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The aphrodisiac of power

Thursday, 30 August, 2012

In 1975, when Margaret Thatcher was bidding for the leadership of the Conservative Party, the Labour Party health secretary, Barbara Castle, was prompted to commit the following observation to her diary:

“The papers are full of Margaret Thatcher. She has leant herself with grace and charm to every piece of photographer’s gimmickry, but don’t we all when the prize is big enough? What interests me is how blooming she looks — she has never been prettier. I am interested because I understand the phenomenon. She may have been up late on the Finance Bill Committee; she is beset by enemies and has to watch every gesture and word. But she sails through it all looking her best. I understand why. She is in love: in love with power, success — and with herself. She looks as I looked when Harold [Wilson] made me Minister of Transport. If we have to have Tories, good luck to her!”

The aura of attractiveness bestowed on mere mortals by the aphrodisiac of power can now be seen in the person of Paul Ryan, who looks like a young John F. Kennedy, but without the patina of privilege.


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