Margaret Thatcher's Giant Turquoise Feather Duster

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.

Garance Franke-Ruta is a former senior editor covering national politics at The Atlantic.


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