Why my second meeting with Richard Madeley will not herald the rise of a new Margaret Thatcher – Susan Dalgety

Richard Madeley leaned over and said: “Ladies, we have seven minutes for our discussion.” I smiled, wanly. I had travelled 300 miles from Edinburgh to a studio in Shepherd’s Bush for seven minutes of live television.
Despite one possible omen, Liz Truss is not destined for long in the top job (Picture: Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)Despite one possible omen, Liz Truss is not destined for long in the top job (Picture: Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)
Despite one possible omen, Liz Truss is not destined for long in the top job (Picture: Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)

Was I mad, I wondered, as Madeley’s co-presenter Charlotte Hawkins read the autocue’s tribute to Olivia Newton-John? And then, before you could hum Grease is the Word, it was all over, and my sparring partner Stacey Clare and I were back in the ‘green’ room filling out waiver forms.

Stacey, author of the book The Ethical Stripper, and I had been invited to London to talk about Edinburgh’s lap-dancing ban. I had written in support of the ban in a previous Evening News column, and it had been spotted by a Good Morning Britain researcher.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Two phone calls later and I was on a train to Kings Cross, my best dress carefully folded in my overnight case. “It’s an adventure,” I told my husband as he dropped me at Waverley station. What I didn’t mention was that the thing I was most looking forward to was meeting Richard Madeley again.

Back in 1979, just before I moved to Edinburgh, I was interviewed by a fresh-faced cub reporter from Border Television. It was what is called in the trade a vox pop, when journalists stop people in the street and ask them about a topical issue.

Read More
Tory leadership race: Liz Truss promises 'war on Whitehall waste' as plans could...

Madeley wanted to know my views on smoking. Remember it was 40-odd years ago, when almost everyone smoked, so I enthused about my ten-a-day habit. Player’s Number 6, if my memory serves me correctly.

Little did I think that more than four decades later I would be sitting in the studio of one of Britain’s most popular TV shows, being interviewed once again by Richard Madeley.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

A lot has happened in the years between those two interviews. In 1979, breakfast television didn’t exist. BBC’s Breakfast Time – Europe’s first regular morning TV service – didn’t go live until 1983, followed a few weeks later by TV-AM on the “commercial” channel.

This morning over breakfast I tuned into Good Morning Britain on my laptop while reading Twitter and the Evening News on my phone.

In 1979, Scotland voted against devolution in a referendum many say was fixed against a positive result. Today, the First Minister of a devolved Scottish Parliament is regarded as one of the most influential women in the world.

And when I moved to Edinburgh in the summer of 79, it seemed a closed, introverted city, hardly busier than the village I had left.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Today, even when the Festival is not in full flow, the streets teem with people from across the world.

But there are some eerie similarities, not least the prospect of a tight-lipped, right-wing, blonde woman becoming Prime Minister. On 3 May 1979, Margaret Thatcher became Britain’s first woman leader.

On Monday 5 September, the Tory Party will announce its new leader and our new Prime Minister. Chances are it will be Liz Truss, recently described as a Poundland Thatcher. To be fair, she is more like a Home Bargains Maggie.

But will she last two years or eleven? My money is on a short run.