WikiLeaks paper reveals US officials were recognizing Margaret Thatcher as the genuine voice of a beleaguered bourgeoise, even before her election as PM
A 1975 US internal confidential cable was intending to inform the US Secretary of State about the then ‘new star’ of the British political scene, Margaret Thatcher.
Apart from the impressive details around Thatcher's personality, perhaps the most impressive part is the one where Thatcher was recognized as "the genuine voice of a beleaguered bourgeoise", while she was described through some basic characteristics of the neoliberal ideology.
Even more impressive, the fact that the letter was recognizing that the upper class was losing ground, implying that Thatcher could assist in retaining its power by becoming herself a valuable ally of the neoliberal doctrine that, at that time, was rising in the US.
Yet, as the letter describes, Thatcher should change her image in order to attract the UK working class and take the power in the future national elections.
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 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 has dubbed her "la pasionaria of middle class privilege."
Unfortunately for her prospects of becoming a national, as distinct from a party, leader, she has over the years acquired a distinctively upper middle class personal image. Her immaculate grooming, her imperious manner, her conventional and somewhat forced charm, and above all her plummy voice stamp her as the quintessential suburban matron, and frightfully english to boot. None of this goes down well with the working class of England (one-third of which used to vote conservative), to say nothing of all classes in the Celtic fringes of this island.
If she is ever to become Britain's first woman Prime Minister, she must use that time to humanize her public image and broaden the base of her party's appeal. The odds are against her, but after her stunning organizational coup d'etat this past month, few are prepared to say she can't do it.