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MARGARET and Katherine

As probably most of you know, the latest biographic movie about the famous “Iron Lady”, featuring the one and only formidable Meryl Streep will be showing. Many preventive critics to the movie – filming just started on January – are bipartisan: from the left wing they fear a too smooth and silly portrait of the Prime Minister (director of blockbuster “Mamma Mia!”) while from the right wing they fear the same but from an opposite point of view. In few words: can the same devil who dressed Prada now wear the Margaret’s most conservative – but always fascinating – clothes?

Let’s go a step behind: who really is the first lady at the top of British government during 80’s, when a female leader was almost unthinkable all around the world? The Thatcher revolution indeed was one, and still is the most influential doctrine –  that inspired thereafter Ronald Reagan too – affecting nowadays politics and economics. Yet “Thatcherism” itself declared to find its sources in Friedrich von Hayek’s “The Road to Serfdom”, later updated in Milton Friedman’s “Free to Choose”.

The picture of Margareth and Katherine together – both belonging to my personal “Gallery of Icons” – helps us to find an answer and teaches us much more than any other long story. The image is related to a meeting between these two ladies in a formal occasion in London. Katherine Hammet – one of the first designer to bring politics into fashion – provided the Iron Lady with her T-shirt displaying “58% [of British] don’t want Pershing”. Margareth with perfect  style explains: “Sorry but we haven’t Pershing, just Cruise…”[1].

Anyway linked to Margareth are two of the most famous slogans of the period: “the unexpected happens” aphorism known also as the “Thatcher’s Law“ and “thinking the unthinkable”. The first was of course the Falkland/Malvinas war-gift (the movie seems focus on that issue), but in order to understand the second we have to mention one of Margaret’s colleague, special adviser, and friend: Keith Joseph, nicknamed “Minister of Though” or “Mad Monk”. We strongly hope Sir Joseph (died in 1994) will find some room in the upcoming movie too. “I could not have achieved what I did as prime minister without Keith”, it seems said once Margaret.

[1] The episode is mentioned in “The Commanding Heights: the battle between government and the marketplace that is remaking the modern world” by Daniel Yergin (with Joseph Stanislaw), Simon & Schuster. A must read book – with a nice gallery of pictures – to have an idea of what happened those times (and now).
– Gabriele Gattozi



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