Before anyone in the United States knew who Margaret Thatcher was — including the president — it was the job of a U.S. diplomat to describe this new rising star in Britain’s political scene. The year was 1975, Gerald Ford was president, and Thatcher had just successfully challenged former Prime Minister Edward Heath for the Conservative Party’s leadership. In a newly digitized cable from WikiLeaks, a U.S. diplomat gives a colorful and breathless first impression of the Iron Lady before she became a giant of the 20th century. The document is dated Feb. 12, 1975, from the U.S. Embassy in London to the U.S. secretary of state:
Amusingly, the cable goes on discuss Thatcher’s lack of a common touch, despite the fact that she came from modest means and always took pride in being a “grocer’s daughter.” Notice the reference to “Thatcher the Milk Snatcher.”
Another cable continues on this note, describing her as “frightfully English”:
Little did U.S. officials know that Thatcher would become one of the most transformational figures of the last 50 years. But hey, here’s to first drafts.
Daniel W. Drezner is professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and a senior editor at The National Interest. Prior to Fletcher, he taught at the University of Chicago and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Drezner has received fellowships from the German Marshall Fund of the United States, the Council on Foreign Relations, and Harvard University. He has previously held positions with Civic Education Project, the RAND Corporation, and the Treasury Department.| Daniel W. Drezner |