The Age of Reason
By Peter Carr
The much-trumpeted arrival of Season Four of the docudrama The Queen has, no, doubt, seen a plethora of people with free time available being glued to their screens.
The concentration in this latest series (and I am only up to item 3) appears to be centric on two ladies of quite different (and differing) generations coupled with their influence upon the British public. And to a certain extent the remainder of the English-speaking world.
These two quite singular women – Margaret Thatcher and Diana Spencer – each wove a mysterious and effective spell on the island nation. Each had a spectacular entrance into and upon the public scene. Mrs T, originating from a humble middle-class background through her father’s retail premises – and a brilliant sojourn at Oxford – landed all huffing and puffing at the top chair at the Cabinet table. She then decided to take the mainly elderly (and very white) group of Ministers and shake them up and around. And in many cases – right out. She brought in younger people who would help her to carry out her crusade against union-dominated commerce, appalling stand over tactics on both sides of the working spectrum – and turning around the hopes and aspirations from ‘more of the same’ towards a springboard of export-driven commercial success.
That’s not to forget her tarrying awhile with the help of the armed forces and the Merchant Navy to throw the Spanish-speaking illegal inhabitants off the rock-strewn shores of a remote group of South Atlantic islands.
Her interface with Her Majesty, as depicted by their weekly Tuesday meetings, showed the starch resolve of Mrs T matched by the historically-driven but ‘been there before’ attitude of HM. Both excellent leaders in their own spheres but with quite opposite ideals of reaching the target.
On the other hand the arrival of a teenage girl – without any form of formal educational qualifications – at the gates of The Palace – would have been dreamtime stuff for most of the somewhat hysterical writers of the low journalistic value women’s magazines. But this lass was made of Thatcher-like stuff as she fought the oppressive ‘firm’ to be recognised in her own right. She won the hearts and minds of millions of people throughout the world, clearly demonstrating the total unfairness and heavily skewed marital ground upon which she found herself. When she tragically died pursued by money-grabbing photographers (feeding low level journals) the reaction in her favour was truly amazing.
Both of these ladies – each in a very unconnected manner – had a good story to tell. In very different ways but both of them entirely believable. Each of them passionate about their beliefs in the welfare of those who could not fend for themselves.
So as we emerge from our recent national election into a topsy-turvey world of financial morass we need to recognise that we, too, require firm and resolute leadership to bring us back to normality. Poor government can only bring poor results. So it behoves all of us to give them a fair go. Watching our new Foreign Affairs Minister this morning – herself absolutely new to the portfolio – was indeed a breath of fresh air. Focussed, firm, admitting when she could not answer that she would ascertain the truth – and ethnically competent to ensure that our South Pacific mix is portrayed with a balanced view internationally.