UK

Margaret Thatcher Praised Robert Mugabe For His 'Friendly And Open Manner'

22/03/2013 07:15 GMT

Lady Thatcher's 1982 private papers include a number of brief mentions of figures who would go on to play a significant role in public and political life.

They include an early meeting with Robert Mugabe, who had been elected as Prime Minister of Zimbabwe in 1980.

Now widely condemned over violent land seizures, Mugabe was at that time still considered a hero by many after his role in the guerrilla movement against white-minority rule.

thatcher mugabe

Prime minster Margaret Thatcher with Zimbabwean resident Robert Mugabe at Chequers in 1988

At a lunch held in his honour on 19 May 19 1982, Lady Thatcher praised him for his "friendly and open manner".

She added: "A successful Zimbabwe will undoubtedly contribute to the peace and stability of Central and Southern Africa as a whole, and we wish you and your colleagues well in your endeavours."

The papers also include a first mention of the Conservative party's future nemesis, Tony Blair.

He stood as Labour's candidate in the Beaconsfield by-election in May 1982.

A Central Office briefing on the seat failed to even mention his name, instead focusing on local issues such as gravel extraction, waste disposal, aircraft noise and "a feeling of dislike for Slough".

The only mention of Mr Blair, who was elected as MP for Sedgefield the following year, came in a list of candidates dated 27 May.

There is also a passing mention of the now-disgraced DJ Jimmy Savile, who she went on to develop a friendship with.

In a reply to a letter from him, dated 20 April and which does not survive, she writes: "Very many thanks for your letter. It was most encouraging to hear from you at this difficult time.

"Ps Best wishes to all kind friends at Stoke Mandeville".