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TV review: Thatcher documentary recalls how she won the battle against Marxism

Margaret Thatcher takes applause during the Falklands War, October 1982 (C) BBC
Billy Foley

Thatcher: A Very British Revolution, BBC 2, Monday at 9pm

Episode Three of the television biography of Margaret Thatcher dealt with the seminal moments of her premiership - the Falklands war and the miners' strike.

This early 80s period also included the IRA bombing of her hotel in Brighton and while a very significant event it didn't shape her personally and politically as the other two did.

In 1982 Thatcher, by then the leader of the Conservative party for seven years and prime minister for three, was the most unpopular politician since polling began.

Within months the Argentinians had invaded the British controlled Falkland Islands in the south Atlantic, Thatcher decided to send a fighting force to retake them and the course of her political life changed.

A year later, buoyed by the nationalist fervour of a war victory, Thatcher led the Conservatives to their largest majority since 1924. The first woman prime minister was now in a position to dominate the 1980s and an ideological battle which would reshape modern Britain was upon her.

Within nine months of her monumental election victory, the forces of left and right clashed in the miners' strike, five years before the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the dream of international socialism. It was Arthur Scargill's Marxism versus Margaret Thatcher's capitalism in a dispute over the closure of unproductive pits.

After a year long violent and bitter clash - Thatcher had described the strikers as an “organised revolutionary minority” - the National Union of Mineworkers was defeated and the Conservative government proceeded with its plans to deregulate and privatise the British economy.

‘A Very British Revolution' didn't bring us anything particularly new about this period but the access and insight was first class.

Neil Kinnock, the leader of the Labour Party during the strike, reminded us again why he would likely have made a fine prime minister.

His analysis of Thatcher was the most striking. He observed that a leader who presented themselves as strong and unbending was probably hiding something.

“Nobody who is strong feels obliged to keep on saying it all the time,” Kinnock said and no doubt it had the ring of truth.

He also suggested that Thatcher's Achilles heel was that she framed her mission in the negative.

“Her weakness was that she defined herself in her enemies,” he said.

It is a harsh call on a politician who won three general elections, was prime minister for more than a decade and had the most impact on her country in the last century, bar Churchill.

But it is true that Thatcher is defined by her opposition to the Argentinians, the miners, the IRA and socialism and although she was positive for market forces, it was her unbending support for the Poll Tax which finished her.

****

Love Island, ITV 2, nightly at 9pm

Despite its mental health issues, Love Island has opened to record audience numbers. The Monday night launch had a peak audience of almost 4 million and an average viewing figure of 3.3 million.

The opening night included a tribute to Mike Thallassitis, a previous contestant on the show, who died by suicide in March.

Despite a promised improved aftercare package from ITV, the format remains stubbornly the same - beautiful young people in as little clothes as possible who spent their time "coupling" and "recoupling."

Remarkably, the millennials who form the bulk of the audience seem content with this despite its highly conservative and traditional ethos and the continued lack of any LGBT participants.

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