Meryl Streep’s performance as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady has seen critics run short of superlatives, but there’s one person it hasn’t impressed: Norman Tebbit, one of Thatcher’s staunchest supporters and a man who was a member of her party cabinet between 1981 and 1987.
The former Conservative party chairman and trade and industry secretary wasn’t just indifferent about Streep’s portrayal of the former prime minister; he seemed to actively dislike it. Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Tebbit pronounced:
“She was always open to persuasion, but only by argument and facts properly marshaled and presented, and she could be hard – perhaps at times unfairly so – on colleagues who failed her standards. However, she was never, in my experience, the half-hysterical, over-emotional, over-acting woman portrayed by Meryl Streep.”
Interestingly, Tebbit said the film’s director and screenwriter, Phyllida Lloyd and Abi Morgan, hadn’t asked him for advice:
“You might think that if you were setting out to make a so-called ‘biopic’ about such a dominant figure on the political stage of the late 20th century, your researchers would have sought out those who were closest to her in those years and asked them. I do not know whom the makers of the Meryl Streep film talked to. Perhaps Michael Heseltine or Geoffrey Howe, but certainly not me.”
Tebbit’s not the only one wearing crankypants. Former Thatcher PR adviser Tim Bell also had a bleat about the film, basically dismissing it as an irrelevance:
“I can’t be bothered to sensationalise this rubbish. Its only value is to make some money for Meryl Streep and whoever wrote it. I have no interest in seeing it. I don’t need a film to remind me of my experiences of her. It is a non-event.”
You’d have thought a Thatcherite like Bell would have related to cynically generating as much individual wealth as possible from the pockets of poorer people. Maybe he’s softened a bit.
The Iron Lady is released on December 30th in the U.S, and on January 6th, 2012. It is, inevitably, already being tipped for success at the Oscars.