I have always admired former British prime minister, Baroness Margaret Thatcher. And although I haven’t always agreed with some of her politics — notably her pro-apartheid stance and the introduction of the poll tax — in her heyday, she was undoubtedly a strong and decisive woman who led from the top, took substantial risks and wasn’t fazed by standing alone on key policy issues. The Russians didn’t tag her the “Iron Lady” for nothing. And as a supporter, I am hugely looking forward to seeing her biopic ” The Iron Lady” over the next few days.
Since “The Iron Lady” opened in the UK, approximately two weeks ago, there has been a lot of hullabaloo over its accuracy and the emphasis on Baroness Thatcher’s illness. Biopics are almost always controversial. “Malcolm X” was controversial and so was “Ali” and “JFK,” to name but a few. It just isn’t always easy to cramp an illustrious career into an average 2-hour long film, hence the conclusion from some film critics that biopics just don’t work.
I am rather miffed that the biopic highlights the former prime minster’s present poor health. Even though she has been quite poorly for some time now, Baroness Thatcher is now 86 and her illness is far removed from her political career, which ended roughly 20 years ago. Hopefully, those who will go to see this film will be far more interested in the portrayal of Baroness Thatcher’s rise to fame and glory, and her political achievements, than the aging process and dementia.
What’s more, it really and truly pains me when people jump on any bandwagon for their own selfish interests, and are totally oblivious to the hurt they cause others in the process. In a recent interview with “The Guardian” newspaper, former Tory cabinet minister, Jonathan Aitken, said of the film that he was “uncomfortable and a bit upset about the vehicle of the dementia-ridden lady who flips in and out.” But then in true hypocritical fashion he reveals that Baroness Thatcher exhibited signs of dementia when she attended a dinner party at his home a year ago: “She suddenly started to talk about Keith Joseph [the politician credited with inventing Thatcherism], then later about the preparations for her wedding.”
Aitken also recounted a fellow former Cabinet member at his dinner party asking a question about David Cameron, but Baroness Thatcher “obviously didn’t get who David Cameron was…”
Now some may excuse Aitken’s telling tales out of school as nothing but a sly strategy to whip up enthusiasm and publicity for his own biography of Baroness Thatcher, but I think his indiscretion smacks of a betrayal of sorts. How would he feel if, in 15 years time (age 84), he wet himself at a dinner party, due to a medical condition, and his host went public with that information? For heaven’s sake, the Iron Lady is now 86 years old! How many of us will make it to 86, much less, gracefully?
Jonathan Aitken surely owes Baroness Thatcher a profound apology for his indiscretion. And when his book is eventually published, Aitken should be compelled to make a significant donation from the proceeds to a charity that promotes research into conditions of the brain including dementia.
The video clip posted below shows Baroness Thatcher in full bloom at her last prime ministers questions in the House of Commons. Oh what good memories of the way she really was.