The Iron Lady gains political criticism
The recent release of The Iron Lady, the film about Margaret Thatcher's life, has been gaining equal amounts of praise and criticism, but it's where the criticism is coming from that is worrying, if it were just from fans of Thatcher and her years in office then it could be seen as a disagreement of views on the character, but when it comes from politician who served alongside her for some time you wonder just how accurate the portrayal is.
I have to admit watching the trailers I've never thought that this is a wholly accurate portrayal of the character and her life and seemed a rather more comedic and light hearted view, however some have complained that it does portray her in more than an unflattering light, in one that isn't really showing her.
So it's no surprise that people who knew her are commenting about her in the press, but it is a surprise when someone like Norman Tebbit, a man who was once the Conservative party Chairman and the Trade and Industry Secretary, serving with Margaret Thatcher's Government from 1981 to 1987 and working closely with the woman, comes forward to complain that no one ever talked to him about the film.
When I think of Margaret Thatcher's Government there are a few names that come immediately to mind to stand alongside her, and Norman Tebbit is one of those names.
"You might think that if you were setting out to make a so-called 'biopic' about such a dominant figure on the political stage of the late 20th century, your researchers would have sought out those who were closest to her in those years and asked them...
...I do not know whom the makers of the Meryl Streep film talked to. Perhaps Michael Heseltine or Geoffrey Howe, but certainly not me."
While that could be construed as someone throwing their toys out of the pram about not being included, there's a lot more to that than you'd think, for Tebbit served a long time with Thatcher and was close to her during many of these events. Of course there were other politicians in that situation too, and perhaps the screenwriter Abi Morgan talked to some of them in the development of her script.
He went on to say about the woman:
"She was always open to persuasion, but only by argument and facts properly marshalled and presented, and she could be hard - perhaps at times unfairly so - on colleagues who failed her standards," he wrote. "However, she was never, in my experience, the half-hysterical, over-emotional, over-acting woman portrayed by Meryl Streep."
Of course there are other voices coming out in support of the film and the portrayal of Margaret Thatcher by Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady, and while none of them quoted in the Guardian article are names that stood alongside her as long as Norman Tebbit, there are many positive comments to be had. These mainly come from critics who have viewed the film.
Even Baz Bamingboye of The Daily Mail, who had described Thatcher as one of our greatest politicians since Winston Churchill said that the film was a surprise for him and portrayed her in a surprisingly positive light:
"I can state categorically that the doomsayers were wrong...Streep's portrayal will, I have no doubt, come to be seen as a magnificent portrait of Lady Thatcher...Only an actress of [her] stature could possibly capture Thatcher's essence and bring it to the screen. It's a performance of towering proportions that sets a new benchmark for acting, a searing interpretation that looks at the big forces that shaped Mrs T's life."
There are many comments in the article that are pulled from different critics praising the film, but it is far from an insightful look at the politician's career, and that's something that Liz Hoggard wrote in This is London about:
"[W]here is the rational, indignant opposition to Thatcher's policies? Union leaders and protesters are a wild rabble banging on her car windows. Devastating political events - the miners' strike, the Brighton bombings - are dealt with in an almost operatic way. There is a chilling moment when she declares 'Sink it!" to order a British submarine to torpedo the Argentine ship the General Belgrano. You could easily lose patience with the frantic plotting."
For me there's definitely another story to be had here, in fact quite a few. There is the story of what actually happened in office to the Prime Minister, which is clearly one of the most turbulent and active times of any Politician next to Churchill himself, with Tony Blair standing close beside. The story of the Falklands War and the Brighton bombings could make a film in themselves.
However the film we have here is The Iron Lady, and from the majority of accounts Meryl Streep gives a fantastic performance. However the comments of Norman Tebbit are rather worrying, I wonder who from her cabinet has been involved in the research for the screenplay?