Since the news was announced this morning about Margret Thatcher’s son, Mark, being arrested, for alleged involvement in a potential coup in Equatorial Guinea, I’ve been wondering about something. On the news, he’s referred to as “Sir Mark”. Now, having done some research, I’ve figured out the reason why he’s referred to as “Sir” is because he inherited his father’s baronetcy, which is a hereditary peerage (his mother’s only a life peer however). However, try as I might, I can’t find out why Denis Thatcher was made a baronet in the first place. Its bugging people on NADS as well. So, anyone got any ideas?
This obituary suggests that it was a reward for long-time promotion and support for a number of charities.
John Major seems to have spent an awful lot of wiggle energy avoiding that very question here:
Gotta love British politics.
Damn you, JayJay!! :mad: I just got through Googling that very Parliamentary-committee cite up, and was going to post it here, and you beat me to it!
Thanks guys. It was as I thought (after much extensive googling myself). Basically, we have a vague idea, but no one really knows, and Major isn’t admitting to anything.
YES! Fastest Google in the East! Who’s da champ? Who’s da champ?
Like vaseline-covered eels, politicians. They all are. Both sides of the Pond.
May a hundred twinks hold you down and pull out your body hairs one by one!
Nasty generalization. Many, perhaps most, politicans have sold their birthrights for a mess of patronage. But there remain men of integrity in public life. Some years ago, Heinlein argued this, along with racism, religious prejudice, etc., by using Senator George Norris as his example of a man in high political office who consistently worked for good, and not necessarily merely the good of his own constitutents. (How else explain a Senator from Nebraska spearheading the TVA?)
In more immediate terms, I’ve often regretted that political realities preclude Barney Frank from running for (or being appointed to) something “higher” than his present House seat – the man is both someone of great integrity and one of the most competent people, of any orientation, in public life.
Getting back to the OP, I think it’s clear that, while his charitable work was a factor, Major’s principal purpose in honoring him was as a fillip to Maggie – and to recognize his difficult role as the first man to function (apparently admirably and with great behind-the-scenes support) as spouse of a PM. By way of comparison, consider the honor this country paid Nancy Reagan at her husband’s state funeral recently – and the fact that she deserved it as his helpmeet and support in his accomplishing difficult tasks as President; regardless of whether you as an individual supported him, you paid tribute to her for doing a difficult job well.
Strewth. I was just a bit too flip with the brush broadness in that one.
If there were to be a Baronetcy handed out among the Thatchers, the most obvious would seem to have been Maggie.
Had Major done this, he would have been under scrutiny for his back-scratching, under attack from everyone around from outside his party due to Maggie having been a controversial figure(imagine headlines like Baronetcy revived after 23 years and still 5 millions uneployed) and within his own party, Major would have probably appeared to be backward looking to Maggies glory days by honoring her in this way, it might then have appeared that he was still tied to the agenda Maggie set rather than his own man.
I can’t really explain why Dennis should have been awarded this, except as a back door way of passing the honour on Mark Thatcher and put the Thatcher family history into permanent honour which will always be associated with Maggie anyway, no matter which of that pair of vultures originally recieved it.
The first point is that this is not the only example of a prime ministerial spouse being given an honour. In fact, one doesn’t have to look any further than John Major himself, as Norma was made a dame in 1999 for ‘charity work’. The other obvious example would be Lady Churchill, who was given a life peerage.
In the case of the Thatchers, what needs to be remembered is that the really surprising thing was that she ‘only’ got a life barony. She would have been fully within her rights to have asked for an hereditary earldom and was widely expected to do so. This was not a matter of Major as the new PM failing to recommend one for her; the convention was (and arguably still is) that an ex-PM was entitled to one, irrespective of their successor’s views. So what happened? There must be a suspicion that she was dissuaded from requesting an hereditary peerage, specifically because Mark might have ended up in the Lords. A baronetcy for Denis and the OM for her (with the Garter to follow) were thrown in to sweeten the deal. Which would explain why Major was too tactful to discuss the details. And, if it was the Palace that had had the qualms, there would be all the more reason for discretion.
Betcha he issued it because Thatch had polaroids of John Major romping with Edwina Currie. shudder
There have, as far as I know only been two hereditary titles created for commoners in the last 30 or so years.
Willie Whitelaw was made a herditary Viscount. This was in part a tribute to his help to Mrs Thatcher and also a deliberate bid to keep the concept of heredity going. His son, who would normally suceed to the title was known to be gravely ill, and indeed predeceased his father.
The other title is the Thatcher Baronetcy - Mark Thatcher is the 2nd Baronet Thatcher. She thought the world of Denis and was determined he’d get ermined!
Outgoing PMs are usually offered life peerages, almost all accept, except Ted Heath, and he’s a wrong 'un anyway.
Do you think this may go some way to explaining Mandleson’s amazing career - Polaroids of Blair and Caplin perhaps?
I can think of no other explaination
What, Cherie or Tony?
Either way it doesn’t bear thinking about shudders
You missed out the two other cases.
George Thomas, on retiring as Speaker in 1983, became Viscount Tonypandy, although he didn’t have any sons anyway.
More to the point, Harold Macmillan asked for and was given an hereditary earldom (Stockton) in 1984. When he died two years later, it passed to his grandson, who still holds it.
No, outgoing PMs usually ask for life peerages. The point is that if they are going to be elevated immediately after resigning, they recommend themselves before formally resigning. In other words, they do so at a point at which the Queen is still expected to act on their advice. They are usually making recommendations for a Resignation Honours List anyway.
However, cases in which a PM wishes to be elevated immediately after resigning are now exceptionally rare. Most don’t want to create a by-election for their Commons seat. Thus Thatcher remained in the Commons until the next general election, although it was made known at the time of her resignation that she would in due course get a life barony.
Because these PMs are, in effect, forgoing the chance to be elevated when they retire, it is accepted that they can ask for one at a future date. Moreover, it used to be accepted that they could ask for anything up to the going rate for an ex-PM, an hereditary earldom. Hence the case of Macmillan. (The recent reform of the Lords obviously complicates this, so it is difficult to say what will be done in future.) As any honour for any former PM at any time would otherwise have political overtones, it is always easier for the Queen to give them the title they want when they want it. Which isn’t to say that informal pressure behind the scenes cannot be applied, whether by the Palace or No. 10.
God what a stupid system.
Or could it be that I’m only sore because my great-grandmother lost the stately home…?