Phew: “Iron Lady” is OK!

The worst charges one can make against the movie Iron Lady don’t stand up. I see that her family and close admirers might be angry about it, but the rest of us can probably be glad there’s an account of her time in office and life which is broadly fair (and broadly supportive, probably in spite of itself). To the slightly differing but very positive comments by Matthew Parris (in the LA Times) and by Iain Dale in his blog I mostly want to reinforce the latter’s sense that this film will help the non-committal see why Mrs T was a force for good.

The worst offence Iron Lady is supposed to have committed is that it shows her as having severe dementia. But actually, she is mostly portrayed as being about as wrapped up in her past as the next old woman. There are some sadly impertinent conceits (the idea that Denis resented her standing for party leader; that she is at war with his shade; his parting shot about her self-sufficiency) which seem silly, but they are at least self-evidently dubious or unproven. (I haven’t read Carol Thatcher’s book, and stand ready to be corrected.)

The revelation is in the politics. Since this is a movie from Mrs T’s point of view (as its makers keep saying) it isn’t perhaps surprising that we hear her own arguments for her opinions and actions. They do of course, says this right-winger, stand up very well. What I hadn’t expected is that I could recommend the movie to a young person seeking to get a snapshot of those days, and to grasp why so many in the country supported her at the time. The young may even understand why some older people have come to see her as far more right than they thought her at the time.


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Publication date

12 January 2012