Thatcher film underfire from TUC’s veteran women

sp94495 Iron Lady Film Protests at Chesterfield Cineworld.
sp94495 Iron Lady Film Protests at Chesterfield Cineworld.

HOLLYWOOD came under fire in Chesterfield as anti-Thatcherite protesters gathered outside a screening of The Iron Lady.

In a show of anger against the new film’s portrayal of former Conservative Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, retired coal workers, wives of miners and former trades union council (TUC) members were united, chanting and displaying a banner with the words “real iron ladies.”

Organised by veteran members of TUC’s Women’s Action Group, the demonstration outside Cineworld, on Derby Road, showed that feelings towards Thatcher – played in the film by Meryl Streep – are as bitter now as they were during the miners’ strike of 1984/85.

David Fox from Newbold, was a picket during the strikes and was on hand to support the protest on Friday.

He said: “I am a son of a miner and proud of it. These are the real iron ladies. People won’t be able to understand the damage the Tories did. Margaret Thatcher was the worst thing to happen to this country since the Second World War. She destroyed the manufacturing industry. We are still feeling it now.”

And former president of the Trades Union Council in 1984-1985, Barry Johnson, attacked the film’s message.

“We understand that the film is a complete hagiography. It glorifies Margaret Thatcher. I don’t like dealing in individuals, I like dealing in issues, but of course people make issues. They are turning her into some sort of goddess and of course she is not.”

Hilary Cave, former education officer for the National Union of Miners, said: “We are against the portrayal of her as a brave lone woman struggling against a male establishment, suggesting she is a feminist icon. That’s entirely untrue. She’s despised – I think that is the best word – up and down the three countries [England, Scotland and Wales] in coalfield areas because of the way in which she had her government finish the mining industry.

“The film seems to be viewing it in a sympathetic way. There is no mention of the conditions people were living in – no hot water and very little food.”

Council leaders, many who worked in pits themselves, also turned out to show their support for the women.

Bolsover District Council leader Cllr Eion Watts said: “Thatcher destroyed our communities. We have spent the last 28 years trying to rebuild them.

“She used he might of the state against us. We are now only back where we were before the strike. We still have serious problems with job prospects and a government hell bent on doing the same.

“She destroyed the industry and she destroyed the communities.”

Cllr Graham Baxter, leader of NE Derbyshire District Council, added: “We need to support these ladies who were so important in supporting our miners. These are the women that want to be recognised, not a woman who set out to destroy our communities. It wasn’t just coalfields, but all communities.”