Margaret Thatcher film: Where are the Iron Ladies of today?


Where are the Iron Ladies of today Our female politicians are are too concerned with power and publicity


The Iron Lady: Mrs Thatcher sets an example to today's politicians

The Iron Lady: Mrs Thatcher sets an example to today's politicians

There's a scene in the new film about Mrs Thatcher, The Iron Lady, when the former PM, her mind wandering, momentarily regains a fragment of clarity and crisply identifies the problem with politics today: ‘It used to be about trying to do something; now it’s about trying to be someone.’

It’s one of the best lines in a film which is, in too many respects, a wasted opportunity.

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Meryl Streep as Mrs Thatcher in The Iron Lady film. One of the best lines was 'It used to be about trying to do something; now it's about trying to be someone.'

Feminine side: Tony Blair with Labour women MPs dubbed 'Blair's Babes' when he came to power in 1997. Many of them were the product of positive discrimination

Feminine side: Tony Blair with Labour women MPs dubbed 'Blair's Babes' when he came to power in 1997. Many of them were the product of positive discrimination

She transformed British politics, absolutely and fundamentally, through sheer conviction. She believed the world owed no one a living and that it was up to each and every one of us to make the best of our lives.

She translated her belief in good housekeeping into a radical policy that turned our failing economy round, and never wavered in her commitment to public duty.

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Britiah Home Secretary Theresa May

The most notable feature of Louise Mensch, left, is her penchant for publicity, while Theresa May, right, is far from inspirational

So, where are her successors Of those 101 Blair’s Babes, three-quarters have lost their seats or stood down. None had a fraction of her drive or desire to change the world.

As for the women in Parliament today, most of us would struggle to name more than a handful.

The most senior woman in the Conservative Party is Home Secretary Theresa May: competent, but far from inspirational. Then there is Louise Mensch, whose most notable feature is her penchant for publicity.

Ann Widdecombe was a contender who somehow failed to rise to the heights. And while I don’t begrudge her for a second her retirement fun on Strictly, the fact remains that by donning a sparkly dress and clodhopping about the stage she has added greatly to the gaiety of the nation but made it harder for female politicians to be taken seriously.

Today, after years of complacency, we are once more facing economic failure — this time, thanks to bankers and the EU. Will a female politician to rival Mrs Thatcher emerge from these years of austerity

I very much doubt it — a mark not only of her greatness, but of our political impoverishment.

Pippa Middleton's Pilates teacher, Margot Campbell, has produced a book and claims you can tone your bottom in daily five-minute workouts.

Having slavishly attended Pilates classes three hours a week for the past three years, I feel it’s only fair to warn you that five minutes really won’t do it.

For a bottom like Pippa’s you also need to run every day, eat very little, possess good genes — and, like her, be the right side of 30.

Name for a laugh

All to predicable: Pop singer Beyonce Knowles has named her daughter Blue

All to predicable: Pop singer Beyonce Knowles has named her daughter Blue

Pop star Beyonce has named her new baby daughter Blue. As Beyonce and film star Gwyneth Paltrow are good friends, we can expect Blue to become friendly with Apple.

Maybe Peaches Geldof could be godmother. These days, giving your baby a daft name is boringly predictable. I long for a so-called pop star to do something really anarchic and call their child Jane, or John.

A formula for life

I’ve never managed more than a few pages of Stephen Hawking’s bestseller, A Brief History Of Time. Nevertheless, I’m certain he knows the real secret of life.

It’s nothing to do with particle physics or string theory, but with his insistence that ‘however hard life may seem, it matters that you don’t give up’.

In his 70th birthday speech, delivered on Sunday, Hawking revealed that — in common with many hugely successful people — he was neither top of the class nor an outstanding student. Given two years to live at the age of 21, after being diagnosed with motor neurone disease, he thought of giving up. But then he met the woman who later became his wife and decided he’d better get on with his PhD — because if he was going to get married, he needed a job.

Despite the fact that Hawking divorced twice, there’s absolutely no doubt that love, work and perseverance are the answer to life, the universe and everything — and they have the added bonus of being understandable to us all.

Madonna's missing the point on love

Discussing her directorial debut in an adaptation of the Wallis Simpson story, Madonna tells the Radio Times she would like to be loved as Edward loved Wallis, for whom he gave up the throne.

Yet according to historian Anne Sebba’s riveting biography of the Duchess of Windsor — serialised last year in the Mail — the reality was that she came to find Edward’s neediness overwhelming and his adoration suffocating.

In fact, Sebba maintains that Wallis yearned to be reunited with the man she gave up for him — her second husband, Ernest Simpson — but by then it was too late.

A salutary reminder, Madonna, to be careful what you wish for.

After surveying 9,000 women, a cosmetics company has come up with the perfect female face (left): the Duchess of Cambridge’s hair, Keira Knightley’s cheekbones, Cheryl Cole’s eyes, Kate Beckinsale’s nose and Angelina Jolie’s lips.

The perfect face

Nigella Lawson

The perfect face, left, which is a combination of celebrities and right, somebody every man adores, the TV chef Nigella Lawson

They needn’t have bothered, as it looks almost exactly like someone every woman admires and every man adores — Nigella.

I feel sorry for shoplifting chef Antony Worrall Thompson, who seems to be suffering from some form of depressive illness.

I wish him well and hope he gets the help he so clearly needs. However, after reading that one of the many items he shoplifted was a discounted tub of coleslaw, I have to say it’s put me right off eating in one of his restaurants . . .

Mesmerisingly brilliant: Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes

Mesmerisingly brilliant: Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes

Grey matter matters

What it is that makes Benedict Cumberbatch (right) — mesmerisingly brilliant as Sherlock Holmes — so desirable Una Stubbs, who plays Mrs Hudson, says it’s because he doesn’t realise he’s attractive.

That may be part of it. But the real answer, as the dominatrix who briefly seemed to steal his heart in last week’s episode said, is that brainy is the new sexy. If you want to impress us, boys, show us the size of your cerebrum.

Why Michelle's become the Obama to watch

A friend whose banker husband is
being posted to the Far East was taken aback to see herself described,
in official correspondence about the move, as a ‘trailing spouse’.

So
perhaps none of us should be surprised to learn from a new biography
that Michelle Obama was similarly disconcerted to find herself ignored
by White House staff, from the military valets who folded her husband’s
clothes with origami-like precision but never touched hers, to his
advisers who saw no clear role for her.

Finding a purpose: Michelle Obama, right, has impressed while her husband has consistently disappointed since entering the White House

Finding a purpose: Michelle Obama, right, has impressed while her husband has consistently disappointed since entering the White House

Indeed,
it wasn’t until the Obamas made their first official trip abroad — to
London for the G20 summit — that Michelle found inspiration, when she
addressed a girls’ school in Islington. Few of the girls were white and
two-thirds didn’t have English as a first language — but they were
electrified by her speech.

For
the first time since her husband became President, she could see how to
use her position — by helping disadvantaged children.
The irony is that her husband entered office on a high, but has since done much to disappoint, while she’s become a star.

Hillary
Clinton overcame her own status of ‘trailing spouse’ by going on to
become Secretary of State. If Michelle wants to be a truly inspirational
role model, she should aim at the very least to do the same.