One of the early and timely gems to emerge from WikiLeaks' new collated database of diplomatic cables from the 1970s pertains to Margaret Thatcher as a rising star in British politics. A U.S. diplomat in England relayed to the State Department a number of early impressions of Thatcher in 1975, the year she gained leadership of the (then-opposition) Conservative party.
EVEN BEFORE HER GREAT LEAP UPWARD, MRS. THATCHER HAD BEEN THE PERSONIFICATION OF A BRITISH MIDDLE CLASS DREAM COME TRUE. BORN THE DAUGHTER OF A GROCER, SHE HAD BY DINT OF HER OWN ABILITIES AND APPLICATION WON THROUGH, SECURING SCHOLARSHIPS TO GOOD SCHOOLS, MAKING A SUCCESS OF HER CHOSEN CAREER, AND MARRYING ADVANTAGEOUSLY. IT IS NOT SURPRISING THEN THAT SHE ESPOUSES THE MIDDLE CLASS VALUES OF THRIFT, HARD WORK, AND LAW AND ORDER, THAT SHE BELIEVES IN INDIVIDUAL CHOICE, MAXIMUM FREEDOM FOR CONFIDENTIAL MARKET FORCES, AND MINIMAL POWER FOR THE STATE. HERS IS THE GENUINE VOICE OF A BELEAGUERED BOURGEOISE, ANXIOUS ABOUT ITS ERODING ECONOMIC POWER AND DETERMINED TO ARREST SOCIETY'S SEEMINGLY INEXORABLE TREND TOWARDS COLLECTIVISM. SOMEWHAT UNCHIVALROUSLY, DENIS HEALEY [Labour politician] HAS DUBBED HER "LA PASIONARIA OF MIDDLE CLASS PRIVILEGE."
Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email firstname.lastname@example.org.