Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 26 October 2014

Looking back, maybe I was too hard on the Iron Lady

I wasn't a fan of Margaret Thatcher when she was in power, but in retrospect maybe she had a few good points.

Judging by the trailer, Meryl Streep is about to portray her stunningly in the film The Iron Lady.

That was the title given to her by Red Star, a Soviet paper, and she made it her own.

Streep brings out that characteristic Thatcher chutzpah, swatting male Tory spin-doctors aside when they offer her style advice.

"The pearls are not negotiable," she tells them, with just a hint of flirtation to soften the blow.

For all her divisiveness, it is possible that Thatcher produced a fairer, more meritocratic society than the present Lib Dem coalition is steering towards.

The High Pay Unit has shown how the gap between the very rich and the rest has widened in the midst of recession. Thatcher's Britain was sometimes described as diamond-shaped, a large middle class with a small elite and a small underclass. Now it is more like a pyramid.

She had scant respect for old money and encouraged social mobility. Harry Enfield's Loadsamoney character - a bricklayer made good - was an emblem of her age.

Now those with money are able to protect their positions and there is less chance for ambitious working-class kids to breach the barriers of privilege and entitlement.

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