On Sunday night Channel 4 broadcast the network premier of "The Iron Lady", the Margaret Thatcher biopic.
(See what I did there?)
As promised, I didn't watch it and never will. I have a couple of issues with this film;
I'm disappointed with Meryl Streep for taking the part, I've always had the impression that she's a fairly decent human being and that her natural politics lean leftward. I have no concrete evidence for this although she did say at the time of the film's release that playing the blessed Margaret didn't mean she shared her views. I'm sure she played the part to perfection, inhabiting every facet of the character as she viewed her, she is, after all, Meryl Streep; it's what she does.
I would have been disappointed in any actor that took the role for the very simple reason that I don't believe the film should have ever been made.
And why not? Why do I find it acceptable for films to be made about criminals, murderers, tyrants, despots, dictators but not a still living ex Prime Minister?
Why do I find Bruno Ganz' master class portrayal of Hitler in Downfall to be a superb reading of the last days of a maniac fraying at the edges as he heads toward a final deserved fate but I am unable to tolerate the story of Dame Margaret Hilda Thatcher as told from the point of view of her dotage looking back to her time of power?
Because we know that a 2 hour version of the period from 1979 to 1990 cannot possibly begin to approach the truth of the damage that she wrought to this country. It can never show in detail the decision made immediately upon entering Government to 'get the police onside' with wage increases at a time when every other service was subject to the cuts that are the Tory party's natural instinct. It can't show how these police services were used to break the miners' strike and thereby break the unions. It can't show the reality of the Battle of Orgreave or that the methods the police used to cover thre actions in that instance where used again in 1989 to cover their culpability after Hillsborough.
Two hours of film fictionalisation of a life can never show the truth that a political party's disregard for the idea of society, their hatred of a class that they felt below them and their utter loathing of a city that exemplified that class came to lead to the death of 96 innocents at a sporting event or thatbthe deceit that they allowed the organisations they supported to foster would come to last for quarter of a century because of their attitude to those less entitled than themselves.
And it can't cover the fact that she took England into an unnecessary conflict in The Falklands at a time when her Government, in its third unpopular year, riots having already filled the streets of the cities most affected by her policies, was at its lowest point. She rode into a second term on a tide of jingoistic fervour, a war PM. A war in which she ordered the sinking of a ship full of 17 year old conscripts that was sailing away from an exclusion zone.
It's not even my hatred of her individually that makes me object to the existence of this film. My hatred has actually dissipated over the years. When she dies I don't expect to feel a great deal, it will be the death of a sad old woman who probably has no concept of who or what she once was. I will, however, not pay any attention to the inevitable state funeral, I will refuse to observe any state dictated memorial silence, I will remember the 96 instead.
My problem is that any film about Hitler or Pol Pot or Mussolini or Pinochet or their ilk is made from the standpoint that we know that they are the villain of the piece; Thatcher's life story has been fictionalised into entertainment for us whilst there are people who believe that she was, as Dickens put it, the hero of her own life.
They believe that her attitude to society was correct, they believe in the entitlement of privilege and they believe in a competitive culture but only as long as they know that the winners are pre determined and are of their class.
Unfortunately these people are our current government .
And finally, a song to end on...