Iconic Photos

Famous, Infamous and Iconic Photos

Thatcher in A Tank

with 20 comments

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By 1986, the popularity Margaret Thatcher gained during the Falklands War was slowly withering away. Her ardent wave of privatization and antagonistic stance against the power of the unions didn’t make her too popular either. The Westland Scandal  — whereby her government forced the helicopter manufacturer Westland to merge with an American company instead of an European one — was already unfolding in the background. She was even being accused of going soft on defense and ignoring strategic British industries (like arm industries) as she went on campaigning for an unprecedented third term.

A watershed moment for her re-election campaign came on 17th September 1986. On that day at NATO training camp at Fallingbostel, south of Hamburg, Mrs. Thatcher scored a photographic coup when she had been photographed in a Challenger Tank. [The big picture is by Jockel Fink, AP.] Although somewhat out of character, the tank and the scarf re-cemented her reputation as “the Iron Lady”. Thatcher looked like a “cross between Isadora Duncan and Lawrence of Arabia,” wrote the Daily Telegraph.

What was unreported on that September day was that the prime minister was being accompanied by West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl on her visit to the British forces stationed in Fallingbostel. Kohl also test-drove a Challenger, and both leaders fired  6-lb. practice shell 1,000 yds. directly to their marks using laser targeting.

“I loved it!” exclaimed Thatcher. Asked about whether women should be frontline soldiers, she answered: “I’m sure after today you would approve of having a woman Prime Minister, who, after all, has to make some very difficult decisions should things ever get problematic.” The tank moment surely helped Thatcher’s re-election campaign. She was re-elected and as per her electoral promises, she saved the British tank industry by ordering British-built tanks over its American rivals.

Written by Alex Selwyn-Holmes

April 23, 2009 at 4:16 am

20 Responses

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  1. I feel Pwoud, vewy Pwoud…

    Andy

    April 9, 2010 at 10:41 am

  2. I feel sick, very sick- what a vile, vile woman.

    pippy

    June 18, 2010 at 3:29 pm

    • pippy, you are a sick puppy.

      BobG

      May 5, 2011 at 5:23 pm

  3. i was serving with 5th royal tank regiment at fallingbostel about 1964 driving tanks where thatcher was

    t.hawkins

    September 26, 2010 at 12:14 am

  4. […] both the propriety and wisdom of the stunt. The campaign was hapless: to appear more manly he had cribbed from a woman. “Competence over ideology” was a failed Dukakis slogan. He promised higher taxes and […]

  5. […] Barbara, California, Ronnie chopped wood for the cameras. Maggie put on her best headscarf and popped up in the turrets of tanks on Salisbury […]

  6. A perfect match, for the photo of the Grinch that’s on Wikipedia

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grinch

    How very very apt

    But She didn’t just steal Xmas, She stole the respect and prospects from about a third of the British population

    A Wilson

    January 22, 2012 at 9:36 am

  7. […] warrior precedents of both Queen Victoria and Churchill, and she was photographed on a tank in an image that the Daily Telegraph described as ‘a cross between Isadora Duncan and Lawrence of […]

  8. The Malvinas War.

    adolfo

    February 16, 2012 at 7:25 pm

  9. […] un golpe cuando fue fotografiada en un tanque Challenger. El tanque y el pañuelo, como indican en Iconic photos, recuperó su percepción y reputación como “la dama de hierro”. Thatcher parecía un […]

  10. […] riding in a British tank a few years earlier. In “Iron Lady” Thatcher’s case, the tank photo helped her get re-elected — so Dukakis hoped a similar photo op would also help his election […]

  11. […] Thatcher, with her bellicose attitude toward the Falklands war against Argentina and her fun outing in a tank in 1986 (a rare occasion when she did wear pants), might have been expected to ignore comments […]

  12. […] Thatcher, with her bellicose attitude toward the Falklands war against Argentina and her fun outing in a tank in 1986 (a rare occasion when she did wear pants), might have been expected to ignore comments […]

  13. […] Thatcher, with her bellicose attitude toward the Falklands war against Argentina and her fun outing in a tank in 1986 (a rare occasion when she did wear pants), might have been expected to ignore comments […]

  14. […] Thatcher, with her bellicose attitude toward the Falklands war against Argentina and her fun outing in a tank in 1986 (a rare occasion when she did wear pants), might have been expected to ignore comments […]

  15. […] Thatcher, with her bellicose attitude toward the Falklands war against Argentina and her fun outing in a tank in 1986 (a rare occasion when she did wear pants), might have been expected to ignore comments […]

  16. […] Thatcher, with her bellicose attitude toward the Falklands war against Argentina and her fun outing in a tank in 1986 (a rare occasion when she did wear pants), might have been expected to ignore comments […]

  17. A fascinating discussion is definitely worth comment. I believe that you ought to write more on this subject matter, it may not be a taboo subject but typically people do not talk about these topics. To the next! Many thanks!!

    Middle East News

    September 29, 2013 at 8:11 am

  18. You can contact the Ed Block Courage Awards and let your voice be heard on how you feel toward Vick’s receiving this award.

    These liners are very easy to set up and they may be also very
    economical. It was the hundreds of a huge number of returning GIs coming home from World
    War II who found that they can foot the check perfectly for that homes that they were starting their new families in.

    Alexandria

    January 30, 2014 at 2:04 pm

  19. […] last time I checked it wasn’t Mr Collymore driving around in a tank draped in the Union Jack. I find it disrespectful that we continue to pursue as a nation, and more recently under Micheal […]


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