3rd Apr | Reminiscences of a Political Journalist

Capel Ladies were entertained at their April meeting by village resident David Thompson’s stories of his time in journalism, totalling nearly 60 years. Twenty-five of these were spent in the Daily Mirror’s Parliamentary and Political Team, and as the newspaper’s leader writer.

There were stories of Royals, Prime Ministers, House of Commons Speakers, Presidents, terrorism, trying to buy the Mirror, Robert Maxwell and launching and editing a daily newspaper abroad.

He had watched, reported, interviewed and/or chatted with every Prime Minister from Harold Macmillan to Gordon Brown, before, during or after their time at No 10. Of them all, David Thompson liked Edward Heath personally the most and Tony Blair the least.

He set out to dispel some political myths. Tony Benn was most charming and polite, but recent obituaries saying that he had always been on the Left of Labour and had never changed his mind were nonsense. At first Tony Benn had not been anti-nuclear weapons, nuclear power and Europe. In fact, in 1979 Tony Benn told David Thompson that “the only way to build Socialism in Britain was through Europe.” A year later he said the opposite.

Margaret Thatcher was the Iron Lady, but she could be friendly, sympathetic and even flirtatious – but not with David Thompson. He said. “At a Downing Street reception, she told my late wife: ‘My dear, I don’t know how you stand him. I can’t!’”

After leaving the Mirror, David Thompson worked in campaigning public relations and, at just 65, he launched and edited a daily newspaper in Bahrain with staff mainly from Britain, Bahrain and the Middle East, India, Pakistan and the Philippines.

The talk was followed by questions.

– Penny Thompson

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