Iron Lady

Well about four out of ten – pretty poor really.

Alison and I claimed our Senior Citizen discount .. paid a booking fee .. sat in an almost empty cinema thinking about this week’s revelations about how our mental capacity begins to decline from early middle age. Surely the dementia theme in the Iron Lady was very much overdone? Though I couldn’t help being reminded of that extraordinary day of the Pope’s visit when I sat across the stage of Westminster Hall from a line of British Prime Ministers and watched Mrs Thatcher holding her programme like somebody who wasn’t quite sure.

Why poor? Well because there must have so much more to Mrs T than the simplistic portrayal of her in this film. It’s not just strong women against weak men. They failed to flesh out – as it were – what she was actually trying to do. Failed to suggest that her policies might unwittingingly have been part of what made possible the crash of 2008. Failed to make anything much of her misquotation of the Prayer of St Francis – and her remarkable statement in 1980 that ‘no-one would remember the Good Samaritan if he’d had only good intentions; he had money as well.’ Failed – and why did they miss this one – to mention her reputedly formidable sex appeal, Dennis Healey [the one who described being attacked by Sir Geoffrey Howe as being like being savaged by a dead sheep] described her as one who ‘behaves with all the sensitivity of a sex starved boa constrictor’

Some of the reviews suggested that her fall was the inevitable nemesis which follows on hubris. She clearly passed from being determined to being impossible. Yes I hear that. And maybe there was a bit of early dementia in her spectacular rant at the Cabinet table. But what I found most extraordinary – and maybe here indeed were the seeds of her downfall – was the apparent total absence of any humour .. any ability to find herself funny. Or – and this is the more difficult one – any readiness to allow others to find her funny.

Was she really like that? I doubt it.


  1. I agree with your analysis of this film, Bishop David. I was a teenager in the 1980`s and must confess that i thoroughly loathed Mrs Thatcher. It was only years later, that i began to re-assess my opinion of her and of course accept that my previous dislike for her was a knee jerk response to some of her policies. It `s a shame that having matured myself, this same knee jerk reaction to Mrs Thatcher still exists in Scotland today. I`ve no doubt Meryl will win the oscar, but overall it was a disappointing film. All the best.

  2. Dear David,
    Thank you for your fair review of the Iron Lady. The questions are appropriate,but I wonder about the emphasis on senility. We both have some personal experience of Lady Thatcher and really dislike her being reviled as an icon of hate by almost everyone we meet. She is an odd and difficult person but does not deserve this treatment.
    We are going to see the film tomorrow with your briefing.
    A good New Year to you both,

  3. Oh heck. Should we change our plans and see The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo tomorrow instead?

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