Nelson Mandela and Margaret Thatcher: Much to be thankful for

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Nelson Mandela and Margaret Thatcher


A British diplomat puts an old canard to rest

The End of Apartheid: Diary of a Revolution. By Robin Renwick. Biteback; 184 pages; £16.99.
THIS is the chronicle of a diplomat who did more than any other to facilitate the transition from apartheid to democracy in South Africa. Robin (now Lord) Renwick had previously pulled off a similar feat by coaxing Southern Rhodesia into becoming Zimbabwe. He was Britain’s chief behind-the-scenes Foreign Office fixer for Margaret Thatcher and her foreign secretary, Lord Carrington, in the twists and turns of diplomacy culminating in the Lancaster House conference of 1979.

It was natural, therefore, that Thatcher should pick him to be Britain’s ambassador to South Africa in 1987, with the job of ensuring that Nelson Mandela was freed and his country set on an irreversible path to democracy. Lord Renwick’s diaries, which draw on many of the dispatches he sent to Whitehall and which have now been published under a special …<div class="og_rss_groups"></div>