As we move towards a 20 year disclosure of public records, today we mark the first mid-year release of government files. Previously secret files from 1983 have been released, offering us new insight into the Prime Ministerâ€™s in-tray that year. Themes of interest from the year include the workings of the Conservative government either side of a landslide election victory, the testing of the hitherto solid relationship between Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher following the US-led invasion of Grenada, and the discussions behind the placement of US missiles at Greenham Common.
The sheer weight of paperwork remains astounding, as hundreds of Prime Ministerâ€™s Office files, each page of which would have passed over Thatcherâ€™s desk, have been made available in the reading rooms at The National Archives, Kew. There is evidence again of the Prime Ministerâ€™s tendency to heavily annotate documents, with some particularly virulent comments regarding work by Geoffrey Howe and Nigel Lawson, which perhaps indicates a degree of post-election frustration and impatience at the relatively sluggish pace of change. Continue reading »