- By John HudsonJohn Hudson is a senior reporter at Foreign Policy, where he covers diplomacy and national security issues in Washington. He has reported from several geopolitical hotspots, including Ukraine, Pakistan, Malaysia, China, and Georgia. Prior to joining FP, John covered politics and global affairs for the Atlantic magazine’s news blog, the Atlantic Wire. In 2008, he covered the August war between Russia and Georgia from Tbilisi and the breakaway region of Abkhazia. He has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, BBC, C-SPAN, Fox News radio, Al Jazeera, and other broadcast outlets. He has been with the magazine since 2013.
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.