'Look after the Daily Mail': Thatcher's media tactic for 1987 election
Margaret Thatcher's press secretary advised the then prime minister that her first media priority for the 1987 general election campaign was to "look after the Daily Mail", the latest release of her private papers show.
The set of files from the Margaret Thatcher Foundation reveal that Sir Bernard Ingham, nominally a civil servant rather than a Conservative party employee, gave her advice despite neutrality rules that banned him from doing so.
In a note to the prime minister on "how to play the media over the next couple of weeks" before the campaign, he wrote: "You need to look after the Daily Mail (David English wants to interview you – and would like to be first to do so after you have declared an election)." English was the paper's editor at the time.
Plus (on a somewhat lighter note):
Margaret Thatcher was briefed by civil servants when she was prime minister that punk was "the most extreme form of 'pop' rebellion" and had peaked under the previous Labour government, newly released private papers reveal.
Thatcher was also told before a 1987 interview with the teenage pop magazine Smash Hits that punk was "a very basic musical style featuring a strange bunch of anti-establishment acts, the most famous of which were the Sex Pistols, with songs such as God Save the Queen and Anarchy in the UK".
Her official briefing paper, released by the Margaret Thatcher Foundation, added that punk was popular for a while but died out after the Sex Pistols split up in 1978, to be replaced "by the current technological musical era featuring computers, synthesisers and videos".
The Downing Street press office briefing for the interview in February 1987 included the ominous warning: "You may not enjoy this interview. Mr Hibbert (Smash Hits’ deputy editor) may ask superficial questions which betray a lack of understanding. The challenge of the interview will be for you to demonstrate that just because you are not part of the pop scene, you are still in touch with youngsters and understand their needs."