Despite an outstanding performance in My Week with Marilyn Michelle Williams may as well start practising her losers face. Meryl Streep has just blown the rest of the competition away with her portrayal of Thatcher in The Iron Lady.
The worst thing is that she made her human, and once someone becomes human it is almost impossible to hate them. And I desperately want to hate Thatcher. I want to hate her for what she did to the Union movement; I want to hate her for the way her policies ripped apart families up and down this country; I want to hate her for the fact she preached the power of the individual of that of community. But alas, now I can’t hate her.
I see a woman who broke through the huge obstacles of sex and class to lead her party and country. She also led with conviction – You, like I, might have hated policies like The Poll Tax, but she believed in it and fought for it even when it risked her whole political career to do so. How many leading politicians of today’s era would do that? Don’t get me wrong, I still think she did irreparable damage to the fabric of our society – but that doesn’t mean she wasn’t a pioneer and leader, and she deserves respect for that.
As has been reported, the film does dwell on her old age, probably too much. But it is done with sympathy and respect. It shows a frail woman who is struggling with both dementia and the loss of her husband, but it also conveys her dignity and still not inconsiderable intellect. It will be for these scenes that Streep will pick up her prize.
To finish, one semi-related thought – As I watched the Falklands scenes played out, it reminded me how grateful I am that there will always be a Thatcher,Major,Blair, Brown or Cameron who is willing to stick their hand-up and say “I’ll lead”. It means I’ll never have to make the decision on whether to bomb a ship or airfield, or to send someone else’s children into war. For that alone all of us who choose not to raise our hands should maybe show a little more respect for the ones that do.