs Thatcher was "at her worst” during the Vietnamese boat people crisis in 1989.

About 70,000 Indochinese boat people fled Vietnam after the Vietnam War and arrived in five South-East Asian countries and Hong Kong (then a British colony).

Mrs Thatcher apparently favoured a policy of "pushing off” Vietnamese boat people and refusing to allow them to land.

The diary extracts also talk of Mrs Thatcher's "Germanophobia”.

"She seems to be obsessed by a feeling that German-speakers are going to dominate the community,” Sir Patrick writes. "Any talk of German reunification is anathema to her.”

Mrs Thatcher's attitude on foreign matters reportedly led her foreign secretary Douglas Hurd to remark: "Cabinet now consists of three items: parliamentary affairs; home affairs; and xenophobia,” the diary says.

- Shehab Khan, The Independent



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