Margaret Thatcher sought to arm bus conductors after a Tory MP was urinated on by children

National Archive files reveal aides had to stall the prime minister’s security scheme which she “became increasingly obsessed with”.


Joe Douglas Home

2/16/20222 min read

ARGUMENTS: One biographer suggests that the former PM's obsession with 'yellow raining' even caused marital problems in later life. (Bonson Raleigh/Humpkins Media 2000)

Former prime minister Margaret Thatcher had to be dissuaded by government aids and political advisors from arming London bus conductors with automatic rifles after an incident where a Concervative MP was urinated on by schoolchildren from the top window of a passing double decker bus.

Newly released files reveal that Sir William Shelton, member of parliament for the Streatham constituency from 1974 to 1992, was reportedly doused with several streams of liquid urine from a passing 159 route bus whilst campaigning on Streatham High Road during the 1987 general election.

Mrs. Thatcher was said to be “apoplectic with rage” at the humiliation of her long-term ally, and greatly concerned with the youth craze of ‘yellow raining’ whereby children and sometimes even young adults would stand on the seats of buses and relieve themselves out of the top deck window onto the unsuspecting pedestrians below.

The documents show one unnamed aide trying to delay Thatcher’s ambitions by suggesting the scheme be trialled in Northern Ireland or Liverpool first, whilst another proposed that Shelton had in fact wet himself and simply concocted an elaborate excuse to save embarrassment.

Thatcher, who was said to be “detrimentally preoccupied” by yellow raining for the last three years of her premiership, then went on to consider an ID card system for entering all public transport in Greater London before finally being deposed from office in November 1990.

Thatcher’s biographer, Clement Smidgely, explained, “It very much contributed to her downfall, yes. Unfortunately she became increasingly worried about yellow raining. Many ministers attributed the lack of thought and planning put into the ultimately disastrous Poll Tax down to the fact she was constantly fretting about these horrid little kids pissing out of bus windows.

“And this got even worse throughout the decades after her resignation. It became a source of frustration between her and her husband Denis who would regularly argue about whether it was safe to go outside or not. As I researched my book I genuinely feared they would divorce over it. A very sad end that so few people know about.”