Glenda Jackson was a wonderful actor, nominated four times within the space of six years for Best Actress Academy Awards and winning twice, in 1971 and 1974. She retired from acting and went into politics, and was elected as a Labour Party member of the British parliament in 1992 and has served continuously since then. She has been a strong voice for progressive causes and was a thorn in the side of the odious and unctuous Tony Blair, who was her party leader. She announced that she would retire from politics at the end of her current term, which would be 2015 unless elections are called earlier.
In parliament yesterday, Jackson disdained the sanctimony surrounding the tributes to Margaret Thatcher, doing what I said in an earlier post was entirely appropriate, using the occasion of a public figure’s death to analyze her legacy. Defying the jeers of the Conservative party members, she ripped into Thatcherism with a fiery speech that showed that she is not going out like a lamb. Listening to her, you can see what made her a great actor.
Here are a couple of key passages from her speech.
But the basis to Thatcherism — and this is where I come to the spiritual part of what I regard as the desperate, desperately wrong track that Thatcherism took this country into — is that we were told that everything I had been taught to regard as a vice — and I still regard them as vices — under Thatcherism was in fact a virtue: greed, selfishness, no care for the weaker, sharp elbows, sharp knees. They were the way forward.
What concerns me is that I am beginning to see possibly the re-emergence of that total traducing of what I regard as being the basic spiritual nature of this country, where we do care about society, where we do believe in communities, where we do not leave people to walk by on the other side. That isn’t happening now and if we go back to the heyday of that era, I think we will see replicated yet again the extraordinary human damage that we as a nation have suffered from, the talent that has been totally wasted because of the inability to genuinely see the individual value of every single human being.
At the end of her speech at the 6:30 mark of the video, a Conservative party member rises to tell the Speaker that her speech was not appropriate to the occasion and the Speaker politely tells him to buzz off.
In the case of Jackson, acting’s loss was politics’ gain.