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Saturday, 17 December 2011

'No' to Thatcher film debate

Tory MP Rob Wilson is quite wrong to call for a Commons debate on the film The Iron Lady (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-berkshire-16216556). Such a debate would be a waste of Parliamentary time and money. The House of Commons makes our laws and is not a phone-in radio show. I have not seen The Iron Lady and I accept that some people don't like its portrayal of Baroness Thatcher's later years, but what is to be achieved by debating that in Parliament? What is intended to happen as a result of such a debate?

Are we now Thailand, where insulting the monarch (lese-majeste) is a criminal offence? Debating the artistic merits of a film in Parliament takes us dangerously towards censorship - and this from Rob Wilson, who is Parliamentary Private Secretary to Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt. Ouch.

If Mr Wilson wishes to debate "respect, good manners and good taste" then I suggest that he goes to prop up the bar in his nearest saloon bar, where I'm sure he will find a ready audience. He wonders "why the film-makers had to go so heavily on the mental illness, the dementia side, when Baroness Thatcher has had a very important life in the politics of this country and the world". That's an interesting question for cinema-goers, but it has nothing to do with Parliament. It is ridiculous for an MP to second-guess the artistic decisions of film-makers, as if Parliament can debate how a film ought to have been made. Mr Wilson can make his own film if he wants to see a different one.

Unless The Iron Lady breaks the law in some way, then neither Mr Wilson nor Parliament is entitled to demand that it had been made as a different film - and such a demand is actually quite offensive. Mr Wilson also wonders "about the humanity of the film makers who are very subtly denigrating someone who was a great prime minister". How dare he question the "humanity" of artists who have produced a work of art that is not to his taste? By all means criticise the work, but without making spiteful personal attacks on the people who created it. Such attacks certainly have no place on the Parliamentary agenda. This debate would cost public money (do Tories think there is taxpayers' money to waste on debating a film?!) and take Parliamentary time when MPs surely have other, more urgent things to discuss at present?

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