The oratory of Margaret Thatcher
in Conservative orators from Baldwin to Cameron
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Margaret Thatcher was undoubtedly one of the most charismatic and controversial party leaders and Prime Ministers in British political history. Two particular characteristics strongly impacted upon her oratorical style and rhetoric: her personal background (the grocer’s daughter from provincial Grantham), and her ideological beliefs (albeit often presented by her as ‘common sense’) or particular interpretation of Conservative philosophy. In terms of ethos, Thatcher was readily able to invoke her lower-middle class family background to establish a connection with her audience. This in turn underpinned much of her pathos, whereby Thatcher’s speeches established a sense of shared identity and common experience with her audience, in terms of belief in the importance of ‘family values’, hard work, individual liberty, personal responsibility, sobriety and thrift. Thatcher also appealed to a much wider audience by virtue of her logos, whereby she was adept at using both philosophical premises and empirical examples to attack her political opponents, while also reducing political choices to a series of binary opposites.

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