We should all salute the passing of a great public servant. Various officials and Ministers served Margaret Thatcher well and loyally, but Bernard Ingham held a record. Others came and went, but he remained in No.10 for eleven years. Although it must have been a gruelling workload, he never complained. Like all of those closest to her, he knew that he was helping a great Leader to be herself. He had the privilege of being there when history was being made.
Yet at the beginning, Bernard seemed an improbable disciple. He left school at 16, from a working class and Labour-supporting background in Yorkshire. Local newspapers led him to Fleet St, where he became an industrial correspondent. In that role, his job was to chronicle the power of the trade unions and in those early days, he did not seem uncomfortable with that apparently basic aspect of British economic and political life. He then became a Government press officer, working for Barbara Castle and Tony Benn, hardly seed-beds of Thatcherism. After the 1979 Election, that did not seem to trouble the new Prime Minister. She needed a press secretary; he was given the post after a two-minute interview. In view of the Lady’s normal approach to conversation, it is unlikely that he would have got many words in edgewise. No matter: however unorthodox the interviewing technique, it was a brilliant success.