Margaret Thatcher and the Falklands War


Why did Margaret Thatcher decide to use military force to reclaim the Falkland Islands after the Argentine occupation in April 1982? Why did she take such a belligerent line in the House of Commons debate just two days after the invasion of the islands? Why did she reject diplomatic alternatives, including the peace shuttle of US Secretary of State Al Haig? Why did she incur the cost of the military operation which increased public spending and delayed the tax cuts that she had promised?

These and other issues will be analysed in this talk, which looks behind the façade of the official explanations for the war. Also considered will be the UN resolution authorising the use of military force, the response of European countries to the conflict, and the crucial military engagements which determined the war’s outcome. The impact on domestic politics, including the ‘Falklands Factor’ in the 1983 General Election, will also be assessed.

This lecture is part of the 'Controversies in UK Foreign Policy: Diplomacy or Military Force?' lecture series, taking place on Fridays from 20 October to 24 November 2023. You may either register for individual lectures or you may choose to register for the entire lecture series at a reduced price.

Please note: this lecture will close to enrolments at at 23:59 UTC on 7 November 2023.

Programme details

2–3.15pm GMT (UTC)

For those attending in person at Rewley House, registration takes place from 1.45pm. The lecture will last approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour, followed by questions. Tea and coffee are provided in the Common Room after each lecture, from 3.15pm.

For those joining us online, please join in good time before each lecture to ensure that you have no connection problems. We recommend joining 10-15 minutes before the start time.


Description Costs
Course Fee - in-person attendance (includes tea/coffee) £30.00
Course Fee - virtual attendance £25.00


Dr Martin Holmes

Dr Martin Holmes is a member of the Senior Common Room at St Hugh’s College, where he was previously Lecturer in Politics for over 20 years. Additionally, he has been Director of the annual Nebraska at Oxford summer program since 1989. For the OUDCE he has taught several syllabi on the Foundations of Diplomacy course over the past decade, as well as guest lectures for the Diplomatic Studies Program. A strong supporter of lifelong education, he has also been a regular lecturer for the University of the Third Age (U3A). A specialist in International Relations and European Integration, he is the author of seven books. His latest publication, a diplomatic history of 20th century Europe, was published by Routledge in August: From the Treaty of Versailles to the Treaty of Maastricht: Conflict, carnage and cooperation in Europe 1918 – 93.


Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please contact us to obtain an application form.

IT requirements

For those joining us online

We will be using Zoom for the livestreaming of this course. If you’re attending online, you’ll be able to see and hear the speakers, and to submit questions via the Zoom interface. Joining instructions will be sent out prior to the start date. We recommend that you join the session at least 10-15 minutes prior to the start time – just as you might arrive a bit early at our lecture theatre for an in-person event.

Please note that this course will not be recorded.