When the Iron Lady Ruled Britain


  • Paperback | 320 pp.
  • Genre: Reportage
  • ISBN: 9781846882289
  • Published: May 2012

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Returning to Britain in the mid-1980s after spending several years in the US as the Observer’s Washington correspondent, Robert Chesshyre found a country shockingly altered by the rule of ‘The Iron Lady’, then at the height of her popularity. Disturbed by the Britain he now found himself in, he set out to travel the length and breadth of the UK to report on the state of the nation and the lives of ordinary people.

The parallels between Britain’s predicament in the 1980s and in 2012 have never been so stark, and Chesshyre’s book casts a critical eye on the developments of the 1980s that were to shape ‘Broken Britain’ twenty-five years later: the ever-expanding gap between rich and poor, the boom and deregulation of the markets, the explosion of inner-city crime, and the gulf between north and south.

Originally published as The Return of a Native Reporter to widespread critical acclaim in 1987, this new edition includes a piece describing a revisit to the former Easington Colliery in 2010 and an extensive new foreword by the author. In its scope, its relevance and its insight, it is a profound and shocking reminder that ‘what we sowed then, we reap now’.


'A sobering front-line dispatch from those parts of the country damaged in the course of pursuing a prosperity that looks increasingly will-o’-the-wisp-like.' The Telegraph

'Brilliant, bleak.' - Andrew Marr

'The effect... is deeply shocking... every Cabinet Minister should be forced to read this book. Superb.' - Hanif Kureishi, TLS

'In this meticulously researched book Chesshyre covers all the relevant issues... life in the US has sharpened his pen and he doesn't waste time pretending that beneath the squalor and inefficiency things here are really hunky-dory... I urge you to read this book.' - Beryl Bainbridge, The Observer


Read an excerpt from When the Iron Lady Ruled Britain

Robert Chesshyre is a freelance writer and journalist who lives in south-west London. He worked for The Observer for twenty years, wrote full time for the Telegraph Magazine, and more recently has contributed to the Sunday Times Magazine, the Independent, the Times, the Guardian and the Literary Review.

Copyright © 2014 Alma Books Ltd.