THATCHER IS STILL SMARTING.
And Lady Thatcher predicted that Tony Blair's party will also win the next general election.
Her comments were revealed as the Prime Minister was flying into Scotland to start a four- day meet-the-people tour north of the Border.
Lady Thatcher yesterday referred to her defeat in the Tory party leadership vote as "that incident".
She added: "The disaster of losing the election was catastrophic for me because I got things right and that defeat stemmed from that incident ."
Interviewed for the September issue of Saga magazine for older people, she said: "The people who brought about that incident are responsible for the biggest defeat the Conservative Party has ever had.
"They have let the Labour Party in, and big! You won't turn that round in one election."
Lady Thatcher, now 72, ruled out a return to power and said: "No-one should ever try to go back."
She confessed that even if she had remained PM she was "not sure it would have been right for me to go on even after another successful election".
In the revealing article, Lady Thatcher said she is slightly deaf, and that her husband, Sir Denis, 83, can no longer play golf because he has arthritis in his hands.
She also spoke of her sadness at not seeing as much of her children Mark and Carol as she would like. She said: "It's very sad. It's something I thought would never happen."
But she had thought it was right for them both to leave the country to get out of the political limelight.
Mark lives in South Africa with his family and Carol is in Switzerland.
She added: "You can't have everything. There's no point in bewailing what might have been.
"I haven't lost my children. They have to live their lives. I took a different life.
"My greatest delight is when my daughter-in-law sends me photographs of the grandchildren.
"Apart from seeing them in the flesh, that is the greatest pleasure I have in the whole year, far exceeding everything else."
Last night, a Labour Party spokeswoman said memories of Margaret Thatcher played a big part in Labour's huge win in May last year.
Meanwhile, Tony Blair flew into a major row in Scotland last night.
SNP chief executive Mike Russell claimed he had struck a deal with Labour that there would be no political campaigning following the death of SNP deputy leader and North East Euro MP Dr Allan Macartney.
But Mr Blair launched a scathing attack on the Nats in a newspaper article yesterday.
Last night, Labour defended Mr Blair and said there had been no temporary truce in campaigning.