Wednesday, 11 January 2012

The Iconic Lady

After seeing the teaser trailers and the TV promotions, I was very much looking forward to seeing Meryl Streep’s performance as Margret Thatcher in much hyped film The Iron Lady. Taking my seat in London’s Odeon cinema in Leicester Square on Saturday evening with a group of friends, the audience sat with excited anticipation as the introductory credits began to roll.  The opening scene features a frail old woman, walking across London’s streets to the local corner shop to purchase a pint of milk. The proceeding shots paint Britain’s greatest peace time Prime Minister as a woman consumed by dementia, confused, vulnerable and alone in the world.

Having personal experience of a family member suffering from dementia, the on screen pain as the frail former Prime Minister becomes forgetful and confused is particularly difficult – and realistic. Yet the film itself repeatedly reminds the audience of this condition, scene after scene to a point where the lingering on the condition verges on gratuitous. This is an aspect of the film most viewers have also criticised, and rightly so.

Nevertheless, despite the uncomfortable viewing, the film has several moments of magic. Watching the young, vulnerable Miss Roberts fend off and triumph over sexism and snobbery over her humble background working in a grocer’s store is a delight. As is her meteoric rise to power, with her straight talking, no nonsense approach captures the imagination of voters, delivering her into the position of Prime Minister.

Thatcher reminds us all of the dangers of dithering when it comes to policy. In an era when politicians are fixated with being ‘liked’ instead of respected, her approach illustrates perfectly how a commitment to beliefs and actions can raise unprecedented and sometimes unexpected support from the electorate. Whilst Labour’s Ed Miliband refuses to admit that Labour spent too much, as Conservatives we must stand firm on our commitment to cut the deficit and get our country back on track. It is our moral duty to reduce the toxic amounts of debt saddling our country and help get Britain firmly on the road to recovery.

This approach will undoubtedly trigger criticism, smears and attacks from those on the left, but as Meryl Streep’s character says in her booming voice, “We will stand on principle or we will not stand at all.”

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