Tag Archives: Thatcher

Thatcher film and other things to watch…

14 Nov

The Iron Lady. No, it’s not part of the Robert Downey Jr movie franchise, with Meryl Streep concealed in a red, metallic suit and random things exploding in the background. It’s a biopic of Margaret Thatcher. It stars Jim Broadbent as Denis Thatcher, Anthony Head PM as Geoffrey Howe, Spiceworld’s Richard E Grant as Michael Heseltine, and Sophie off Peep Show as Carol Thatcher. Oh and it’s got that Tory off The Thick Of It in it. All they need is Steve Coogan as Douglas Hurd, and we’ve got the dream team.

To get us in the mood, I suggest some Thatcher documentaries, all three brilliant.

1.) For those of you who can only identify her as the evil one off Billy Elliot:

A short history of the Thatcher years. The rest of them can be found here. I know it is unfashionable to like Andrew Marr, but I do. No hack says it more concisely, more clearly, with more verve than him. And these films are classics: great music, tempo and drama. Every child in the nation should be forced to watch them.

2.) For those who want a great doc to watch tonight:

This is the story of how she got to power. (The rest are here.) It is a strange story that strips away a lot of the mythology that still surrounds her. People forget that her revolution began very tentatively; she was at first averse to mass privatisation and her union reforms were not as radical as they would later be. She was not possessed by ideological fervour and was always cautious of the political implications of her policies.

It also talks to a strange group of radical Right-wingers that backed her, called the Freedom Association. One member is “convinced” that the IRA was simply a terrorist arm of the Soviet Union. The bit in the film about the Grunwick strike is particularly bizarre. Watch the lengths the group goes to, simply in order to prevent some random poorly-paid workers getting a pay rise. The mind boggles.

3.) Strictly for politics wonks:

This is the tale of how she was ousted and the grip she continued to have on the Tory party, from Major to Cameron. It is told by the people who were there at the time, presented by Michael Portillo. Brilliant, just brilliant. (The rest are here.)

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Thatcher’s Last Stand

2 Nov

I put this up because it was a particularly dull PMQs today, and I wanted to show the power of Parliament. A while back, I was going to post up my favourite PMQs, but saw the Telegraph, the New Statesman, the BBC and the Guardian all post pretty much the same – fairly dull – “favourite PMQs” list.

So, to illustrate a bravura Parliamentary performance, I post this. It is Thatcher’s Last Stand as PM. She had announced her resignation at 9.30am earlier that day.

If you have the time, I urge you to watch the whole speech, which can be found here. It gives you a truer sense of the theatre. Point by hectoring point, she lists her achievements during her eleven-year reign. As she hammers on, you will notice the mood changes; the same Tory MPs who had voted her out start cheering her on. At one point, one Tory leaps out of his seat and shouts, “Cancel your resignation! Cancel it! You can wipe the floor clean with these people!” It is a heartening moment.

You will notice a twenty-years-younger Simon Hughes, who looks like a Rob Brydon character in a silly wig. As he gets up to interject, she shouts at him, “If the hon. Gentleman will just listen, he might hear something that he did not know!” and then carries on.

Her classic line – “I’m enjoying this!” – leaves the House howling. She was enjoying it: you can see that clearly. I hope you enjoy it too.