Documents emerge revealing how Margaret Thatcher was briefed on punk in 1987

“A very basic musical style featuring a strange bunch of anti-establishment acts”

Official documents have been released from the Margaret Thatcher Foundation, briefing the Iron Lady for an interview with pop magazine Smash Hits in 1987. As can be expected, the knowledge she was given for her interview provides her with a linear crash course through pop and punk, and demonstrates Thatcher’s lack of understanding with music.

The document suggests that the politician could make the point that young people “are apolitical and buy the records because of the music and the beat”. It also states that “it is worth mentioning that a degree of teenage rebellion is part of growing up” and that teenagers “have long been anti-establishment whatever the political persuasion”.

It assures the politician, “You may not enjoy the interview”, and outlines her main challenge: “to demonstrate that just because you are not part of the pop scene, you are still in touch with youngsters and understand their needs.”

Pointing out that Thatcher had “asked for some examples of contemporary and past popular music”, the papers run through hits on the pop charts at the time (“Andrew Lloyd Webber has always done well in the charts with such hits as MEMORY from CATS“) and famous Beatles songs. It also describes punk as “a very basic musical style featuring a strange bunch of anti-establishment acts, most famous of which were THE SEX PISTOLS with songs such as GOD SAVE THE QUEEN and ANARCHY IN THE U.K.”

Read the official documents here.