“I’m a scientist. I shall be my own Minister for Science”

Via a mate who’s just read the new Thatcher biography by Charles Moore. On Thatcher, scientific advice and “the weather”:

“Dr John Ashworth, the Chief Scientist, who worked within the Central Policy Review Staff, asked to see Mrs Thatcher shortly after she had arrived at No. 10. As he entered, the Prime Minister said: ‘Who are you?’ ‘I am your Chief  Scientist,’ Ashworth replied. ‘Oh,’ said Mrs Thatcher, ‘do I want one of those?’ He explained his work, mentioning that he was completing a report about the then almost unstudied subject of climate change. Mrs Thatcher stared at him: ‘Are you standing there and seriously telling me that my government should worry about the weather?’ She told Ashworth that she was not going to have a minister of science at all: ‘I’m a scientist. I shall be my own Minister for Science.'” (p426; CM’s source = interview with Ashworth).

“But… Mrs T quickly realized that… she needed experts” and Moore says in a footnote she was “much later… the first head of government to make a major speech on the subject of climate change”. So that is OK then.

Related: Margaret Thatcher, science advice and climate change (by me, earlier this month)

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