April 11, 2013 at 9:36 am #98429
Glenda Jackson has been a Labour MP for the last 20 years or so. Here is an epic rant she gave yesterday decrying Thatcherism and the damage it did to the people of the UK. She’s a two time Oscar winner who many people wonder what she is doing these days. Here she is in all her glory:April 11, 2013 at 10:29 am #98432
This is Glenda Jackson’s best performance, and it’s also the best script she’s ever read from. The person who wrote it is very creative.April 11, 2013 at 10:52 am #98433
Brilliant speech! Glad she had the balls to speak for many of the people and wasn’t as weak as the other MPs.
In related news, ‘Ding-Dong the Witch is Dead’ from The Wizard of Oz, is currently number 1 on UK iTunes….April 11, 2013 at 11:52 am #98434
Give her an Oscar for that!April 11, 2013 at 11:52 am #98435
For an alternative, here’s Andrew Sullivan’s piece from his website:
I remember reading an article in the Washington Monthly back in the late 1980s by one of the smugger liberal British columnists, Polly Toynbee. It captured part of the true derangement that Margaret Thatcher brought out in her political foes. It was called simply: “Is Margaret Thatcher A Woman?” It’s still online. It was a vicious attack on her having any feminist credentials. It included this magnificent lie:
She has experienced nothing but advantage from her gender.
Toynbee’s case is worth hearing out, but it’s an instant classic of the worst British trait: resentment of others’ success. No culture I know of is more brutally unkind to its public figures, hateful toward anyone with a degree of success or money, or more willing to ascribe an individual’s achievements to something other than their own ability. The Britain I grew up with was, in this specific sense, profoundly leftist in the worst sense. It was cheap and greedy and yet hostile to anyone with initiative, self-esteem, and the ability to make money.
The clip below captures the left-liberal sentiment of the time perfectly. Yes: the British left would prefer to keep everyone poorer if it meant preventing a few getting richer. And the massively powerful trade union movement worked every day to ensure that mediocrity was protected, individual achievement erased, and that all decisions were made collectively, i.e. with their veto. And so – to take the archetypal example – Britain’s coal-workers fought to make sure they could work unprofitable mines for years of literally lung-destroying existence and to pass it on to their sons for yet another generation of black lung. This “right to work” was actually paid for by anyone able to make a living in a country where socialism had effectively choked off all viable avenues for prosperity. And if you suggested that the coal industry needed to be shut down in large part or reshaped into something commercial, you were called, of course, a class warrior, a snob, a Tory fascist, etc. So hard-working Brits trying to make a middle class living were taxed dry to keep the life-spans of powerful mine-workers short.
To put it bluntly: The Britain I grew up in was insane. The government owned almost all major manufacturing, from coal to steel to automobiles. Owned. It employed almost every doctor and owned almost every hospital. Almost every university and elementary and high school was government-run. And in the 1970s, you could not help but realize as a young Brit, that you were living in a decaying museum – some horrifying mixture of Eastern European grimness surrounded by the sculptured bric-a-brac of statues and buildings and edifices that spoke of an empire on which the sun had once never set. Now, in contrast, we lived on the dark side of the moon and it was made up of damp, slowly degrading concrete.
I owe my entire political obsession to the one person in British politics who refused to accept this state of affairs. You can read elsewhere the weighing of her legacy – but she definitively ended a truly poisonous, envious, inert period in Britain’s history. She divided the country deeply – and still does. She divided her opponents even more deeply, which was how she kept winning elections. She made some serious mistakes – the poll tax, opposition to German unification, insisting that Nelson Mandela was a terrorist – but few doubt she altered her country permanently, re-establishing the core basics of a free society and a free economy that Britain had intellectually bequeathed to the world and yet somehow lost in its own class-ridden, envy-choked socialist detour to immiseration.
I was a teenage Thatcherite, an uber-politics nerd who loved her for her utter lack of apology for who she was. I sensed in her, as others did, a final rebuke to the collectivist, egalitarian oppression of the individual produced by socialism and the stultifying privileges and caste identities of the class system. And part of that identity – the part no one ever truly gave her credit for – was her gender. She came from a small grocer’s shop in a northern town and went on to educate herself in chemistry at Oxford, and then law. To put it mildly, those were not traditional decisions for a young woman with few means in the 1950s. She married a smart businessman, reared two children and forged a political career from scratch in the most male-dominated institution imaginable: the Tory party.
She relished this individualist feminism and wielded it – coining a new and very transitive verb, handbagging, to describe her evisceration of ill-prepared ministers or clueless interviewers. Perhaps in Toynbee’s defense, Thatcher was not a feminist in the left-liberal sense: she never truly reflected on her pioneering role as a female leader; she never appointed a single other woman to her cabinet over eleven years; she was contemptuous toward identity politics; and the only tears she ever deployed (unlike Hillary Clinton) were as she departed from office, ousted by an internal coup, undefeated in any election she had ever run in as party leader.
Indira Gandhi and Golda Meir preceded her; but Thatcher’s three election victories, the longest prime ministership since the 1820s, her alliance with the US in defeating the Soviet Union, and her liberation of the British economy place her above their achievements. What inspires me still is the thought of a young woman in a chemistry lab at Oxford daring to believe that she could one day be prime minister – and not just any prime minister, but the defining public figure in British post-war political history.
That took vision and self-confidence of a quite extraordinary degree. It was infectious. And it made Thatcher and Thatcherism a much more complicated thing than many analyses contain.
Thatcher’s economic liberalization came to culturally transform Britain. Women were empowered by new opportunities; immigrants, especially from South Asia, became engineers of growth; millions owned homes for the first time; the media broke free from union chains and fractured and multiplied in subversive and dynamic ways. Her very draconian posture provoked a punk radicalism in the popular culture that changed a generation. The seeds of today’s multicultural, global London – epitomized by that Olympic ceremony – were sown by Thatcher’s will-power.
And that was why she ultimately failed, as every politician always ultimately does. She wanted to return Britain to the tradition of her thrifty, traditional father; instead she turned it into a country for the likes of her son, a wayward, money-making opportunist. The ripple effect of new money, a new middle class, a new individualism meant that Blair’s re-branded Britain – cool Britannia, with its rave subculture, its fashionistas, its new cuisine, its gay explosion, its street-art, its pop music – was in fact something Blair inherited from Thatcher.
She was, in that sense, a liberator. She didn’t constantly (or even ever) argue for women’s equality; she just lived it. She didn’t just usher in greater economic freedom; she unwittingly brought with it cultural transformation – because there is nothing more culturally disruptive than individualism and capitalism. Her 1940s values never re-took: the Brits engaged in spending and borrowing binges long after she had left the scene, and what last vestiges of prudery were left in the dust.
Perhaps in future years, her legacy might be better seen as a last, sane defense of the nation-state as the least worst political unit in human civilization. Her deep suspicion of the European project was rooted in memories of the Blitz, but it was also prescient and wise. Without her, it is doubtful the British would have kept their currency and their independence. They would have German financiers going over the budget in Whitehall by now, as they are in Greece and Portugal and Cyprus. She did not therefore only resuscitate economic freedom in Britain, she kept Britain itself free as an independent nation. Neither achievement was inevitable; in fact, each was a function of a single woman’s will-power. To have achieved both makes her easily the greatest 20th century prime minister after Churchill.
He saved Britain from darkness; she finally saw the lights come back on. And like Churchill, it’s hard to imagine any other figure quite having the character, the will-power and the grit to have pulled it off.April 11, 2013 at 11:56 am #98436
I love her for this! Someone had to say it though, and she’s absolutely right. It’s surprsing to find such an honest politician nowadays.
Has anyone seen this letter she wrote in reply to an opposition politician; again, she shows her articulateness, political intelligence and brave honesty!April 11, 2013 at 12:20 pm #98437
Andrew Sullivan has also since admitted that Thatcher’s embrace of the war and human rights criminal Augusto Pinochet from Chile (see the current movie No) is a blight on her record. Pinochet was a murderous criminal, but because Thatcher’s approved his conservative economic policy, he was just fine with her. Her outrages in Northern Ireland led to the deaths of many people and the prolonging of that internal conflict.
The woman has a skill, and the UK in the 1970s needed some shaking up. But she had zero concept of the common good or the damage her policies had on the lives of so many of the people in her country.April 11, 2013 at 4:45 pm #98438
You left out her support for Apartheid. Just like St. Ronnie.
Her legacy? She left office with her country worse off than before she was elected. It is the only objective measure for a leader. Were the people better off or worse off.
And why do people care what Andrew Sullivan thinks? It wasn’t too long ago that he was writing love letters to Bush the Lesser.April 11, 2013 at 4:51 pm #98439
BTW, I would love to see Glenda Jackson back as an actress. It would be fun to see her in a movie with Cate Blanchett and Judy Dench. The three queens.April 11, 2013 at 5:27 pm #98440
I went to post this yesterday but didn’t know where to put it.
She’s on the front page of almost every paper in the UK today.
What a womanApril 11, 2013 at 5:43 pm #98441
Thatcher by the way was a thoroughtly nasty piece of work for whom I have nothing but contempt.
Parliament was not in session yesterday. The MP’s were recalled so that they could ‘pay tribute’ to Thatcher. One after another they stood up and fawned over her memory before Glenda rose and told it like it really is.
20 years ago when she entered Parliament it was big news and she did become a junior minister at one point, but over the years she was apparently too outspoken and wouldn’t toe the party line so didn’t progress any further up the political ladder. Such a shame as politics could do with far more people like her who aren’t afraid to speak their mind and don’t worry about the consequences.
Having said that I won’t be at all sad if she retires from the House at the next election. I want her back acting again. I mean Dame Judi shouldn’t get all the best roles and can you imagine how great Glenda would have been as M or what a good job she would have done taking Dame Diana’s role as the Queen of Thorns in Game of Thrones.
Whatever she decides to do next this rant has done her career the world of good.April 11, 2013 at 7:35 pm #98442
All this makes me more angry about the dishonest film and performance last year that excited so many people just because a great mimicker with top flight makeup and hair design was in it.
I’d love to see Jackson as Thatcher.April 11, 2013 at 9:22 pm #98443
Meryl was absolutely sensational as Thatcher. The film was atrocious but the performance was spot on.
One of her greatest ever and 100% deserved the win.April 12, 2013 at 5:52 am #98444
Perhaps when The Audience, a play writtten by Peter Morgan, is adapted into film version, Glenda Jackson, though too old for the role, should be cast as Margaret Thatcher opposite Helen Mirren who I believe will undoubtedbly yet again reprise her role as Queen Elizabeth II. That would be epic! But I suspect Meryl Streep would be the first choice as Thatcher if the film version is ever made.
I always feel Glenda Jackson and Judi Dench have fairly similar diction, presence and acting style. Wonder if Jackson hadn’t retired from acting, would some of Dench’s film roles have gone to Jackson (e.g. Queen Elizabeth I in Shakespeare in Love)?