Good fortune contributed at least as much to Margaret Thatcher’s becoming prime minister in 1979 as it had to her winning of the Conservative leadership four years earlier. Not surprisingly, this crucial element was given little emphasis by Thatcher herself. Her clear, but simplified and determinist, explanation of the victory allowed for luck only in terms of how sensibly the public would react to a demonstrably superior Tory message:

The [Labour] Government . . . had lost the public’s confidence as well as Parliament’s. The ‘winter of discontent’, the ideological divisions in the Government, its inability to control its allies in the trade union movement, an impalpable sense that socialists everywhere had run out of steam . . . The Tory Party, by contrast, had used its period in Opposition to elaborate a new approach to reviving the British economy and nation. Not only had we worked out a full programme for government; we had also taken apprenticeships in advertising and learnt how to put a complex and sophisticated case in direct and simple language. We had, finally, been arguing that case for the best part of four years, so our agenda would, with luck, strike people as familiar common sense rather than as a wild radical project. 1