Google Analytics

Thursday, 25 June 2020

A Very British Revolution

Thatcher: A Very British Revolution (BBC)

I have been enjoying very much the re-runs of Thatcher: A Very British Revolution each night on BBC2 this week (the last one is tonight). I missed it when shown the first time last year.

Having lived through the period, and perhaps not always taken full notice of what was happening, it has been fascinating to watch this open-minded account of her rise and fall, to see the archive news footage and to hear the reflections of the likes of Michael Heseltine, Norman Tebbit, Nigel Lawson, and especially her press secretary Bernard Ingham, personal assistant Cynthia Crawford and speech writer Michael Dobbs (who later wrote House of Cards). It is very even-handed, and all from the supposedly lefty-ridden BBC!

At the time, a lot of people in the circles I moved hated her apparent impassiveness over the communities her policies destroyed, but the series gives you a sneaking admiration for the woman in giving leadership and having some kind of vision of how the country should be run. Wouldn’t it be helpful to have something more like that now! I think she was undoubtedly right that the coal mines and the unions could not continue as they were, but I still think the privatisations a step too far (despite having profited from them).

Anyway, I’m not going to say more. If you want a review, I like Lucy Mangan’s in The Guardian. My own position is perhaps a little to the right of this, but not much.

Even better, the five-episode series is available for the next 11 months on iPlayer. It’s brilliant.

 

31 comments:

  1. my husband, a skilled worker in the garage trade, had never been out of work before Margaret Thatcher came along.I was expecting our baby at the time as well. They shut the complete garage down. It was a large place dealing with commercial lorries as well as cars.So a lot of people were finished just before Christmas. Our baby was 3 weeks old. Thanks a lot Maggie. We won't forget you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A lot of people will never forgive her, especially when they were personally affected by her policies. I wasn't directly, but still strongly disagree with some of them (council housing for example, contributing to today's house price inflation). However, I am enjoying the series.

      Delete
  2. You are better on Hedgehogs than High Politics Tusky; still, I am glad to see your drift to the Right. We'll have you doing the Peter Simple column one of these days; Michael Wharton the first incumbent was a Shipley lad; Auberon who took over the column said he once flew over Yorkyshore with Lord Lucan, to get to a shooting party Jack Profumo was hosting at a country estate in Northumberland. I call that a bad scene, man. You don't want highly sexed lassies and gin fizzballs anywhere near shotguns and pheasants. But I expect Hameld will be stirring up the class war; a devious chap, Hameld. He likes his Waugh and Wodehouse, then by some kink of character, he's down at the Dog and Duck, chatting to Arthur Scargill over a craft ale about the Levellers and radical nonconformists. He'll tell you that if only Baroness Castle of Blackburn had been Prime Minister, this country would be like it was when Stan Barstow was a young shaver. Lady Thatcher began the great work of dismantling the welfare state and by golly I shall finish the job. The Wuhan whatnot has come in handy in that sense. Half a century of Austerity, that's what's ahead of them Tusky. A very Boris Revolution!

    Boris, your Prime Minister in Hard Times Ahead man.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not sure what your drift is Hameldy but mine isn't to the right. I am enjoying the series, that's all.

      Delete
    2. The editorial in The Daily Record (Scotland) summed her up, Tasker. The only tears she ever shed was for herself, on leaving office in her limousine. Never for the 323 lives lost on the Belgrano. Team Thatcher made a mess of the NHS, housing, the railways (privatised in the dying days of millionaire John Major's premiership) and tore up the postwar settlement which Clem Atlee created for future generations. By her policies she created a social underclass which Blair and the Blairites couldn't fix. When Tebbit saw the devastation of the former South Yorkshire coalfields, with the drug dealers crawling around like bluebottles on shit, he said maybe keeping the mines open would have been better. I wish to God Barbara Castle had been our first woman Prime Minister. Barbara was strong, shrewd, capable of really listening, prepared to stand up to the City as well as the union militants, and with the compassion one hopes to find in a woman. Lady Thatcher had compassion only for her wretched son and General Pinochet, the butcher of democracy in Chile. And she died in the Ritz.

      John

      Delete
    3. The series alluded to most of that but not in such an explicit way. All I'm saying is that I have enjoyed the series. Barbara Castle would have had to be elected leader of the Labour Party first.

      Delete
    4. My intention is to watch it myself, Tasker. My home city was run in a slovenly fashion by corrupt Labour councillors who took their voters for granted. Tories would have done a better job. Harold Evans the railwayman's son came out on the side of Mrs Thatcher (Sunday Times editorial) during the first election she won. The Northener Richard Hoggart (The Uses of Literacy) said he too voted Tory in that election.

      Many of us found her St. Francis speech a bit sanctimonious, but historian Norman Stone was right in saying that the world listened to her, especially in the Soviet satellite states. She conflated communism with social democracy, one of her ruses. Yet she was correct to say other governments followed her policies. The New Zealand writer Maurice Gee who described himself as *an old socialist* told me in 1997 that the N.Z. Labour government he voted for proceeded to privatise everything, Mrs Thatcher style.

      Harold Wilson's biographer Ben Pimlot said she was born too late to have any memories of the Depression, whereas Wilson's father was unemployed for two years, and so Harold saw the need for state intervention in the economy.

      Barbara Castle's bill In Place of Strife would have stopped wildcat strikes; if it had been passed, there would have been no Winter of Discontent, no rubbish piled in the streets, no three day week, no Callaghan and Healey (men I admired) returning from the Swiss bankers' meeting at London airport, Jim saying *Is there a crisis?* No Thatcher premiership.

      John

      Delete
    5. It will be interesting to hear your thoughts on the series.

      Delete
    6. I will be interested to hear George Walden, Minister of Education in Mrs Thatcher's government, former diplomat, because I liked his book *Lucky George*, and his honest concern about the dire state of the sink comprehensive schools. I also want to hear the proper context for Mrs Thatcher's statement *there is no such things as society*. I see social breakdown, antisocial neighbours at war with each other, alcohol and drug abuse. Theresa May and Boris refused to end zero-contract employment, shame on them.

      John

      Delete
  3. I shall watch it, she has been an 'Aunt Sally for long time, so would like to see both sides of her character. Chris Patten was MP for Bath for years but the poll tax lost him his seat. I remember standing on the Guildhall steps with the banner of the Green party as we raged against the poll tax ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's very good, but probably bearable only because of the distance. Otherwise we'd all be arguing like Brexit. I like Lucy Mangan's line about Patten oozing his way towards not wanting to be held to anything.

      Delete
  4. Theresa May restored my faith in a female prime minister Tasker. I will never forget what Mrs T did to the miners, unions and made so many homeless indirectly by selling off the council houses. Greed is good was an horrible saying.



    ReplyDelete
  5. I too shall watch it on iplayer. I think we only remember her for the things she did that we didn't like - like the council houses and the miners - it would be good to view it again at a distance. And I can't help wondering jusr how she would have dealt with Covid.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's completely right about being remembered for things we don't like. A lot of people voted for her (although not me). The series takes a balanced view.

      Delete
  6. Not always taken full notice of what was happening. Not that bad then was it? All the usual lies peddled here about the miners I see. Can't be arsed to go into it. They all know really. Your follower who prefers Saddam Hussein has yet to appear. He murdered 1000s in case you need to remind him.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Even a series that achieves a remarkably unbiased view of her period as PM after a gap of 30 years seems unacceptable to some. It acknowledges the problems. The programmes are not the person.

      Delete
  7. I couldn't watch that. Even now that horrible woman makes my blood boil and the others your mentioned - Tebbit, Ingham, Dobbs and Lawson - vile! The only one I have a sneaking admiration for is Michael Heseltine. He would have made a fairer, more intelligent, more conciliatory and far less dogmatic prime minister than The Milk Snatcher.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As replied to Thelma, the time gap makes it bearable, especially if watched with a sense of mockery like Lucy Mangan. In her review she described Heseltine as positively dribbling over the fact he had lived long enough to tell it as he saw it without the interfering old bag getting in the way. He nearly did succeed her as PM, and, never shying away from self-promotion, said if he had become PM the country would be very different and much better. Thatcher described him as a socialist.

      Delete
  8. In 1983 the BBC commissioned Ian Curteis to write a drama about the Falklands War. The BBC Controller Michael Grade shelved the project due to its perceived bias in favour of Mrs Thatcher. The play was staged some years later with Patricia Hodge in the lead role. No wonder Curteis was bitter; surely licence payers were entitled to see his take on the war, one contrary to the BBC's Left tendencies?

    Tony Saint wrote a witty drama on Mrs Thatcher, The Long Walk to Finchley (2008) for BBC Four. Andrea Riseborough's Margaret was a woman with a fierce sense of her own destiny, utterly lacking in a sense of humour, but ready to put her political career before all else, and work like a drayhorse; and Rory Kinnear was terrific as the besotted and loyal Denis. Philip Jackson as Alfred Roberts, Margaret's father, was the key to her ambitions; and Samuel West as Ted Heath had a final scene in which Margaret suggests ... No, I won't do a plot spoiler in case you watch the DVD!

    A year later the BBC transmitted Margaret (2009) the story of her downfall; Lindsay Duncan's Mrs Thatcher was sexy, intense, enraged, stunned that she could be dumped after winning three elections for the party she loved. This was high Elizabethan drama. No wonder Meryl Streep had to play her in the movie. And more will follow.

    John

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This may be relevant indirectly, but, as I keep saying, it would be much better to start your own blog instead of making multiple long comments on other blogs, often longer than the original posts. The above is a blog post in itself. I'd be interested to hear what others think.

      Delete
    2. I do go on, Tasker. My apologies.

      John

      Delete
    3. It's between you and him, Tasker, the rest of us don't have to read them unless we want to. From my personal point of view as a blogger I am not keen on very long comments that take over my post and I discourage anyone from using my blog as their own platform and encourage them to start their own blog.

      Delete
    4. John is clearly a very clever man with a wealth of knowledge on a wide range of subjects. I also note his wry sense of humour. However, I agree with you that John ought to seriously think about launching his own blog and using it as a platform for his reflections. I for one would be pleased to visit his blog from time to time. It could be a refreshingly unusual one.

      Delete
    5. There you are John - two much more long standing bloggers than I. Thank you Rachel and YP.

      Delete
  9. I am as thick as pig-shite, YP. Like the bairn who never growed up. Your blog and Tasker's (and Rachel's and Librarian's) remind me of everything I could never do: they take me to places that have (as Wordsworth said) *the freshness of a dream*; they make me think, and laugh, and remember how good life could be. My older brother has just died in London; he spent over 25 years in Los Angeles, a city he was very critical of, yet I never visited him there. He despised Thatcher and the Thatcherites, and had a fierce sense of social justice that makes me sound like John Major - now Major really was the fly guy!

    Thanks for the memories, John.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thatcher was like marmite - loved or hated. No-one can argue that she wasn't a strong leader. She still evokes strong emotions.
    One minor point to pick you up on- Michael Dobbs wrote Game of Cards (not Thrones!).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. House of Cards - between us we'll get it right eventually. Will correct it in the post above.

      Delete
  11. Carol, please watch *Margaret Thatcher interview, studio audience. Afternoon Plus 1981. Thames TV.* (YouTube.)

    Two women I admired put questions to Mrs Thatcher: Tessa Blackstone the former civil servant and academic, and Terry Marsland (1931-2011) who was Deputy General Secretary of the Tobacco Workers' Union. Terry's obituary can be read on The Independent, online.

    John Haggerty

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I started to take a look but rapidly became more interested in the York-Newcastle driver's eye view on a new Transpennine Class 802 Nova 1 on April 24th 2020, which showed up in the list of videos on the right. Much better.

      Delete
  12. The York-Newcastle (two great cities) 802 Nova 1 sounds the way to go. I got YouTubed with a video about a gutsy cameraman who openly filmed a baboon colony. Baby baboons move nearly as fast as the Nova; these creatures fascinate me.
    John

    ReplyDelete

I welcome comments and usually respond the same day (unless it looks like you are trying to advertise something).