Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Iron Lady

Dad having suggested a visit so see the  film "The Iron Lady" at Wimbledon's HMV cinema for a 92nd birthday present,  yesterday we watched the film with him,  mum (herself 95) and little sister. The ages of maytrees' aged Ps are worth mentioning as one of the criticisms of the film arises from the fact that Mrs Thatcher is still very much alive so the depiction in the film of  her infirmities of dementia of some kind is  said by some to be tasteless if not unkind. Aged Ps' comments after the film were not   that the film was unkind but that they would have preferred more on politics and less on human frailty.

But for dad suggesting this cinema trip as a birthday present I would probably not have taken the trouble to see The Iron Lady. The last outing to a politically inspired production made by mrs maytrees and I was   by chance to to '13' at the National a week ago and that was indeed invigorating but the one before that was in 2004 to David Hare's The Permanent Way also at  at the National. The Permanent Way was unbalanced  in blaming the  then  recent railway tragedies eg at Paddington  on the de-nationalisation of British Railways but conveniently overlooked the fact that  earlier fatal tragedies such as those at Clapham Junction and at Hither Green had occurred when the railways were  all state owned. 13 was invigorating fiction  the Permanent Way  was portrayed as fact and being so irritatingly unbalanced and not enjoyable. I assumed The Iron Lady would be in the latter category.

The assumption was incorrect. Meryl Streep's portrayal as Mrs T was brilliant. Mrs Thatcher's early years as a grocer's daughter were depicted well as was her  romance with  Dennis leading to their marriage. Much of the film involved the clever interpretation of Mrs T's grief  following the death of her husband into which the frailty of her senior years and the onset of dementia were cleverly in my view interwoven. Olivia Colman played daughter  Carol Thatcher to a T (pun intended) and made me appreciate the good fortune of parents who in their dotage still  have the  enduring love and loyalty from a child or children of their family.

My immediate reaction was that this was a film which should be watched by the maytrees' daughters as the difficulties faced by women of Mrs Thatcher's generation in progressing in politics commerce or indeed any way of life  other than one which was 100% family orientated were well illustrated. However so far as Conservative  party politics and perhaps the  British way of life more generally are concerned the film shows that the real obstacle she faced was more one of class than of gender. Being the daughter of  Grantham Grocer Roberts  rather than part of the landed gentry was what seemed to cause the greatest angst to her Tory political confreres. British society has improved since then but we are still class ridden though in a different way. Inverted snobbery perhaps makes greater impact today than then even to the extent of some being prepared to see the Permanent Way as fashionably trendy lefty but not The Iron Lady whose story is  to the political  right rather than left.

The Poll Tax questions faced by Maggie T and the riots associated with them were well depicted. In my view  the Poll Tax does not seem  unfair in principle.  The old adage of ; 'no taxation without representation' logically should have some counterpart in; 'no representation without taxation' as otherwise those who receive  state cash benefits would naturally vote for those who would be likely to increase the cash benefits but be 100% shielded from the extra taxation  required for their funding.  Clearly there would be a need to safeguard the very poor but the very poor tend not to be average and it was not the impoverished  who  complained most.

 The crises within the  Euro Zone and the riots  frequently depicted on the Streets of Athens  show that Mrs Thatcher probably had a good  point to make after all  but that a smallish section of UK society was not at the time prepared to listen. Are we more amenable to listening now?

The problems and questions presented to the UK by Miners' strikes too and Mrs T's attempts to answer these,  were well portrayed. Again the unwillingness of Society to face harsh truths at the time is evidenced by the fact that the coal  mines which largely closed were not re-opened upon Labour governments taking office subsequently.

One friend after Mass last night re-iterated the criticism that such a film should not be shown whilst the  principal character and her family are still alive. The friend allied her comment to criticism of  the celeb. culture that has taken hold in so many quarters of contemporary British society. I agree with her latter point she made but not as regards The film itself. Mrs T like any  politician chose public life and as such her life will always susceptible to public scrutiny and comment .  Tony Blair's life is not infrequently  looked into years after his time in office  came to an end. Mrs Thatcher's  adult children too fall into similar category - Carole Thatcher who in any event comes out well in the film was/is herself a journalist and broadcaster. Her brother Mark as I recall was lost in the Sahara desert and £100,000s had to be spent on rescuing him by the Moroccan government. He has also put himself in the public eye in other spheres and I see no reason why the agenda as to what the public may or may not see should have to be set by a family in such circumstances.

In any event Mrs T, her daughter and many of her policies are well described in the film and as dad said yesterday he was so involved in what  Maggie Thatcher was doing saying or thinking in the film that he felt it was MrsThatcher herself he was seeing rather than Meryl Streep -  brilliant acting by any yardstick and whatever political hue.


  1. Hmmm...What a lot of nonsense! A very (politically) biased review indeed.

  2. Greetings anonymous TX for yr comment.
    Nothing wrong in expressing political views.

    I suppose too that all but middle of the road views will seem biased. I could go on but
    perhaps the following copy and paste of my post of a few years back on
    a shares bulletin board when the topic was whether Mrs T should have a state funeral, will be a fair response. I disagree btw (with the idea of a state funeral for her):

    "Greetings ...

    I disagree with most of yr post - too much emotion not enough fact imho.

    Poll tax - historically the cry in England anyway had
    been along the lines of 'no taxation without representation'. By
    Thatcher's time all adults were enfanchised
    and could vote for whomsoever they pleased.
    The problem was that people who paid no taxes
    could then start voting in large numbers for
    parties who promised to use tax payers'
    cash to support them. Obviously
    a balance has to be struck somewhere but wonder if a poll of
    most of those rioting in the poll tax days
    would have produced a majority of tax payers - I doubt it somehow :shocked:
    Also the thing the poll tax rioters and Scargill miners had in common was that of
    not paying heed to the democratic process.
    If you can't get it by the ballot box
    use violence. Fine for a huge point of
    principle but tax burden sharing and coal mining by adults were not :shocked:

    As for North Sea oil - after years of Labour misrule where is our North
    sea savings wealth fund for the next generation?The fact is there is none.
    Both Thatcher and Blair
    spent money on wars. The reasons for Thatcher's in the Falklands was tranparent
    the reasons for Blair's in Iraq were and are not. Thatcher too won hers...

    To blame knife carrying children of today
    on Thatcher of yesterday is pure theatre
    or nonesense imho.
    Not even Gordon Brown suggested that
    and didn't he invite Thatcher to tea with him :grin: "


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