Kohl joins attack on Thatcher memoirs
CHANCELLOR Dr Helmut Kohl has joined those criticising Lady Thatcher's memoirs, warning that the former prime minister was in danger of ''dismantling the monument she has built''.
Dr Kohl, who clashed frequently with Lady Thatcher over their different visions for Europe, said that his own view had been inspired by Winston Churchill's call for European unity after World War II.
''The difference between us is that I am living after Winston Churchill and she comes from the time before Winston Churchill,'' he said.
Dr Kohl said she had undermined her own achievements by recounting her opposition to German and European unity.
''German unity has come and European unity will come too, no matter what Margaret Thatcher writes,'' he said. ''All she accomplishes is the dismantling of the monument she has built.'' Extracts from the book have already been published in Germany, highlighting her attempt to block unification in 1990.
Mr Kohl said: ''Margaret Thatcher never hid the fact that she was not for German unification at the time. I didn't take this badly because she was the most honest.
''I have great respect for Mrs Thatcher. Maybe because she has such a strong personality she has difficulties putting up with other people's opinions.'' Lady Thatcher has also been urged to keep quiet by her former press secretary, Sir Bernard Ingham, who served the former prime minister throughout most of her time in office. He said she should ''shut up'' and throw her political weight behind Prime Minister John Major.
''It is inevitable that politicians will want to write their memoirs,'' he said. ''But Mrs Thatcher would be very well advised now to shut up and support John Major and grace him with her reticence.'' But he defended her criticism of Lords Howe and Lawson, the targets of her most scathing attacks in the first extracts from the book.
''As far as I can see, Mrs Thatcher has told the truth of what happened while I was there with her. It accords with what I set down in my book,'' said Sir Bernard.
He said his advice would be: ''You are going to make a lot of money. You have got to get it out of your system. Now get on with running your foundation, touring the world and talking to people. Support John Major and shut up.'' The call for unity was backed by Scottish Secretary Ian Lang, who urged Tory rebels to end their ''guerilla warfare''.
He told students at Edinburgh University: ''The overwhelming message from the party faithful was that it was time for the guerilla warfare being waged on the Government by a tiny minority of our MPs and their cohorts to end. For it is becoming more apparent by the day that the longer it goes on, the only victors in such a war will be the opposition.'' Nonetheless, some Tory backbenchers are still threatening trouble for the Government over rail privatisation, value added tax on fuel and possible tax increases in the November budget.
John Townend, chairman of the Tory backbench finance committee, said the party would lose all credibility if taxes rose.