Commons Debate on Margaret Thatcher: Glenda Jackson goes and spoils the party by, erm, having a debate….

I don’t know whose idea it was to have a debate on Margaret Thatcher in the House of Commons. Glenda Jackson (no, I didn’t know she was still there, no idea John Whittingdale was still there either) could not stand the restraining convention of polite respect.

She exaggerates, of course, she’s a politician after all. Care in the community was, for instance, poorly thought out and ill-managed, but did eventually lead to a civilised move a way from life time care in large Victorian institutions.

But some of it of it was real enough from my own experience of working in London schools in the mid to late 1980s:

This was supposed to be a debate, rather than an enforcement order… Or was it? Here’s the wording for a ‘general debate’ on the motion:

‘That this House has considered the matter of tributes to the Rt Hon Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven LG OM’.

Some stayed away in protest

Former Treasury and housing minister John Healey complained there would be no chance to debate Lady Thatcher’s legacy and accused prime minister David Cameron of using her death ‘for narrow political gain’.

Mr Healey added: ‘He’s wrong to recall Parliament, and wrong to hijack it in this way. I will play no part and I will stay away, with other things to do at home in the constituency.’

Call me old fashioned (and I accept that here on Slugger we do have our own quaint conventions here for obit threads), but forcing a debate on ‘tributes’ is an odd use of parliamentary time for MPs…

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  • Neil

    Margaret Thatcher’s death has dealt a further blow to already strained relations between Downing Street and the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, after the prime minister ditched both past precedent and a long-agreed plan to demand Wednesday’s recall of parliament.

    Fair play to Jackson for speaking her own truth, not least for adding a fly to the ointment of Cameron’s blatant political hay making. You can see he needs all the help he can get.

    It’s one thing for posters on Slugger to hold their piece (or peace) on the grounds of not speaking ill of the dead, but to recall MPs and expect them to lie is another.

  • Framer

    Interesting clarification of a mythic phrasing in today’s Irish Times:

    Sir, – Your obituary of Margaret Thatcher (April 9th) states:“For Thatcher, Northern Ireland was ‘as British as Finchley’.” In research for my Master’s dissertation “Margaret Thatcher and Northern Ireland” (Queen’s University Belfast, 1993) I could find no evidence of Mrs Thatcher declaring “Northern Ireland is as British as Finchley ” and I traced the origins of this erroneous quote which has been widely attributed to her. In the House of Commons on November 10th, 1981, Mrs Thatcher was questioned by MPs about her recent summit meeting with taoiseach Garret FitzGerald and the following exchange took place.

    “Mr Harold McCusker (Armagh): In view of the prime minister’s studied neutrality at her press conference on the matter of Irish unification, of which we have heard some echoes here today, can she repeat with the same sense of personal conviction as she did in Belfast three years ago that she still stands rock firm for the Union?

    “The Prime Minister: I find it difficult to understand the precise point of the hon. gentleman’s question. Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom – as much as my constituency is.”(Anglo-Irish Bilateral Talks, Hansard Vol 12, cols. 421-8). – Yours, etc,


    Shrewsbury Drive, Belfast 9.

  • GavBelfast

    Is she still pissed-off at losing the ‘Mrs T gig’ to Meryl Streep, do you think?

  • wee buns

    Ah. Thank you Glenda.
    Appreciation also to an unlikely source – who would’ve thunk of Russell Brand to be a writer of depth and sensativvity?

  • GavBelfast

    I’ve just read that.

    I’m getting the term “ghost-writer”.

    Anyone shed any light on why I have this strange feeling?

  • Rory Carr

    Good girl, Glenda and good man, Bercow. Was feeling quite low and you have both cheered me up immeasurably. There is nothing quite like a demonstration of a spirited refusal to kow-tow more able to quicken the pulse, to gladden the heart.

    They should put it on the National Health, what’s left of it.

  • eyes wide open

    Well done to Glenda Jackson. If I,m honest I would have went a lot further than she did. I would welcomed recognition being given to the women who took part in the battle of orgreave during the miners strike. Faced with an army of riot police these women stood firm with the men of the village. Now they are real iron ladies.

    Eyes wide open

  • GEF

    “She exaggerates, of course, she’s a politician after all.”

    Indeed Mick, but she is also an actress. A combined piece of drama and political point scoring playing up to the TV cameras her working class constituents in Hampstead and Kilburn no doubt were drooling over. I loved the bit about the classroom walls being held up by children’s drawings and sticking plaster. Bit like the primary school I attended, it was falling apart. At 76 the old girl Glenda is still in top form. Mrs Thatcher stood down at 67.

  • Dec

    ‘I’m getting the term “ghost-writer”.

    Anyone shed any light on why I have this strange feeling?’

    Because you’re a judgemental oaf?

  • FDM

    Good to see a human being actually emoting in the house of commons.

    I watched that and felt moved by what Glenda Jackson said.

    I see nobody commented on the disgraceful attempts to shut her up because they can’t handle the truth.

    Free speech and all that. The fascists never get that bit.

  • GEF
  • Neil

    Brand’s an extremely eloquent guy, if in doubt check out his interviews on drug addiction.

  • GavBelfast

    Lost on this “oaf”, I’m afraid. He talks in riddles a lot of the time.

    I guess people like him or dislike him / don’t get him – like the subject of ‘his’ Guardian piece.

  • babyface finlayson

    “Brand’s an extremely eloquent guy,”
    Indeed he is, as proven by the title of his memoir,
    ‘My booky wook’.

  • FDM


    You must be the guy that reads the NewsLetter.

  • GavBelfast

    On Glenda Jackson, MP, it was a bit over-dramatic, especially (and to paraphrase her) the Thatcher-not-a-woman-in-her-eyes nonsense.

    But, she made some valid points and was perfectly entitled to do so – as the Speaker indicated.

  • sonofstrongbow

    It’s always nice when those champagne socialist types “emote” on behalf of the proletariat. I can forgive Glenda though given she’s not getting the acting gigs anymore Westminster is the only stage she has.

    Having said that has anyone told the old luvvie that there’s no BAFTA category for hamming it up in the House?

  • Neil

    And we all know Babyface, one should never bypass the opportunity to judge a book by it’s cover. Because one can generally predict the content by the couple of words on the cover.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Glenda was a digusting pathetic washed up old hag, a gross rude stunt, insulting to parliment democracy and common decency. This was not a a debate, it was a oppertunity to pay tribute to the longest serving priminster of our lifetime, and the first woman to serve in the role.

    Mick, hope you are enjoying the parties.

  • Rory Carr

    As if the pathetic attempt at man-playing by Son of Strongbow were not enough we then have to endure the most vile vituperation from Drumlin’s Rock without any attempt whatsoever to address the points raised by Ms Jackson.

    Don’t these guys know the rules or are they so used to being indulged the articulation of whatever bile arises in their gullets that they don’t bother to treat them with any respect ?

    p.s. Lovely woman that Glenda Jackson.

  • Paulk

    If i’m being totally honest i think fair play to Glenda Jackson, if David Cameron recalled parliament and set aside over 7 hours for “tributes” to be paid (btw Winston Churchill only got 45 mins) then he should perhaps expect to hear certain things he isn’t going to like. First woman PM? – good on you, Longest serving PM in the 20th century? – extraordinary. However more important to me is what she actually did in the highest office in politics. This woman polarised society, destroyed communties in Scotland, and the north of England, criminalised an entire city, opened the floodgates of excessive bank bonuses and sowed the seeds of the economic recession we are now reaping through deregulation of said banks. The rich got richer the poor got poorer. Not to mention her tacit support for apartheid in SA through the refusal to implement sanctions, and her calling Nelson Mandela a terrorist. She was absolutely diametrically opposed to the left and they were to her, and now its looking like Cameron and his chums want to make political capital out this for the up coming local elections and Labour and the MPs of those devasted communities and everyone else is just supposed to say nothing to disagree with the many over the top sycophantic “tributes?” or worse still lie through their back teeth and offer false platitudes? I’m sorry no, Cameron asked for this debate the Tories can hardly complain because they got one.

  • babyface finlayson

    Ach now, I was only being flippant. I’m sure its right up there with Boswell’s ‘Lifeywifey of Samuel Johnson’.
    Actually, I thought his article was quite good, and he comes across well in the whole drugs debate. I remember he put up a good show against Peter Hitchins I think, on Newsnight.
    Not so keen on him as a comic though.

  • GEF

    Alex K tells us here of his experience of meeting the controversial former leader of the Tories a few times shortly after she was elected PM over 30 years ago.

    “Why I will remain a Thatcherite – Alex Kane”

  • tacapall

    “Yes, she was reckless and more than willing to turn a blind eye and deaf ear. But that’s what made her exciting. That’s what made her interesting”

    That is indeed history now, lots of dead bodies to prove that fact along with the extrajudicial killings innocent people and lawyers who opposed her policies and practices.

    “That’s what inspired loyalty in some while fuelling loathing in others”

    Ergo the disparity between the unionist and nationalist mindsets concerning her departure from this world.

  • BarneyT

    At least Jeremy Clarkson is going to the funeral…he’s reviewing the hearse. V10 american muscle I hear.

    Jeremy Clarkson, Thatcher? Curious alliance 🙂

  • Neil

    It’s why the very mention of her name still divides the country. That’s why I’m a Thatcherite.

    Old habits die hard, eh Alex?

  • sonofstrongbow

    Rory Carr,

    Glenda Jackson “man played” Thatcher. It’s in the nature of things to consider the ‘player’ in response. Even if you’re all cut up about it I’m sure Ms Jackson will tough it out.

    The content of Jackson’s diatribe was the usual old leftie agitprop. Hardly worth a mention really.

    Much the same can be said of Russell Brand’s intervention. Should his little garden anecdote, “a pale phantom, dumbly filling her day” gives a taste of it, have been directed any other pensioner there would have been uproar.

    However Brand has form, anyone remember Andrew Sachs and ‘that’ phone call?

    And back to you; of course ‘Prod’ commentators get a by-ball on this site. Don’t you know the likes of you are all redirected through the ‘Keep the Croppie Down’ spam filter? Surely everyone knows that MI5 runs the Internet?

  • Framer

    It’s funny, and revealing in the case of Glenda Jackson, just how much of the hatred directed against Thatcher is not because of her policies but because she was a woman.
    All that witch and bitch sloganising tells you sexism is predominant on the left and in the statist world.

  • FDM

    Slugger descending into farce these last few days.

    Look at this utter crap that framer wrote!

    “All that witch and bitch sloganising tells you sexism is predominant on the left and in the statist world.”

    Sexism is predominant on the left of politics?

    Christ the night who believes that absolute keek.

    Imagine framing [pardon the pun] that in your mind and actually giving your fingers the freedom to type it into a keyboard.

    First woman elected to the house was a Shinner forgetsies!

    Labour + others women in the current commons and the lords double the tories figures.

    Closer to home in the bunker on the hill the pan-nationalist front of lefty types, i.e. SF/SDLP/APNI have more than double the right leaning fascisti types in the UUP, DUP, TUV and their independent mates, with less MLAs in total!

    Come on framer sony-jim. Self-delusion leads to the darkside. You will be drinking cider from a lemon soon with SoS there.

  • babyface finlayson

    Drumlins Rocks
    The use of terms like ‘washed up old hag’ about Glenda adds as much to the debate as all the pathetic ‘witch is dead’ stuff about Maggie, i.e.nothing.
    Also not very christian.

  • Rory Carr

    It remains however, Son of Strongbow, that your only response to Ms Jackson’s critique of the late Mrs Thatcher’s policies was a vituperative little rant attempting to denigrate Ms Jackson personally by slating reference to a whole profession in which she was once so successfully engaged.

    This was distasteful at best but really rather disgusting and you would do better to be ashamed of it.

  • sonofstrongbow

    Rory Carr,

    You’re unlikely to understand but I’ll demur from taking moral guidance from such as you. So thanks, but no thanks.


    Ok lad, so you betray your underclass antecedents with your posting, but really is cheap supermarket booze your only cultural reference to the name ‘Strongbow’?

    Of course far be it from me to question the philosophical musings of the alfresco drinking classes, but really you should at least try to raise your gaze from the contents of your blue bag.

  • GEF
  • BluesJazz

    ”Ms’ Jackson, I wonder why?
    Classic ‘Millie Tant’ of Viz era meanderings, Greenham Common , North London luvvie stuff.

    No contemplation of global economic competition, just the entitlement (upper middle class variety) justification .of ‘spiritual’ breakdown-whatever that means.
    Presumably Colombian coal miners can starve as long as Hampstead inhabiants can get their highly subvented fuel from good (british) Unionised outlets.
    Organic and GM free of course.

  • FDM


    Ok lad, so you betray your underclass antecedents with your posting, but really is cheap supermarket booze your only cultural reference to the name ‘Strongbow’?

    Of course far be it from me to question the philosophical musings of the alfresco drinking classes, but really you should at least try to raise your gaze from the contents of your blue bag.

    You go too far my dear. You have done for far too much time and have been indulged in it for reasons unknown by Herr Fealty and co.

    What a macabre place this is…

  • GEF

    “First woman elected to the house was a Shinner forgetsies!”

    Indeed FDM, In 1918 Countess de Markievicz was elected for a Dublin seat while in Holloway over her involvement in the Easter Rising, but she never took the seat. The first woman elected who did take a seat was Lady Astor in 1919 she was MP for the Sutton district of Plymoth to 1945. A story that circulated among RN sailors during WW2 was when she was canvassing in a well known red light district of Plymouth with an Admiral friend as her mentor. The first door she knocked a little boy answered and said. “My mammy is not in but she left a message that if a woman came to the door with a sailor they can have the back room for 5 bob”

  • sonofstrongbow

    Going for the sympathy vote FDM?

    I’m loving the wounded soul routine. That you deploy it in the hope that others have missed the fact that your posts are littered with juvenile jibes speaks volumes about your hypocrisy.

    Word of advice here; if you can’t take it rein in your typing finger. Do onto others as the Christians have it.

    As to your faux cri de coeur for censorship. Don’t you realise that the site moderators actually read the full spread of postings, including your own?

  • FDM


    “Word of advice here; if you can’t take it rein in your typing finger. Do onto others as the Christians have it.”


    Demonstrably I can take more than you could ever muster dear boy. Simply highlighting your massive deviations from the rules of the slugger game.

    Whatever. Continue to rain down the insults.

    It won’t take any skin off my back. It just makes you read as very bitter.

    Alternatively as a new start how about attempting to deal with the points that people put forward rather than abusing the individual at every opportunity? You know play the ball and all that.

    Just a suggestion.

  • GEF

    ‘Why Margaret Thatcher and Glenda Jackson are two peas in a pod. They may be political arch enemies, but the irony is, Margaret Thatcher and Glenda Jackson are and were both raw, powerful, angry women, who rose from relatively humble origins to succeed in a traditionally sexist environment, writes Katy Brand.’

  • Rory Carr

    Here are three responses to Glenda Jackson’s heartfelt critique of the policies of Mrs. Thatcher:

    Son of Strongbow goes on the “luvvie” stage. Incapable of making any critique of what Ms Jackson had to say he is left with attempting to denigrate the speaker with schoolboy sniggers at her former profession. A gross breach of the play the man rule.

    Drumlin’s Rock’s strongest response to the points raised by Jackson was, “Glenda was a digusting pathetic washed up old hag…”. Babyface Nelson had the good grace to call him on that one.

    Blues Jazz meanwhile, studiously avoiding any of the content of Ms Jackson’s counter-tribute decides to attempt to undermine its impact with yet another sneaky little breach of the play the man rules. Jackson’s critique can have no value he avers because she is of “the upper-middle class”. A Birkenhead brick-layer’s daughter who worked for 2 years as a shop-assistant prior to getting a place at RADA – upper-middle class. How are ye ? Couldn’t even be bothered to check it out first such was his disdain, his confidence, along with his cohorts that by simply uttering a string of prejudices, he would find a swell of consent among some mythical band of Daily Mail readers for whom such bile is spiritual Gaviscon.

    Bloody pathetic !