I suspect The Iron Lady – a biopic of Margaret Thatcher’s rise and fall – will be as divisive as her career, even among Monevator readers (and writers!)
I am a political pariah among my family and most of my friends in thinking the woman did the right thing for Britain, albeit in brutal fashion at times.
Nobody under 30 can imagine how economically crippled this country was in the 1970s, when it was known as the sick man of Europe (though looking at Italy today might give you a clue). Bodies of the dead piled up in the streets was perhaps the most famous incarnation of a Britain that was truly bust.
Thatcher didn’t just confront the ability of organised Unions to cripple the country on a whim – maybe motivated by their own ultra-leftist ideals as much as to achieve anything for members.
Ironically, she also did more for social mobility than Labour achieved in its decade in power (or that Cameron and Co will begin to achieve today) by freeing up enterprise and working against the clubbable nature of 1970s corporate Britain.
Margaret Thatcher the milk snatcher
On the other hand, I’d agree insufficient attention was given to the likely impact of shock and awe Thatcherism on industrial and mining communities in, for example, Wales and the North of England.
Proud traditions in those areas had served Britain well for generations, and after decades of difficult, dangerous work they deserved more notice than they got from London-centric, market-obsessed Whitehall.
Remember, these were working communities then, not the early retirement homes for the 40-year old perma-jobless that some have now become.
I’d agree their subsequent marginalisation is partly down to the political element of Thatcherite restructuring, though to some degree it would surely have happened regardless (consider similarly moribund industrial areas of the US).
Even in London – where the right wing’s laissez-faire attitude towards free financial markets in the 1980s was eventually embraced by Labour – the so-called Big Bang of deregulation and the subsequent banking bonanza helped blow up the economic system a quarter of a century later.
So her record is mixed, but ultimately I admire Margaret Thatcher and her achievements, and I think Britain is better for them. I miss the politics of conviction, too – on both sides of the political spectrum.
What do you think? Will you be taking popcorn into the cinema to see The Iron Lady come January – or sneaking in a bag of rotten tomatoes?