On January 24, 1977, the Krasnaya Zvezda (Red Star) newspaper, in an article about Margaret Thatcher, the then-Prime Minister of Great Britain, called her “Iron Woman,” which, translated by the British Sunday Times newspaper as “Iron Lady,” sparked the universally known moniker Thatcher had been known by her entire political career.
On January 19, 1976, Thatcher, the Conservative leader at that time, claimed in one of her speeches that the Russians were striving for world domination. In response to that, the Soviet Defense Ministry, in the official Krasnaya Zvezda paper, published an article by military journalist Yury Gavrilov entitled “The Iron Woman Threatens…” The author said that was the name Thatcher had received in her own country. In reality, Thatcher did have a likely moniker prior to that -- she had once been dubbed by a British journalist as “Iron Maiden,” after the midieval German torture device.
However, it was the Russian version she herself liked. By then, Thatcher had already earned herself a reputation as the “anti-communism crusader.”
“Here I am, standing in front of you in my green evening dress, with a touch of makeup, and fair curly hair. How am I not the ‘Iron Lady’ of the Western world?” she joked once at a banquet in London. She used her new “name” during her electoral campaign in 1979, which was conducted under the slogan “Britain needs an Iron Lady.”
Thatcher was a symbolic figure for Soviet history. She was the first one to discover a new type of Soviet leader in Mikhail Gorbachev, who seemed to her capable of opening windows of opportunity for Western leaders to upgrade relations with the Soviet Union.
Thatcher noticed how different Gorbachev was from the rigid Soviet administration, and she pointed that out to the rest of the Western world. It was during the first meeting with Thatcher that Gorbachev stated that Moscow’s major goal was to identify its soulmates in the world political arena and work out ways to move ahead in the same direction with them.
Though not always on the same page, they were both very satisfied with the outcome of their meetings. After Gorbachev and Thatcher first met in Great Britain in 1984, she came out to the press and uttered her famous, “I like Mr. Gorbachev, we can do business together.”
Overall, Thatcher greatly contributed to establishing a positive image of the Soviet Union worldwide, and in the United States in particular. Gorbachev, too, very much appreciated Thatcher’s work and their friendship.
“Me and Thatcher are connected by years of doing business,” he said. “She has undoubtedly done a lot for her own country. She took up the country in a tough time when the economy was stagnating, and she succeeded in reviving it.”
Afterwards, whenever Thatcher and Gorbachev met, they always had friendly and open talks and their relations preserved an air of friendship and sincerity.