How Mrs T bought her own ironing board
Thanks to the release of formerly private documents from the National Archives, including details of expenditure at 10 Downing Street with handwritten notes, we have now learned, via the Daily Mail, that Mrs Thatcher was so shocked by the costs involved in revamping her new prime ministerial home that she volunteered to pay £19 for a new ironing board herself.
As for the idea of blowing £209 on new crockery, well, she decided she would use her own instead of relying on the public purse. And why spend good money on £464 on linen for spare bedrooms when she and husband Dennis only used the one? Sensibly, Mrs T said she would also cover the cost of sheets and pillows there.
Okay, there is a degree of quaintness about the highest elected official in the land bothering herself with the minutiae of housekeeping but it does show that the former PM was acutely aware of what the public thought.
Though quite reasonable under the circumstances, Mrs Thatcher worried about how spending £123 on repolishing furniture and £527 on cleaning carpets would seem to the country in 1981 while in the grip of a recession.
It's a stark contrast the greedy, trough-snuffling expenses junkies of later years wildly chalking up duck houses, moat cleaning and car trips of just a few miles to the taxpayer. More recently this behaviour has continued despite the fact that MPs know their expenses are under public scrutiny.
And the current No 10 incumbent is no exception. While Mrs Thatcher grudgingly spent £1,800 on revamping Downing Street (around £8,300 in today's money), David Cameron and his missus Samantha have spent £64,000 (that's £64,000 in today's money) on kitting out their home at 11 Downing Street just the way they like it with a bit of walnut flooring, some Jamie Oliver saucepans and a nice new Roundhouse Design kitchen.
Granted, they've chipped in £34,000 out of their own pockets, but that's because they've blown the whole annual £30,000 maintenance budget already, all while the economy is tanking pretty much like 1981,
Are the Camerons concerned at how this looks to the public, like Mrs Thatcher was?
You'd have to conclude, apparently not.