The Iron Lady

Let’s talk about cinema (in relation with the topic of this blog of course!)

Since Wednesday, “The Iron Lady” is in the theatres in France and comes back on the story of Margaret Thatcher, Conservative Party leader and first British woman PM from 1979 to 1990, the unique woman for occupying the 10 Downing Street premises so far.

Without telling you the story, I have to say I was convinced by the Phyllida Lloyd film although it remains quite consensual. Indeed, if some points of the Thatcher personality and some key-points of her political life were evocated, some subjects were put aside or less put forward as the minors’ strike of 1984 or her determination against the Irish Republican Army and the excess followed (as far as Bobby Sands is concerned for example)

To this occasion, I found an essay I wrote more four years ago for my English teacher. An essay I wrote just after the beginning of the Sarkozy’s presidency and in which I explained why Thatcherism could not be imported in France.


“Margaret Thatcher was a woman who made mistakes […] but she took a country which had lost faith in itself […] and left it stronger, richer and more self-confident then when she came in […] We are, all of us like it or not, rebel or not, the children of Margaret Thatcher” (Andrew Marr, Marr on history)

Margaret Thatcher is still a very controversial woman in the United Kingdom. Indeed, she succeeded in giving confidence to her country when she was Prime minister between 1979 and 1990 and we must recognize that her policies were very effective in order to put Great Britain on its feet again. That is why, the following Prime ministers (John Major, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown) do not want, obviously, to question Thatcherism. Thanks to her method, the United Kingdom still is an attractive country and a radiant one in the world. We can even add that Tony Blair, when he was Prime minister, was in other ways, a child of Thatcher. In fact, the “Third Way” (designed by Peter Mandelson, Gordon Brown and himself in 1994) is directly inspired by Thatcherism is various subjects. So, it is eventually not surprising that Tony Blair suggests a national funeral when Margaret Thatcher dies.

Nonetheless, Britons forgets that Thatcher increased the inequalities between the middle-class and the lower-class and opposed, for instance, rich people against poor people. Her well-known intransigency towards Trade Unions, European Union (“I want my money back”, she told to François Mitterrand and Helmult Kohl at Fontainebleau Summit in 1984)… became very serious disadvantages for her policy and her image. For example, the former French president, François Mitterrand declared: “Ah Margaret Thatcher! She has the eyes of Caligula but the mouth of Marylin Monroe!” which is very paradoxical especially when we know what Caligula did during his reign at Rome!

Furthermore, Margaret Thatcher favoured a policy and a culture of money in Great Britain, what is quite obscene in a country where there were two populations: rich people and the others. That is why I do not think Thatcherism can be imported in France. By the way, the French magazine “Marianne” argued that the current French president, Nicolas Sarkozy is not a child of Margaret Thatcher but of the previous president, Jacques Chirac! In other words, Nicolas Sarkozy cannot import Thatcherism to impose and set his policy. Indeed, Thatcherism is very unpopular in the ‘Hexagon’. French people cannot for instance support this culture of money that Thatcher defended throughout her mandates.

What is more, Thatcher, through her policy, helped to divide her own country. It is, indeed, quite strange especially when we remember that Thatcher won the Falkland’s War against Argentina in 1982. Her victory raised strong Briton patriotism but it was fast and very short-lived.

“So ended up the most extraordinary national-changing prime minister-ship of modern British history” said Andrew Marr. To sum up, I still keep a controversial image of the former Prime minister. She had certainly put Great Britain on its feet again but the price was very hard to pay. Nonetheless, we must consider that Margaret Thatcher is still a very important political woman on the other side of the Channel.

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