Posts Tagged ‘Britain’

The year was 1982. Common people like us in those days didn’t have so many platforms to make judgements and air opinions. Today on blogs, facebooks and orkuts, vox populi is drowned in seeming cacophony.

Twenty-seven years back, in the pre-blog era, the bold anti-establishment voice of one British housewife, Diana Gould, resonated across Britain. She took on no less than Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher during a televised live BBC phone-in session. The housewife wanted to know from Thatcher why the British navy sank an Argentinean ship during the Falklands War, when the ship was not posing any threat to Britain.

I have given a link to the video clipping at the end of the post; but why I would like you watch it, I shall explain later.

But before all that, a little background to the war which I closely followed — as an incurable news freak — during my school days.


The Falklands War was big foreign news those days. It began in April 1982 — with the invasion of Falkland Islands by the Argentinean troops. And it ended in June that year — with their surrender to Britain.

Falkland Islands lies to the east of Argentina; geographically similar to the Andaman Islands to the east of India. This group of islands is one the 14 British Overseas Territories (meaning, they are under the sovereignty of the UK but not considered part of the UK). Argentina had for long been claiming right to the islands; and they invaded it much to the surprise of Britain.

Margaret Thatcher — known for her resoluteness and who often claimed herself to be the only man in her cabinet — was the British PM then. She sent her naval fleet supported by air power.


One of the controversial moments in the war was the sinking of the Argentinean Navy cruiser General Belgrano. She was the only ship to be sunk by a nuclear- powered submarine since World War II. More than 300 people died.

This incident, a turning point in the war, was hugely controversial in Britain itself. One reason was that General Belgrano was sailing “away from the exclusion zone”. So by inference, it was not posing any threat to the British forces. But Thatcher insisted that ships in that area were vulnerable to attack.

More interestingly, many suspect that there was a huge communication gap within the British government, which was not aware of the change of course of the Argentinean cruiser.


What is of interest to me here is the way a British housewife took on her powerful Prime Minister in a live TV phone-in programme on the BBC.

The video clipping is worth watching for three reasons: one, the way a housewife gathered all relevant facts and directly confronted, of all people, Margaret Thatcher. Two, the way Thatcher squared up to the pointed attack calmly but firmly, without raising her voice or insulting Gould and giving the commoner due respect. And three, Thatcher’s remarkable articulation and diction. She, in those days, was a good communicator with forceful rendition, and commanding the attention of every listener. I simply loved to hear her speak.

I think this clipping should be watched — by politicians and all others — to get an idea of how a contentious issue can be debated.

To watch the You Tube video clipping click here.

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