Margaret: Myth of a Revolutionary

I never thought I would recommend a film from Martin Durkin, famous for climate change denialist hysteria on Channel 4. But in Margaret: Death of a Revolutionary (until 13th May) he pays tribute to the woman who did possibly more than anyone else to make climate change a globally recognised issue, leading to the formation of the IPCC. But no tribute for doing that in particular, obviously.

There is much that is wrong, and more that is missing (the poll tax!) and in the telling of Thatchers victory over and then defeat at the hands of the upper class wets, she is interchangeably middle class and poor. Too much is made of class identity: both Conservatives and Labour were dominated by the middle classes more than ever, just as the Butskellite settlement fell apart.

Yet there are important reminders too of how British industry was inefficient, creaking and run by the unions on behalf of the state, and that this was reformed in a way that almost nobody now seeks to reverse.

While we no longer have the closed shop, subsidies for failing industries, and state-run airlines and telephone companies, I wonder if the sense of inevitable decline is back. We will be crippled by the costs of pensions and social care so that even when growth returns to the economy, these cost pressures will make tax cuts or better services very difficult to deliver. The BRIC economies will dominate the world economy. Jobs not lost to foreign competition will be taken by immigrants.

Decline not inevitable this time either, but it may take another “revolution” to overcome. Perhaps we can learn from the Thatcher revolution, how it is done, and what not to do.

* Joe Otten was the candidate for Sheffield Heeley in June 2017 and Doncaster North in December 2019 and is a councillor in Sheffield.

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  • I agree: a flawed analysis in many respects, but to my surprise I enjoyed it. Uncomfortable viewing for many Tories I would have thought: since she was portrayed as essentially a Liberal (like her father), completely hostile to the values of the Conservative Party but ultimately corrupted by them.

  • “It would have been better, from a political point of view,”

    Not to mention an economic and a social point of view. A woman that took on the vested interests of the unions (when their power was defeated by new technology anyway – that was big of her) and replaced them with something far worse – the City – that did successfully hold the country to ransom and has done far more damage to the economy than an army of Scargills.

  • Matthew Huntbach 27th Apr '13 - 7:07pm

    Looks to me like a television programme where some Conservatives agree with their own propaganda. Whatever next? A programme praising the glorious revolution of Kim Il Sung? I understand there are many working class people in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea believe they live in, er a democratic people’s republic, thanks to him and so regard him as a great hero who liberated the working class.

  • Helen Tedcastle 27th Apr '13 - 7:32pm

    @ Joe: ,” I wonder if the sense of inevitable decline is back.” Has this sense ever been dispelled? Having lived through Thatcher-Major/Blair-Brown, it never felt to me that we ever reached the sunlit uplands. I think the sense of decline will ebb away when the progressive parties return to key principles such as equality (I know that’s a dirty word around advocates of laissez-faire liberalism). Thatcher did little for that principle and lot for rampant individualism.

    Thatcher was remarkable in the sense that she broke the mould for women politicians but I wonder whether she changed the Tories that much? An old Etonian running the country…

  • Hmmn, I seem to remember Tory students in the early 80s wearing ‘acid rain is a myth’ t-shirts, along with their very humorous ‘hang nelson mandela’ ones.

    Anyway, have had enough of Thatch postings on LDV – please let’s move on.

  • Martin Lowe 28th Apr '13 - 8:12pm

    Martin Durkin is a professional controversialist and straight out of the old RCP/LM stables.

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