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Friday, 22 March, 2002, 19:55 GMT
Tribute to 'a great, great speaker'
Sir Bernard received an honorary degree in 1997
Sir Bernard admired his boss's preparation of speeches
Sir Bernard Ingham was officially Baroness Thatcher's press secretary for the 11 years they worked together, but throughout that time, he was also her trusted friend.

Here, he laments the end of his former boss's public speaking days - and remembers the best.

The thing I remember most about Margaret Thatcher was not necessarily the content of her speeches, but the preparation that went into them.

It was the most thorough, marathon effort with quite the most extraordinary attention to detail.

I have never seen anybody take such enormous pains with a speech - to get the theme right, to get the subject right, the tone right and the words right.

Sir Bernard Ingham
Sir Bernard: 'We've lost a great, great speaker'

She ran to many, many drafts - which I never took part in.

That's not to say that she didn't take criticism, she did.

Yes, she could give out the knocks, but she could also take them!

The agony which accompanied these drafts was extraordinary.

It's a curious view of her speeches, I know, but it is one I clearly remember.

The first one of my most memorable was in Poland where she was visiting to try to persuade opposition to Communism.

We were in a huge church which was packed and Lech Walensa (former president of Poland) was there.

Her delivery was formidable

Sir Bernard Ingham

A large, highly charged, emotional crowd sang a song about freedom in Poland which was so moving.

How she managed to deliver a speech after that without breaking down, I will never know.

Her delivery was formidable.

The second was when she received the freedom of the Falklands after the war.

Again, it was a time of much emotion but she got it just right and made a powerful speech in exactly the right tone.

Fighting talk

There were many great fighting speeches, but none more than that on the day she addressed Parliament following her resignation as prime minister.

She socked it to 'em!

Sir Bernard Ingham

When she looked up from the despatch box and said "I am enjoying this" - it was that moment that really marked her as a remarkable person.

She socked it to 'em!

It was a tremendous delivery and was said with a tremendous spirit.

And it has to be seen against a background of the low, low spirits that she was really in.

It is so sad she will not speak again.

It has been suggested that a lot of people will not be sad to see the back of her public speaking days but I think they should look very hard at what we have lost.

We have lost a great, great speaker and a great, great politician.

See also:

22 Mar 02 | UK Politics
Thatcher told to quit public speaking
22 Mar 02 | UK Politics
Thatcher's famous speeches
19 Mar 02 | UK Politics
Thatcher cancels visits over illness
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