London, Dec.30 (ANI): The 50th anniversary of equal women's suffrage was a cause for celebration in 1978, but James Callaghan and his allies were determined that Margaret Thatcher did not feature too strongly in the commemoration.As Leader of the Opposition, Thatcher was the most prominent female politician of the day and there was concern that she might steal the limelight, reports The Times.A committee was formed and an exhibition at Westminster Hall was devised, along with a garden party and a special gala performance at the Palladium starring Twiggy, to be staged on the July 2 anniversary itself.
It was then that Callaghan and his advisers apparently realized the potential advantages that this could bestow on Thatcher.
As Ken Stowe, principal private secretary to the Prime Minister, wrote on May 26: "With hindsight, the only thing one can say charitably is that we were all asleep when this proposition was first mooted: a celebration of 50 years of women's suffrage can hardly exclude a political dimension or women and it is inescapable therefore that the leading woman politician of the day is going to get a fair amount of the limelight."
He thought that "a mixture of sweet reasonableness and low cunning" would ensure that there was no room for Thatcher in the royal box at the Palladium.
This was achieved by making sure that Lord Grade, the television executive who had organized the show, was in the box with his wife, the Callaghans and Princess Margaret, despite the Grades' protestations.There was consternation that Thatcher had been invited to speak alongside Callaghan at the Right to Vote exhibition.
There were discussions about the Prime Minister withdrawing from the event, but Lady Birk, the head of the organizing committee, said that his speech would be superior.Callaghan was asked by memo whether the guest list for the garden party should feature exclusively women. He scribbled: "Better speak to my wife - she can decide." (ANI)