Thatcher files: How Tony Blair slipped under radar

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Lady Thatcher’s 1982 private papers include brief mentions of future significant figures in public and political life, including Tony Blair, Jimmy Savile and Robert Mugabe.

The papers 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, elected MP for Sedgefield the following year, came in a list of candidates dated 27 May.

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

In a reply to a letter from him, dated 20 April 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”.

At a lunch held in Mugabe’s honour on 19 May 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.”