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)

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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.