Margaret Thatcher advised PW Botha to release Mandela in 1985

Here’s interesting.

From Guido Fawkes (via Brian Micklethwait), this:

The myth that Thatcher (and her admirers) supported apartheid is one of the core beliefs of the Comrade Blimpish left. Charles Moore touched on it in The Telegraph this morning. It is a false charge and Nelson Mandela himself was in no doubt – saying of Margaret Thatcher in July 1990 only a few months after his release: “She is an enemy of apartheid… We have much to thank her for.”

We all know that the allegation that Thatcher referred to Mandela as a terrorist was incorrect, although yes, she did once refer to the ANC’s threat to specifically target British interests in South Africa as being “typical of a terrorist organisation.”
And while many people also gleefully shared the:

Anyone who thinks the ANC is going to run the government in South Africa is living in cloud-cuckoo land.

quote when she popped her clogs in April, she didn’t say that either. It was actually Bernard Ingram, a member of her government, sure, but not her.

Here’s a excerpt from the (now declassified) letter sent from Wor Maggie to then President PW Botha in October 1985:


“I continue to believe, as I have said to you before, that the release of Nelson Mandela would have more impact that almost any single action you could undertake.”

The rest of the letter also makes fascinating reading.

HISTORY! It’s not quite as cool as SCIENCE!

3 thoughts on “Margaret Thatcher advised PW Botha to release Mandela in 1985

  1. This is completely disingenuous.
    Of course, she was against Apartheid. If I remember correctly, everybody in Britain with the exception of a few rightwing Tories were against Apartheid.
    Where Thatcher and the Tories were wrong, was that they never did anything to stop Apartheid. Yes, they repeatedly told PW to release Mandela. The fact remains however that he (Botha) knew she would never do anything to force them to do anything.
    She nearly split the Commonwealth in 86 because of her unwillingness to apply any pressure. When they sent the Commonwealth delegation in 86 to South Africa, they were inching closer to an memo on possible negotiations. Pretoria then launched a raid to Gaberone while the VIPs were still in South Africa. They left the next morning. There were zero consequences for Pretoria from London after the raid.
    Actions always speak louder than words.

  2. Altus > If your second comment is true, then how brilliant a politician was she? She’s left both sides thinking that she was on their side.
    Maybe she thought that sanctions were the wrong way to do things. She may have been wrong on that, but it’s clear that the wheels were in motion before sanctions began. It may be that they made things move faster. But then, she had to look out for her citizens’ interests as well. Horrible thing to say, but that was actually her mandate as PM of the UK. A very tricky balancing act [see: ] but one which she seems (retrospectively) to have actually carried off rather well.

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