• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Morning Bell: The Real 'Iron Lady'

    This week brings the nationwide release of The Iron Lady, starring Meryl Streep as Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

    Streep referred to the challenge of portraying Lady Thatcher as “daunting and exciting,” and as requiring “as much zeal, fervour and attention to detail as the real Lady Thatcher possesses.” Her performance has already been widely praised by critics, but for those who respect Lady Thatcher, not all the omens are positive.

    In an interview with The New York Times, Streep compared Lady Thatcher to King Lear and commented that what interested her about the role “was the part of someone who does monstrous things maybe, or misguided things. Where do they come from?” That doesn’t sound good.

    Conservatives are used to unfair treatment from Hollywood–in fact, we’ve come to expect it–but we’ll withhold judgment on the film until we’ve actually seen it. Dr. Nile Gardiner, director of the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom at The Heritage Foundation, former foreign policy researcher to Lady Thatcher, and a regular commentator on films for Britain’s Telegraph newspaper, will review The Iron Lady for The Foundry next week.

    But whether the film is good, bad, indifferent, or just misguided, you don’t have to rely on Hollywood for your history. The real Lady Thatcher, patron of The Heritage Foundation, has a record that stands on its own, and she would want–she would demand–nothing more than to be judged by her own deeds and words.

    That’s why, throughout this week and next, we will highlight some of Lady Thatcher’s greatest speeches, from her 1983 reminder to Britain’s Conservative Party that “there is no such thing as public money” to her staunch support for the sovereign, democratic nation-state in 1988 to her eulogy in 2004 for her friend, the late President Ronald Reagan.

    If you want more, it’s easy to find. The Margaret Thatcher Foundation offers free online access to thousands of historical documents–speeches, official government documents, commentary, and much more–covering Lady Thatcher’s entire career, including more than 8,000 statements by Lady Thatcher herself.

    Any conservative, any friend of liberty, indeed anyone with an interest in the history of the 20th century will find much here to treasure. If The Iron Lady does less than justice to the reality of Lady Thatcher’s life, it won’t be because her record is hidden. On the contrary: it’s there for all to read.

    We at Heritage are honored to have a close association not only with Lady Thatcher but with many of her friends and advisers. Dr. Robin Harris, Lady Thatcher’s biographer and her main policy adviser, is a senior visiting fellow at Heritage. For him, her outstanding achievement was rejecting the belief that the job of the British government was to manage Britain’s continued decline in an orderly way. That is a lesson that President Obama, with his new-look defense strategy that sacrifices capabilities in pursuit of another ‘peace dividend,’ should take to heart.

    No blog could adequately summarize Lady Thatcher’s achievements, from her rise as one of Britain’s first female MPs to Number 10 Downing Street, from her decisive rejection of socialism to her victory in the Falklands War, from her firm comradeship with the United States to her steadily deepening concerns about the anti-democratic, supranational impulse behind the European Union. Like the life of one of her heroes, Winston Churchill, her career was unlikely, remarkable, and a mirror of the larger course of the West.

    Similarly, no one who reads her speeches, or the official documents that are now steadily being released can fail to recognize her intelligence, her determination, and her incredible appetite for hard work and her desire to get onto the next challenge. But what is most inspiring in Lady Thatcher’s life and work is her willingness to make hard choices and to be clear about the value of making them. It wasn’t easy to reject the pervasive declinism of Britain in the 1970s. It required strength of mind and character to believe that Britain could and would do better.

    Today, when politicians cut the defense budget, they promise it will make us stronger. When they borrow money to waste on make-work green-energy schemes, they say it will make us richer. When they impose new regulations, they tell us it is all about making us more free. Lady Thatcher believed in freedom, she faced the need for choices squarely, and she made them. Her opponents hated her for it, but their remedies were just more of the same, more of what had been tried past the point of destruction in Britain and around the world. They were condemned not just by Lady Thatcher’s stinging words but by the fact that they were failures.

    We at The Heritage Foundation are honored to have Lady Margaret Thatcher as our patron. The verdict of Hollywood, whatever it may be, is passing. There will always be only one real Iron Lady.

    Quick Hits:

    Posted in International [slideshow_deploy]

    40 Responses to Morning Bell: The Real 'Iron Lady'

    1. kim says:

      I am really looking forward to your posts on Lady Thatcher! She is my hero!


    2. LFMORGAN says:

      Much Better things to do than this these days! Dissapointing lack of TENACITY AND focus on our huge national problem of leadership here at home!

      • Pastori Balele says:

        You're right. I have just told people – please don’t make the mistake Wisconsin people made – voting republican in 2010. TEA Party lied them. Republican Walker stripped Wisconsin workers in public and private sectors labor union rights. Now they are whining: “We did not know Republicans was that bad." Even farmers are crying. It's too late now. But they are planning a revenge – recalling Walker. But it has cost them a lot of money. I told them to avoid voting republican – as I am telling you. They did not listen to me. Romney shipped jobs abroad leaving his employees being jobless. Unless you're one of 1% richest or Koch brother from another mother then you're okay. Otherwise please vote for President Obama in November. You will be at peace within yourself and your fellow Americans.

        • Don P says:

          That is so ridiculous. The Tea PArty did not lie to anyone. They said that we needed to get our government spending under control and they are trying to do that.
          Governor Walker did not strip you of your labor union rights but the legislature did vote that you should pay a little more of your own benefits. Obama says that we should all pay our fair share so why shouldn't the unions??
          How exactly did Romney ship jobs overseas by investing in US companies? How about all the jobs that he created in this country? You have been listening to the Democrat talking points which are emotional babbling with NO connection to the facts.
          Half of America is still doing fine in spite of the disastrous things coming in the first two Obama years. You don't need to be 1% and only the foolish think that the Koch brothers are the only folks doing well. You are drinking too much Koolaid.

    3. I hope the movie is sincere and does this great woman justice!

    4. Gina Nakagawa says:

      A woman to be admired and emulated. God bless Margaret Thatcher!

    5. ALJ says:

      Lady Thatcher, Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II re-inspired the West to defend its values (spirtual, economic and political) and defeat Communism and Socialism. It was truly thriliing to grow to adulthoold when these giants were saving the West, not only from its enemies, but also from its own self-doubts and self-inflicted decline. There are no such leaders today.

    6. FlaJim says:

      It's doubtful that this will be a very even handed treatment of Thatcher and it's unfortunate that the singularly untalented Streep was chosen for the part. Early reports from previewers haven't been encouraging.

      I suspect that, once again, movie goers will vote with their feet and dollars and reject this latest attempt by Hollywood to rewrite history.

    7. I thought Hollywood might negatively portray MT… she is a great lady and did a lot for the UK. I wouldn't go see it – would probably just make me mad!

      • f2mel2 says:

        I saw the movie, many triumphant moments, but all nestled into one neat little narrative, "Margret Thatcher was hated and forced to resign for failed policies and lived out a mad, lonely existence." Maybe it wasn't that obvious. There really is no way of knowing her thoughts through out her older years. This movie believes it can and casts her triumphs as mere fleeting memories.

    8. Spiritof76 says:

      Why do we need to write about (unless it is a devastating attack) the Hollywood communists making film distorting facts (another trait of communism)? I have stopped going to the movies or watching any shows on TV simply because they are all mostly distortions- progressive mumbo-jumbo. Why is it Hollywood hasn't producd a movie about Kruschev, Lenin, Stalin or Mao? All of them destroyed millions of people! When they do produce a movie about their communist leaders they will portary them as heroes.

      • poppakap says:

        The answer to your question is this: we need to write about a movie about Lady Thatcher because it gives us a perfect segue to remind people of the strength and tenacity needed to revitalize the West the way she did. If we don't take the time for these reminders, we lose the argument by default to the non-stop parade of falsehoods perpetuated by the lame stream media.

    9. Bolsterde says:

      Yes, I will also reserve final judgement after I see this film, however it is hard for me to believe that Hollywood will be fair to this truly national, even international, hero! She is tough and fair, in a very admirable way.

    10. Peg says:

      Boycott the film, such disservice to the Iron Lady!

    11. Frank says:

      I haven't seen the film yet either, but we should all know by now: never trust anything you see coming from Hollywood. It might be close to the truth about Lady Thatcher, or not. You need to do your own homework & check it out. Don't be brainwashed & hoodwinked by Hollywood any more.

    12. Joanne Walczak says:

      I truly admire Meryl's acting ability,but not her Hollywood leftist mentality.I saw her in an interview and she
      made the comment,these were 2 very different women,with very different ideological thoughts.Other than
      great makeup and costuming,I expect it will be typical of the movies they make these days.

    13. bassboat says:

      Each dollar spent on going to this movie will go towards Hollywood's bank account. Why stick your hand in the fire when you know that it will be burned? The remedy for this is for conservatives to produce movies of their that are produced with reality and not twisted fantasies.

    14. mtgrant48 says:

      You would think Leftie Meryl Streep would actually LEARN something (like how wrong she is) by studying for the role – but that's too much to ask, i suppose.

    15. Northwoods says:

      MT was, undeniably, one of the greatest leaders of the 20th century. But because she was a conservative, what kind of treatment would expect to come out of "ridiculous wood"? I think Meryl Streep said all one needs to know about the flim's slant in the quote used in the article. This is supposed to a serious attempt at a biographical essay and film documentarians should be held to the same standard as historians. It is beyond shameful how politically corrupt our proffessions have become.

    16. Edith says:

      Once again thank you Heritage for presenting Truth.

    17. Dr. Henry Sinopoli says:

      Meryl Streep, like most Hollywood types, will do her best to select any part of Lady Thacher's persona to bolster a theatrical performance, not a true characterization of the greatness of the Iron Lady. Perhaps she would do better to pay attention to Obama's failure at attempting at attempting to act like a leader.

    18. Kathryn says:

      THANK YOU so much for defending Lady Thatcher. I am giving a biographical report on her for a rather liberal university women's group next week. I have done extensive research which I've thorughly enjoyed. I look forward to the information Heritage will provide in the coming days and will forward the information to our group.

    19. Eileen says:

      Way to go heritage to set the stage truthfully, You never know what Hollywood will do. I suspect there up to something.

    20. Steven Polgar says:

      Keep up the work. Let there be no doubt: history is not made in documentaries. Even the best film has the terrific drawback that it is impossible to return to portions of it, to check its accuracy, or question the way it poses problems and their solutions. A written piece can be reread, excerpted, evaluated in numerous ways. Once the reader is finished, he always has the option of reading a different piece of writing, one that argues or disagrees with his previous reading.

      That complex process is what constitutes the analysis of history. It cannot ever be replaced by even the best researched and executed documentary, much less the epitome of entertainment: a movie.

    21. Benton H Marder says:

      There is a quote from Lady Thatcher in the blurb of the movie on the Archbishop Cranmer blogsite. It begins,roughly, linking thoughts to words to actions to destiny—"We are what we think." being the close. The whole quote is very thought-provoking. Words and ideas have consequences. The speaker cannot really reserve to himself what he really meant. What he says will be understood by the hearers, not to speaker. This is a problem for a constant speaker such as Barack Obama. His Cairo speech led to the Arab Spring, which will likely lead to an ascendancy of the Muslim Brotherhood.

    22. Ron W. Smith says:

      I haven't yet seen Streep's Thatcher, so I can't comment on that. While the Reagan/Thatcher tandem had much about it that provided excellent outcome for the western world, particularly the death of communism, not all the two did and encouraged turned out well. Growth based upon short-range objectives and outcomes at the expense of long-range planning is broadly recognized as one such "didn't turn out well" results of how Reagan and Thatcher approached free market economics. Michel Albert's "Capitalism vs. Capitalism: How America's Obsession with Individual Achievement and Short Term Profit Has Led It to the Brink of Collapse" (1993) was, for its early time, prescient as regards the fiscal problems the West has faced in recent years. Not at all a bashing of Reagan and Thatcher, it presents solid analysis of flaws in the economics of "supply side" and unregulated capitalism.
      Margaret Thatcher's book,which she dedicated to Ronald Reagan, "Statecraft: Strategies for a Changing World" (2002) is among the very best books on statecraft around and should be read by anyone interested in the future of the world and the role of foreign policy. The last chapter, by the way, is called "Capitalism and Its Critics."

      • Wayne Peterkin says:

        A great deal of your concern has been spawned, in my opinion, by our business schools, MBAs are being taught to worry about this year's bottom line far more than plan for five and ten year future earnings. I'm not certain I can blame that on either Reagan or Thatcher. Before doing so, I would take e very critical look at the philosophy of our business schools.

    23. Gekko says:

      Gents, I saw the film in its global premiere in Sydney. I hadn't booed a movie for years now. The only monstrosity is the film itself.

      Check this facebook group about the movie: http://www.facebook.com/groups/267876039939591/

    24. Barker says:

      It looks like just another attempt at left-wing spin from Hollywood;s liberal wackos. Take bird brain actors and offer them enough money and they'll sell their souls for a buck.

    25. Pingback: La verdadera "Dama de Hierro" | Heritage Libertad

    26. Pingback: A new weekly feature in which I give you The Best of the Political Interwebs for the week. (Clearly I need help coming up with a better name for this.) | The Cute Conservative

    27. Leith N. Wood says:

      There isn't any way Streep and her cohorts can stay away from inserting their liberal agenda into this film about an amazing woman, who is still alive. No need to include the latest upsets in such detail. Mean spirited. The Hollywood group does not know what live and let live means. It's their way period. Leith N Wood lleithnwood@aol.com

    28. Wayne Peterkin says:

      Margaret Thatcher was a strong, principles leader that was greatly admired. We need more like her in today's world. As far as managing a nation's decline, I submit that Mr. Obama is determined to initiate and accelerate our decline, not manage it. He has made great progress toward his goal in only three years.

    29. Blair Franconia, NH says:

      Margaret Thatcher got that moniker from the Soviets.

    30. Myron J. Poltroonian says:

      Here’s how Vaclav Havel described the "post-totalitarian" world in The Power of The Powerless:

      "The post-totalitarian system touches people at every step, but it does so with its ideological gloves on. This is why life in the system is so thoroughly permeated with hypocrisy and lies: government by bureaucracy is called popular government; the working class is enslaved in the name of the working class; the complete degradation of the individual is presented as his ultimate liberation; depriving people of information is called making it available; the use of power to manipulate is called the public control of power, and the arbitrary abuse of power is called observing the legal code; the repression of culture is called its development; the expansion of imperial influence is presented as support for the oppressed; the lack of free expression becomes the highest form of freedom; farcical elections become the highest form of democracy; banning independent thought becomes the most scientific of world views; military occupation becomes fraternal assistance. Because the regime is captive to its own lies, it must falsify everything. It falsifies the past. It falsifies the present, and it falsifies the future. It falsifies statistics. It pretends not to possess an omnipotent and unprincipled police apparatus. It pretends to respect human rights. It pretends to persecute no one. It pretends to fear nothing. It pretends to pretend nothing."

    31. Owen K. says:

      That's why I don't see any recent Hollywood movies depicting conservative historical figures such as Margaret Thacher. I don't expect that this film will be any different than the usual claptrap and nonsense coming out of current Hollywood movies.

    32. Clark says:

      How utterly sad that Thatcher is thought of as anything but another dull soldier for economic elitism.

    33. Terry says:

      God Bless Lady Thatcher. Wish we ahd her and Pres. reagan now.

    34. Rena Watson says:

      did Streep say she was paid a BILLION for this film??

    35. Hoffman says:

      I just saw the movie. There is no way in a two hour movie that the grand scope of Lady Thatcher's career could be covered. I didn't find any signs of a liberal agenda and I was expecting one. If you are a student of every phase of Lady Thatcher's life maybe you will find some. The depiction of her in her later years with memory problems might bug you, but how anyone can say Streep is untalented is beyond me. Yes, Hollywood is far left and usually skewers our side, but don't go "wobbly" here. It's a movie that one could find some fault with, but overall I think it shows Lady Thatcher in a strong light and Streep is fabulous! The Huffington Post crowd thinks it's positive for Lady Thatcher's image and they hate it! What more could you wish for?

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.