Margaret Thatcher's Giant Turquoise Feather Duster

By Garance Franke-Ruta

Long before Barack Obama dusted off his shoulders, Margaret Thatcher used a bright turquoise feather duster to sweep away the dirt of lingering socialism at the Conservative Party Conference in October 1975.

The Telegraph, which as a great old black-and-white picture of the occasion, says that it was "given to her by a member of the audience" at the party conference, where she delivered these remarks. Of all the images of her as a leader, this is the one that's stuck in my mind since yesterday. What a deft use of imagery -- sweeping away old ideas, dustbin of history, a woman leader ready to clean up the nation, etc. -- and how very dated! The idea of a female party leader today in the West using a feather duster as a prop -- impossible to imagine.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/04/margaret-thatchers-giant-turquoise-feather-duster/274815/