“Defeat — I do not recognize the meaning of the word!” Margaret Thatcher wasn’t called the Iron Lady for nothing.
And, despite the fact that she left 10 Downing Street 21 years ago, she commands fascination and fear. In fact, the Iron Lady — with Meryl Streep as a supreme Thatcher — has inspired a new Maggie-mania.
“My mother is an ex-hippie who starts crying when one mentions Thatcher, but many people in my generation feel a strong admiration for Thatcher,” says Max Wind-Cowie, 26, a public opinion researcher at Demos, a London think tank. “People don’t always agree with her policies, but at least you knew what she stood for. With today’s politicians you can’t really tell what they believe in.”
To be sure, the Iron Lady knew what she believed in: individual liberty, free enterprise and anti-Communism.
“Even though there aren’t many real Thatcherites, people who subscribe to Thatcher’s ideology, left, many people look back at her with nostalgia”, notes Richard Vinen, Professor of Modern European History at King’s College, London, and author of Thatcher’s Britain.
“Especially now, with the EU in crisis, people remember her for her opposition to the EU.”
Indeed, today’s Britain seems much closer to Thatcher’s beliefs than the Britain she ruled. Last year 54 per cent of Britons thought social benefits (to low-income households) were too high, compared to 35 per cent in 1983. “Sympathy for people at the bottom of the heap has evaporated,” notes Wind-Cowie.
A day in the life of Maggie
The champion of individual responsibility can’t remember anything, let alone take care of herself.
Margaret Thatcher suffers from dementia. “Though there’s currently a lot of research into its causes, dementia is still an illness without a cure,” explains Dr. Claudia Cooper, Lecturer in old-age psychiatry at University College, London.
“Patients often get lost or forget to eat, and they can also get depression or physical health problems.”
The Iron Lady, ruler of the box office
A political movie, how dull. But Meryl Streep as Maggie Thatcher is a completely different matter.
During its first weekend in British cinemas, The Iron Lady captured the top box office spot, taking over $5 million .
This figure is nearly three times the box office achieved by The Queen when it opened in 2006.
Twentieth Century Fox, the film’s distributor, reported that The Iron Lady even did well in Britain’s North, where Thatcher remains disliked, even loathed. Meryl Streep won a Golden Globe for the role.