"They Would Rather Have the Poor Poorer!"

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
April 8 2013 10:59 AM

"They Would Rather Have the Poor Poorer!"

166068963
A woman stands on a newspaper displaying a picture of Baroness Margaret Thatcher on its front page as members of the public gather in George Square to mark her death on April 8, 2013 in Glasgow, Scotland.

Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

The Iron Lady, the 2011 Meryl Streep Oscar-bait bio of Margaret Thatcher, failed for a large number of reasons. One that rankled me was the absence of any actual Thatcher quotes. Limited by copyright law, the filmmakers couldn't quote much of what Thatcher said during PM's questions, or at party conferences. If they'd wanted to explain just what Thatcher meant, as an advancer of policies, this would have crippled their movie. But they went on to make a kind of scattered character study about an old woman who broke barriers at the expense of yadda yadda yadda.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

Luckily, a small group of YouTube users have seen fit to capture Thatcher moments and upload them. In her day, there were two weekly 30-minute rounds of PM's questions. (Tony Blair consolidated this into single 60-minute rounds.) Thatcher, faced with a series of more-charismatic Labour leaders, dispatched them with figures and snark.

Advertisement

Americans know Kinnock, if they know him at all, as the orator who was ripped off (accidentally!) by Joe Biden. Thatcher never tried to contain her disdain for him.

When the B-team came to play, Thatcher had an even easier time.

It's fitfully compelling stuff, but here's the reason people keep putting it online. In our current crisis, they believe that Thatcher was right, and saved the UK from the disastrous trends of consolidation with Europe.

Correction, April 8, 2013: This post originally misquoted Thatcher as saying, "You would rather have the poor poorer."

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

TODAY IN SLATE

History

Slate Plus Early Read: The Self-Made Man

The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada. Now, Journalists Can’t Even Say Her Name.

Mitt Romney May Be Weighing a 2016 Run. That Would Be a Big Mistake.

Amazing Photos From Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution

Transparent Is the Fall’s Only Great New Show

The XX Factor

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada

Now, journalists can't even say her name.

Doublex

Lena Dunham, the Book

More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.

What a Juicy New Book About Diane Sawyer and Katie Couric Fails to Tell Us About the TV News Business

Does Your Child Have Sluggish Cognitive Tempo? Or Is That Just a Disorder Made Up to Scare You?

  News & Politics
Foreigners
Sept. 29 2014 10:00 PM “Everything Must Change in Italy” An interview with Italian Prime Minster Matteo Renzi.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 29 2014 7:01 PM We May Never Know If Larry Ellison Flew a Fighter Jet Under the Golden Gate Bridge
  Life
Dear Prudence
Sept. 30 2014 6:00 AM Drive-By Bounty Prudie advises a woman whose boyfriend demands she flash truckers on the highway.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 29 2014 1:52 PM Do Not Fear California’s New Affirmative Consent Law
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 29 2014 8:45 AM Slate Isn’t Too Liberal, but … What readers said about the magazine’s bias and balance.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 29 2014 9:06 PM Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice Looks Like a Comic Masterpiece
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 7:36 AM Almost Humane What sci-fi can teach us about our treatment of prisoners of war.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 30 2014 7:30 AM What Lurks Beneath The Methane Lakes of Titan?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 28 2014 8:30 PM NFL Players Die Young. Or Maybe They Live Long Lives. Why it’s so hard to pin down the effects of football on players’ lives.