Wednesday, 11 January 2012

The Iron Lady film lacks substance

The Iron Lady

This biographical film about former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, played by Meryl Streep, is a pretty dull depiction of a remarkable woman who changed – for the worse – the direction of British politics.

By focusing on Thatcher as a woman in a man’s world, allocating too much time to her rise to power and using her current senility as the base to look back the film struggles to properly capture the conviction neo-liberal politician that the Tory leader was.

Consequently the multi-faceted fightbacks that eventually led to her own political demise, but not the politics she spawned, are inadequately represented on screen.

We learn that she stood up to the unions - particularly the Miners. Yet there’s no depiction of their leader, Arthur Scargill, or the largest movement of working class women in British history, Women Against Pit Closures. They wanted to protect the communities that she aimed to destroy.

She imposed a hated Poll Tax whereby the rich and poor all paid the same for their local services. Yet there’s nothing about how, after it was first introduced there, it helped create the initial stirrings for Scottish Independence and left the Tories dependent on their support in southern England.

We learn that she stood up for Britain in Europe, but we have no idea that it’s in order to ensure the Tories can continue to drive back the social welfare gains made at the end of the Second World War. A policy that today’s Tories and Liberals are all too happy to continue.

In the film Thatcher is quoted as saying she didn’t “want to manage the decline of this great nation” and the implication is that she didn’t. As such, and despite enjoying the benefits of massive North Sea Oil revenues, we find out little about her Government’s economic policies that were so destructive to British manufacturing with huge swathes of industry, especially across the north, swept away rather than provided with political and economic support.

Love or like me, loathe Thatcher it should be possible to make a great film on her. This is certainly not it. 

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