A PRIME MINISTER SACRIFICED
Perhaps we ought to slow down. Is is possible that we are
moving too fast, upsetting too many people, undertaking too many
different things on too many different fronts at the same time.
— Amir Abbas Hoveyda,
Prime Minister of Iran
When Margaret Thatcher succeeded Ted Heath in 1976 as leader of the Conservative Party, she appointed me as a spokesman on foreign affairs. One of my jobs was to help draft her speeches, another to brief her on international issues on which, in her early years, she was a long way from possessing the background and authority she was later to acquire as prime minister. Iran was a country that Margaret wanted to know more about. I therefore arranged to take her to the Iranian embassy in London to meet a newly arrived ambassador, Amir Teymour Kalali.
I had met Amir Teymour in Teheran shortly after he returned from his assignment as Iranian ambassador to India, where rumor had it that he had drunk too many pink gins and run up gambling debts. Displeased with his performance in New Delhi, the Shah had reassigned Amir Teymour to what Iranian diplomats then regarded as “outer darkness,” the embassy in Moscow. When Teymour heard from the Minister of Court that I had visited Russia several times, he asked me to share my impressions of life in the Soviet capital. I told him to take plenty of warm clothes and thought no more about this until in 1978, when Amir Teymour was promoted to be Iran’s ambassador to London.