Ken Loach (on Margaret Thatcher)

Kenneth Loach is a British film director, best known in North America for a stunning film on the Irish struggle for independence, the Palme d’Or winner at Cannes in 2006 called The Wind That Shakes the Barley. (It is a blunt and rather bleak film that fans of superheroes and explosions might not enjoy.) Loach has most definitely lived and worked in opposition to the right-wing, market-driven policies that found their clearest expression and results during the controversial and frighteningly decisive tenure of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. When she died this year, there were the usual voices of obituary praise, and there was Ken Loach. He called her “the most divisive and destructive Prime Minister of modern times,” and wrote that “her enemy was the British working class…[and] it is because of policies begun by her that we are in this mess today…” Well, now. Partisan politics is a mess and a dead end, in this writer’s view, but that doesn’t stop me from finding social justice — community-building that favours the many over the few, and damn the ‘trickle-down’ — a good basic premise. So I couldn’t help grinning at the audacity and the satiric truth-telling that had Mr. Loach making this argument:

“How should we honour her? Let’s privatise her funeral. Put it out to competitive tender and accept the cheapest bid. It’s what she’d have wanted.”

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