Do you agree with Russell Brand on Margaret Thatcher - 'I always felt sorry for her children'?

(98 Posts)
vivizone Wed 10-Apr-13 02:00:51

Yes another thread on MT and I am sure there will be more.

I have always liked RB and remember when he also wrote a fitting article about Jade Goody after her death. Behind the spiky hair and OTT personality, I find RB to be a very intelligent individual.

Anyway, here is a brilliant (IMO) article he has written about MT. Absolutely spot on.

(I have also pasted the article here to minimise accusation of trying to get hits for the Guardian, haha.

Russell Brand on Margaret Thatcher: 'I always felt sorry for her children'
The actor and comedian recalls a bizarre recent encounter with the Iron Lady, and how it prompted him to think about growing up under the most unlikely matriarch-figure imaginable

One Sunday recently while staying in London, I took a stroll in the gardens of Temple, the insular clod of quads and offices between the Strand and the Embankment. It's kind of a luxury rent-controlled ghetto for lawyers and barristers, and there is a beautiful tailors, a fine chapel, established by the Knights Templar (from which the compound takes its name), a twee cottage designed by Sir Christopher Wren and a rose garden; which I never promised you.

My mate John and I were wandering there together, he expertly proselytising on the architecture and the history of the place, me pretending to be Rumpole of the Bailey (quietly in my mind), when we spied in the distant garden a hunched and frail figure, in a raincoat, scarf about her head, watering the roses under the breezy supervision of a masticating copper. "What's going on there, mate?" John asked a nearby chippy loading his white van. "Maggie Thatcher," he said. "Comes here every week to water them flowers." The three of us watched as the gentle horticultural ritual was feebly enacted, then regarded the Iron Lady being helped into the back of a car and trundling off. In this moment she inspired only curiosity, a pale phantom, dumbly filling her day. None present eyed her meanly or spoke with vitriol and it wasn't until an hour later that I dreamt up an Ealing comedy-style caper in which two inept crooks kidnap Thatcher from the garden but are unable to cope with the demands of dealing with her, and finally give her back. This reverie only occurred when the car was out of view. In her diminished presence I stared like an amateur astronomer unable to describe my awe at this distant phenomenon.

When I was a kid, Thatcher was the headmistress of our country. Her voice, a bellicose yawn, somehow both boring and boring – I could ignore the content but the intent drilled its way in. She became leader of the Conservatives the year I was born and prime minister when I was four. She remained in power till I was 15. I am, it's safe to say, one of Thatcher's children. How then do I feel on the day of this matriarchal mourning?

I grew up in Essex with a single mum and a go-getter Dagenham dad. I don't know if they ever voted for her, I don't know if they liked her. My dad, I suspect, did. He had enough Del Boy about him to admire her coiffured virility – but in a way Thatcher was so omnipotent; so omnipresent, so omni-everything that all opinion was redundant.

As I scan the statements of my memory bank for early deposits (it'd be a kid's memory bank account at a neurological NatWest where you're encouraged to become a greedy little capitalist with an escalating family of porcelain pigs), I see her in her hairy helmet, condescending on Nationwide, eviscerating eunuch MPs and baffled BBC fuddy duddies with her General Zodd stare and coldly condemning the IRA. And the miners. And the single mums. The dockers. The poll-tax rioters. The Brixton rioters, the Argentinians, teachers; everyone actually.

Thinking about it now, when I was a child she was just a strict woman telling everyone off and selling everything off. I didn't know what to think of this fearsome woman.

Perhaps my early apathy and indifference are a result of what Thatcher deliberately engendered, the idea that "there is no such thing as society", that we are alone on our journey through life, solitary atoms of consciousness. Or perhaps it was just because I was a little kid and more interested in them Weetabix skinheads, Roland Rat and Knight Rider. Either way, I'm an adult now and none of those things are on telly any more so there's no excuse for apathy.

When John Lennon was told of Elvis Presley's death, he famously responded: "Elvis died when he joined the army," meaning of course, that his combat clothing and clipped hair signalled the demise of the thrusting, Dionysian revolution of which he was the immaculate emblem.

When I awoke today on LA time my phone was full of impertinent digital eulogies. It'd be disingenuous to omit that there were a fair number of ding-dong-style celebratory messages amidst the pensive reflections on the end of an era. Interestingly, one mate of mine, a proper leftie, in his heyday all Red Wedge and right-on punch-ups, was melancholy. "I thought I'd be overjoyed, but really it's just … another one bites the dust …" This demonstrates, I suppose, that if you opposed Thatcher's ideas it was likely because of their lack of compassion, which is really just a word for love. If love is something you cherish, it is hard to glean much joy from death, even in one's enemies.

Perhaps, though, Thatcher "the monster" didn't die yesterday from a stroke, perhaps that Thatcher died as she sobbed self-pitying tears as she was driven, defeated, from Downing Street, ousted by her own party. By then, 1990, I was 15, adolescent and instinctively anti-establishment enough to regard her disdainfully. I'd unthinkingly imbibed enough doctrine to know that, troubled as I was, there was little point looking elsewhere for support. I was on my own. We are all on our own. Norman Tebbit, one of Thatcher's acolytes and fellow "Munsters evacuee", said when the National Union of Mineworkers eventually succumbed to the military onslaught and starvation over which she presided: "We didn't just break the strike, we broke the spell." The spell he was referring to is the unseen bond that connects us all and prevents us from being subjugated by tyranny. The spell of community.

Those strikes were confusing to me as a child. All of the Tory edicts that bludgeoned our nation, as my generation squirmed through ghoulish puberty, were confusing. When all the public amenities were flogged, the adverts made it seem to my childish eyes fun and positive, jaunty slogans and affable British stereotypes jostling about in villages, selling people companies that they'd already paid for through tax. I just now watched the British Gas one again. It's like a whimsical live-action episode of Postman Pat where his cat is craftily carved up and sold back to him.

"The News" was the pompous conduit through which we suckled at the barren baroness through newscaster wet-nurses, naturally; not direct from the steel teat. Jan Leeming, Sue Lawley, Moira Stuart – delivering doctrine with sterile sexiness, like a butterscotch-scented beige vapour. To use a less bizarre analogy: if Thatcher was the headmistress, they were junior teachers, authoritative but warm enough that you could call them "mum" by accident. You could never call Margaret Mother by mistake. For a national matriarch she is oddly unmaternal. I always felt a bit sorry for her biological children Mark and Carol, wondering from whom they would get their cuddles. "Thatcher as mother" seemed, to my tiddly mind, anathema. How could anyone who was so resolutely Margaret Thatcher be anything else? In the Meryl Streep film, The Iron Lady, it's the scenes of domesticity that appear most absurd. Knocking up a flan for Denis or helping Carol with her algebra or Mark with his gun-running, are jarring distractions from the main narrative; woman as warrior queen.

It always struck me as peculiar, too, when the Spice Girls briefly championed Thatcher as an early example of girl power. I don't see that. She is an anomaly; a product of the freak-onomy of her time. Barack Obama, interestingly, said in his statement that she had "broken the glass ceiling for other women". Only in the sense that all the women beneath her were blinded by falling shards. She is an icon of individualism, not of feminism.

I have few recollections of Thatcher after the slowly chauffeured, weepy Downing Street cortege. I'd become a delinquent, living on heroin and benefit fraud.

There were sporadic resurrections. She would appear in public to drape a hankie over a model BA plane tailfin because she disliked the unpatriotic logo with which they'd replaced the union flag (maybe don't privatise BA then), or to shuffle about some country pile arm in arm with a doddery Pinochet and tell us all what a fine fellow he was. It always irks when rightwing folk demonstrate in a familial or exclusive setting the values that they deny in a broader social context. They're happy to share big windfall bonuses with their cronies, they'll stick up for deposed dictator chums when they're down on their luck, they'll find opportunities in business for people they care about. I hope I'm not being reductive but it seems Thatcher's time in power was solely spent diminishing the resources of those who had least for the advancement of those who had most. I know from my own indulgence in selfish behaviour that it's much easier to get what you want if you remove from consideration the effect your actions will have on others.

Is that what made her so formidable, her ability to ignore the suffering of others? Given the nature of her legacy "survival of the fittest" – a phrase that Darwin himself only used twice in On the Origin of Species, compared to hundreds of references to altruism, love and cooperation, it isn't surprising that there are parties tonight in Liverpool, Glasgow and Brixton – from where are they to have learned compassion and forgiveness?

The blunt, pathetic reality today is that a little old lady has died, who in the winter of her life had to water roses alone under police supervision. If you behave like there's no such thing as society, in the end there isn't. Her death must be sad for the handful of people she was nice to and the rich people who got richer under her stewardship. It isn't sad for anyone else. There are pangs of nostalgia, yes, because for me she's all tied up with Hi-De-Hi and Speak and Spell and Blockbusters and "follow the bear". What is more troubling is my inability to ascertain where my own selfishness ends and her neo-liberal inculcation begins. All of us that grew up under Thatcher were taught that it is good to be selfish, that other people's pain is not your problem, that pain is in fact a weakness and suffering is deserved and shameful. Perhaps there is resentment because the clemency and respect that are being mawkishly displayed now by some and haughtily demanded of the rest of us at the impending, solemn ceremonial funeral, are values that her government and policies sought to annihilate.

I can't articulate with the skill of either of "the Marks" – Steel or Thomas – why Thatcher and Thatcherism were so bad for Britain but I do recall that even to a child her demeanour and every discernible action seemed to be to the detriment of our national spirit and identity. Her refusal to stand against apartheid, her civil war against the unions, her aggression towards our neighbours in Ireland and a taxation system that was devised in the dark ages, the bombing of a retreating ship – it's just not British.

I do not yet know what effect Margaret Thatcher has had on me as an individual or on the character of our country as we continue to evolve. As a child she unnerved me but we are not children now and we are free to choose our own ethical codes and leaders that reflect them.

CharlMascara Wed 10-Apr-13 02:05:13

How is this AIBU?

vivizone Wed 10-Apr-13 02:08:25

AIBU to agree with him wink

TanteRose Wed 10-Apr-13 02:21:19

wow, brilliant writing by Brand!

in a way, I suppose, she was such a megalomaniac, her children probably didn't get much of a look-in...and her husband was an alcoholic so it must not have been easy for them.

but she always said that "family" was important, and of course, they had enough money etc. so I wouldn't feel too sorry for them smile

then again, as adults, the twins do have ishoos...stemming from childhood?

saulaboutme Wed 10-Apr-13 02:26:38

I agree with his feelings and impression she made on him. We're the same she and that's how it felt.
Well put

Springdiva Wed 10-Apr-13 08:31:32

Not a very lovabe person, MT, but no one mentions the days off school due to power cuts being on on a rolling timetable due to the dock strikes stopping coal arriving at power stations, the lack and shortages of certain foods due to same strikes and my DPs asking specifically for polish coal from the coal man because it was better quality and cheaper. So we didn't want british coal (the same as we want cheap goods from the far east today rather than overpriced british made ones). Hence the mines needed to close and the dock strikes had to be broken. Goods were never docked at british docks to the same extent ever again, they moved to Rotterdam, so thanks british strikers. Likewise British cars were poorly made, again due to workers and managers, so fall in industry due to many things as well as MT.

RB was too young to be aware of this, he should have spoken to his DPs first.

Springdiva Wed 10-Apr-13 08:32:25

I feel sorry for her DCs as much as I feel sorry for Prince Charles or anyone whose parent has hugely demanding job.

ubik Wed 10-Apr-13 08:36:16

Still, it's handy if your mum is PM when you get lost in the desert

HollyBerryBush Wed 10-Apr-13 08:37:05

So what he's saying is: working mothers are shite?

meditrina Wed 10-Apr-13 08:37:43


Mothers are meant to be humble home makers! Not work outside the home and have ambition/success!

That's where we're all going wrong.

chibi Wed 10-Apr-13 08:42:11

i look forward to hearing similar articles about male politicians oh that's right, i won't because no ever concern trolls men over their parenting ability or lack if it

whatever you think of Thatcher, her mothering abilities (apart from being private and thus wholly unfathomable) are easily the least interesting or important thing about her as a figure in british politics

bite me, russel brand, you tinpot greasebag misogynist, you

crypes Wed 10-Apr-13 08:48:18

Yea I agree with a lot of his article. I was a teenager when maggie came to power . I never thought of her as a feminist but probably like he said as a individual, a headmistress figure and a capitalist .when she was in power everyone was going to pay. Everyone still wants to make money out of the working classes.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

OnwardBound Wed 10-Apr-13 08:51:55

Wow, I sort of enjoyed reading this article and thought RB had some interesting and well thought out points to make.

But by golly, I felt exhausted by the conclusion.

RB really enjoys the sound of his own voice doesn't he. Why put something simply and concisely when you can make a florid simile or analogy...

Anyway, back to MT... I'll leave that to more politically minded posters to debate smile

FreudiansSlipper Wed 10-Apr-13 08:53:35

It is not an attack on working mothers, take in all that he has written, she lacked empathy he growing up as I did a thatchers child regognised this and felt sorry for her children and for us all who grew up watching her destroy so many people

melika Wed 10-Apr-13 08:53:42

Can't believe he actually wrote that.

chibi Wed 10-Apr-13 08:54:46

let's analyse her dresses or her hair next too late people already do

boy her reign as 3x prime minister must have been rilly dull and uneventful given that what she was like as a mum, or her dress sense is so much more fascinating


hackmum Wed 10-Apr-13 08:55:17

Some really odd responses here. The line about her mothering abilities - which is simply making the point that she wasn't a very warm person - is only a tiny part of the article. Most of the rest is taken up with the damage she did to the country. I thought it was very well-written and makes some excellent points. Never been a fan of Russell Brand, but this hits the mark.

One more thing, though, OP - couldn't you have just linked to the article? Copying and pasting the whole thing is a copyright infringement.

HollyBerryBush Wed 10-Apr-13 08:57:14

She wasn't a feminist - she didn't agree with all that malarkey at all. Equality is very different from feminism.

In 1979, for those around who do remember, we were a bankrupt country. She doggedly hounded the IMF to get our money back we'd been paying out to what was then the Common Market. Took her 5 years, but she got it back in 1984.

I suppose we'll never know, because life is full of what ifs. But I wonder what would have happened to Britain had she not been elected. I can't think of anyone else who would have stepped up to the plate and had the sheer tenacity that she had to turn the country round. Since her, all our Mps have been bland and mediocre, PMs much the same.

Nancy66 Wed 10-Apr-13 08:57:24

He wouldn't have written it. It would have been ghosted

And hackmum is right - you should not reproduce the entire article, it's illegal.

ClaireDeTamble Wed 10-Apr-13 09:13:42

It's a good article although he is right, he's not as good as Mark Thomas wink

I think the point about the parties etc only taking place because of the sort of society she created is a good one, but that may be because I made the same point to DH last night.

Prior to Thatcher, the lack of respect and compassion for her family that is currently being demonstrated would be unheard of. I guess it just proves you reap what you sow!

Branleuse Wed 10-Apr-13 09:16:03

Brilliant article

Panzee Wed 10-Apr-13 09:19:49

I read this last night, I'd forgotten his writing is all style over substance. It doesn't say much really.

ClaireDeTamble Wed 10-Apr-13 09:20:03

Oh and she made being a mum part of her persona, so I think it is fair to comment on it.

There was an interesting interview with her on the BBC doc the other night, just after she'd been elected as an MP (one of only 25 women in parliament at the time). Carol and Mark were both there and the interviewer asked about her ambition to join the cabinet.

She declared that she would be waiting until the kids were older as she had enough on her plate raising them and being a back bench mp.

If she had never mentioned her kids in relation to her career it would be wrong to comment, but she did, so it isn't IMO.

Dawndonna Wed 10-Apr-13 09:24:23

He wouldn't have written it. It would have been ghosted
He is a fairly articulate soul with a documented passion for philosophy, I think you are being judgemental and rude.

As for cries of mysogeny etc. I honestly don't think that's the case. I think it's a well thought out, well written piece. He is stating what he felt as a fifteen year old and what he feels now. You have to, unfortunately take Thatcher in isolation.

Crunchymunchyhoneycakes Wed 10-Apr-13 09:25:24

I read this earlier, I thought it was pretty good in a slightly rambly kind of way(I believe he wrote it, he's a bright man). I understood the feeling sorry for her children thing to be his perception of her as a child - he saw her as a strict headmistress type rather than a warm mummy sort. It's interesting that then (and now probably) a woman has to act less warm or she will be considered 'too soft' or 'feminine' to be taken seriously. A female prime minister who brought a 'maternal' warmth and empathy(traditionally considered feminine qualities although not exclusive to women by any means) to leadership would be real progress I think.

noddyholder Wed 10-Apr-13 09:27:40

I love Russell

limitedperiodonly Wed 10-Apr-13 09:29:46

Was there a point in there somewhere? I'm afraid I nodded off way before the end.

Nancy66 Wed 10-Apr-13 09:30:21

Dawndonna - yes, but he isn't a journalist and he has a ghost writer.
I'm not being judgemental and rude. I'm being knowledgeable and realistic.

hackmum Wed 10-Apr-13 09:31:08

I doubt it was ghosted. It's quite usual for politicians to have their pieces ghostwritten but not, surely, comedians, who are used to writing their own material. A ghosted piece would have been blander and lacking in that distinctive voice.

Snazzynewyear Wed 10-Apr-13 09:31:52

I find him irritating in person but his articles for the Guardian are very good. He also wrote something good after Amy Winehouse's death. I assume they have changed the sub (or ghostwriter, if you're nancy66) who edits his work since then as his use of commas was awful in the Winehouse piece (which was otherwise great) but is fine here. <grammar pedant moment>

threepiecesuite Wed 10-Apr-13 09:34:21

I really enjoy his writing and agreed with many of his points of view. I was a Thatcher child too and a boring (in both senses) headmistress is exactly what she was to me.

Nancy66 Wed 10-Apr-13 09:35:58

hackmum - that's not true. Celebrities are ghosted all the time for newspapers.

willyoulistentome Wed 10-Apr-13 09:39:25

I do feel a bit sorry for them in that their very public Mum was so very publically hated by so many. That must have been hurtful.

awaynboilyurheid Wed 10-Apr-13 09:45:15

wish mumsnet had a like button sometimes, this is very good, spot on, especially the link with no such thing as society, which is essentially other peoples pain is not your problem, pain weakness and weakness is deserved, pretty much sums up all Thatcher dogma right there. Yet we expect society to pay for the funeral, wonder if anyone will be able amongst all the glowing speeches at the funeral to have a say for lives ruined by short sighted politics and yes many are old men and ladies of today certainly not seeing out their days at the Ritz but freezing to death of cold and poverty due to Thatchers legacy.

MrsClown1 Wed 10-Apr-13 09:50:02

Dawndonna - articulate soul! I wonder if Andrew Sachs would consider him an articulate soul! IMHO Russell Brand is a cocky twat along with Jonathan Ross.

chibi Wed 10-Apr-13 09:51:34

he also made a prank call to rape crisis

what a winner

JamNan Wed 10-Apr-13 09:57:48

I can't abide Brand but this is an eloquent piece of writing.

OP may I point out that it is frowned upon to copy and paste a complete article from another publication. It is a also a breach of copyright. By all means give the link and paste the first paragraph. Please consider asking MNHQ to edit you post.

adeucalione Wed 10-Apr-13 10:01:10

The 'there's no such thing as society' quote is always taken out of context - her point was that there's no such thing as entitlement, unless someone has first met an obligation.

ChocsAwayInMyGob Wed 10-Apr-13 10:01:14

He wouldn't have written it. It would have been ghosted

No. I saw Russell Brand live, doing a two hour stand up show and he was outstandingly articulate, intelligent and compassionate.

If you'd just seen him on Big Brother's Big Mouth or just heard about the Andrew Sachs scandal, it might be easy for someone to assume that he cannot write as beautifully as this article suggests. But he has enormous intelligence and many aspects of his act were unrehearsed and spontaneous i.e hecklers, and making up commentary on that day's local newspaper.

I also do not think his article is anything to do with the SAHM-vs-WOHM debate. He is saying that MT's coldness made him wonder what warmth her children might receive at home, if any.

Dawndonna Wed 10-Apr-13 10:16:52

MrsClown1 You can still be rude whilst being articulate, take a look at this place! By soul, all I meant was a person.

WhoPaintedTheLion Wed 10-Apr-13 10:20:48

I do not see this as an attack on working mothers at all, but rather just a memory of a baffled kid imagining having Margaret Thatcher as your mother. It is quite weird to think about that. Being sent to your room by Margaret Thatcher. Having Margaret Thatcher make your rice crispies for you. Turning up to parents evening with Margaret Thatcher. Having Margaret Thatcher reading Peter Rabbit stories to you. I cannot really imagine anyone calling her mum, she was such an iconic figure.

It's such a tiny part of the article though.

OhLori Wed 10-Apr-13 10:25:40

I thought it was a rather patronising and insensitive comment of Brand.

As for the article, badly written too.

vladthedisorganised Wed 10-Apr-13 10:53:38

Lovely article.

KarmaBitch Wed 10-Apr-13 10:58:08

I read an article on Carol Thatcher many years back. It was just after I'm a celebrity... She mentioned that she often was left to her own devices as a child because MT was always so busy.

thebody Wed 10-Apr-13 11:01:39

Yet someone else who doesn't really have a clue about the state if the country in 1979?

I remember and totally agree with Holly. The country was quite frankly ungovernable, even my left of left wing patents acknowledge that.

Russell isn't a parent or a woman but a drug abusing nasty piece of work ( according to Katy perry)

He should shut up about things he knows nothing about.

How date he critisise any woman's patenting ability.

Jesus shall we all go back to the 1950s and stay at home?

ChocsAwayInMyGob Wed 10-Apr-13 11:03:42

OhLori- you think the article was badly written? I thought it was superbly articulate and head and shoulders above so much of the shoddy journalism and bile inducing commentary that we see today.

If you think this is badly written, then your standards must be unattainable.

MrsClown1 Wed 10-Apr-13 11:03:43

It just seems to me that someone can do something absolutely disgusting (Sachs/Rape Crisis) and because people have incredibly short memories, it is all forgotten about - hence the shit society we live in. I saw Andrew Sachs being interviewed about it and the aftermath and he said though he received an apology he said they could not be that sorry as they continue to do the same kind of disgusting things.

By the way, the article is shit and sounds like it was written in 1950!

ChocsAwayInMyGob Wed 10-Apr-13 11:07:16

*Russell isn't a parent or a woman but a drug abusing nasty piece of work ( according to Katy perry)

He should shut up about things he knows nothing about.

How date he critisise any woman's patenting ability.

Jesus shall we all go back to the 1950s and stay at home?*

He is a recovered drug addict, who works bloody hard at his recovery and has been clean for about 8 years. Katy Perry has never called him nasty in public, so unless you know her personally, this is conjecture. RB was not criticising MT's parenting skills, but WhoPaintedTheLion's post above explains it perfectly.

Again, RB is not doing the old SAHM-vs-WOHM argument. He is simply saying that MT did not strike him as maternal, more of a bossy figurehead and it was hard to imagine her being warm and chuckly at home.

bakingaddict Wed 10-Apr-13 11:10:56

I obviously have no idea what MT was like as a mother but I find it somewhat saddening that even now people cannot seperate successful woman from their working roles and the logic is if you have a high powered job you are a cold distant figure in the home.

Maybe, maybe she could put her 'Maggie Thatcher' persona back in the box and reverted to just being mum in the house, a lot like what the thousands of other high powered working mums must do across the country.

ConferencePear Wed 10-Apr-13 11:11:37

This is a well written piece of crap.
It is deeply misogynistic . No-one would write about the fathering skills of a male prime minister. Shame on you Russell Brand.

thebody Wed 10-Apr-13 11:14:27

The article is rubbish, he is vile as you may remember Andrew Sachs rigmarole.

Katy had described her marriage to him as very unhappy.

How can it strike him that someone he has never met as not maternal and how in earth is that any if his business anyway?

He was a baby in 1979? He had no idea what he is talking about.

Seriously do you as a woman think its ok for a man to ever question the maternal ability of someone he doesn't even know.

According to people who do know her she adored her children but obviously as a prime minister she wasn't always there at bath and bed time like many many men. Are they bad dads?

HoHoHoNoYouDont Wed 10-Apr-13 11:19:48

Second what Conference and * thebody* say. Sick and tired of people questioning women in this way. They rarely do it to a man.

Dahlen Wed 10-Apr-13 11:38:11

I'll ignore the fact that his comments on her mothering abilities occupied only a couple of sentences in the entire article, and answer the question.

I neither agree nor disagree with him. I was not privy to MT's home-life so couldn't possibly comment. While I didn't like her political persona much, I'd say it's rather lacking in insight to view people in such a one-dimensional manner. People adapt to the situation they are in and react accordingly. Being at home with your DC is an entirely different situation to answering questions in a cabinet meeting or giving a press interview.

That said, happy, well-adjusted people tend to be 'authentic' in the sense that their behavioural patterns tend to be similar regardless of their environment, so I can understand where Brand is coming from. However, politics (and any other public role), is different, and that has to be understood. As a celebrity who cultivates a brash, womanising, lowest-common-denominator image yet also wants to be taken seriously writing political articles in the Guardian, Brand should know that.

purits Wed 10-Apr-13 11:43:49

Two thoughts:

a) what has her parenting got to do with the price of fish? No-one ever says this about a man.

b) RB has portrayed her as a cold person, without humanity. Remind me again which one, RB or MT, managed to stay happily married til death us do part? MT may not have been fluffy about hypotheticals but she gave and got love in her personal life.

I heard a piece on the radio yesterday about "there is no such thing as society". What she meant was that there is no building with a reception desk where you can march up and demand to see the Managing Director of Society. It doesn't exist; all there is is human beings. She thought that when we see life as a collection of humans and neighbours then 'putting in' or 'taking out' felt much more personal. It is a different mentality when you think 'I am getting assistance because Mr Brown at No6 is paying his tax' instead of 'I demand my rights from the Government'. This is where we are at the moment with loads of pressure groups trying to convince us that their needs are greater than someone else's, without thinking where the money comes from. Society thinks in terms of rights. MT thought in terms of rights and obligations.

Mrneedy Wed 10-Apr-13 11:49:11

I think if you just take that line out of context, it's a bit harsh, but he is commenting on his opinion of MT, that she didn't seem like a mum, because she was distinctly Margaret Thatcher

You could never call Margaret Mother by mistake. For a national matriarch she is oddly unmaternal. I always felt a bit sorry for her biological children Mark and Carol, wondering from whom they would get their cuddles.

GoGlenCoco Wed 10-Apr-13 11:49:38

He wouldn't have written it. It would have been ghosted

He is a fairly articulate soul with a documented passion for philosophy, I think you are being judgemental and rude

Exactly - judgemental and rude.

I hate it when people state things as if they were facts. Ignorant really.

Mrneedy Wed 10-Apr-13 11:50:15

Sorry, posted too soon "How could anyone who was so resolutely Margaret Thatcher be anything else?"

I was very impressed with this article, and I think he speaks for a lot of people who don't really know how to feel about MT

ConferencePear Wed 10-Apr-13 11:51:57

"judgemental and rude. "
This describes Brand very well. How dare he ?

Gerrof Wed 10-Apr-13 11:55:28

I really don't think he is as clever as he thinks he is. He is rather fond of the overblown phrase isn't he.

I agree with some of the broad sentiments (I am pretty much the same age and Thatcher was just there all through my childhood) but I do think it is rather ironic saying that Thatcher was not a feminist figure whilst he makes broadly anti-feminist statements a few paragraphs earlier.

For all of Thatcher's legion faults I can't imagine that she was a worse parent than other obsessive politicians. Gordon Brown (for example) was never exactly a warm personality, I cannot remember ever seeing an article pitying his two children.

GoGlenCoco Wed 10-Apr-13 12:03:46

Russell Brand can be quite rude I guess.

But judgemental? How so ConferencePear?

OhLori Wed 10-Apr-13 12:12:41

Chocsaway, I'll repeat again I think it was a lazy, poorly written article. and, FYI, I'm entitled to my opinion. You know nothing about what I consider good writing, so your arrogance here is breathtaking, or is it plain stupidity?

purits Wed 10-Apr-13 12:14:06

All in all, it's a weird concept.
I grew up under Wilson, Heath, Callaghan. It never occurred to me to think of them in paternal terms so why does RB want to think of MT in maternal terms? Does anyone think of HMQ as 'mum'? Weird.

Later in the article, he slips back into eighties-mode when men had SM thoughts about the 'strict nanny'. Bleurgh.

WhoPaintedTheLion Wed 10-Apr-13 12:20:56

I can quite imagine Gordon Brown as a father. Or Blair. Or any female politicians as a mother, or any successful business men or women. Or even the Queen. But Thatcher was different. She was so Thatcher. She seemed beyond normal human connections to me as a child. She was the bogey man, and the spider-in-the-web, and the reason for all wrongness, and the embodiment of fear and distrust. She was the hard as nails, no chink in her armour, flawless enemy. The Terminator. That's how she seemed to me as a child. No prizes for guessing the kind of household I grew up in. I know better now as an adult. My mind is much broader, my understanding of politics more complete. But I absolutely understand the feeling that her children must have lived in a love-lack home. She was so removed from humanity by the press, by popular opinion, by her own actions too, to the extent that normal acts of humanity such as going to a supermarket and chatting with the voters about the price of fish seemed a grotesque parody.

I do not believe her to have been lacking in warmth and emotion for her family, not at all. Not now. But at the time, through a child's eyes, she seemed a kind of monster.

ChocsAwayInMyGob Wed 10-Apr-13 12:22:24

It's not stupidity Lori. I have a degree in English. I consider it a superbly written article.

You may disagree with the content, but I find it incredible that anyone could say it was badly written.

It's not arrogance either, as there are accepted levels of excellence in writing and I think this piece meets those standards.

ChocsAwayInMyGob Wed 10-Apr-13 12:25:42

WhoPainted- exactly. She was a cold iconic figure, a legendary "baddie" in the eyes of a child at the time. I believe that is Brand's point, rather than being a misogynistic article.

I was 9 when she came to power and a graduate when she left. It was easy for me to imagine that even when buying a packet of Polos she would sound like she was lecturing the shopkeeper.

chibi Wed 10-Apr-13 12:27:42

if the writer keeps pausing to exclaim'look mama, i'm writing!' then it fails to meet standards of good writing

but then i might just be saying that because i feel sorry for any children he may have someday

ChocsAwayInMyGob Wed 10-Apr-13 12:28:34

Gerroff- I remember reading an interview with Gordon Brown. He was saying that the grave of his daughter Jennifer Jane, was a place he often visited. He and Sarah had chosen the location specifically as one of reflection and he said he went there often to think of her, and gain sustenance. It was very moving and reminded me of his human side.

purits Wed 10-Apr-13 12:30:50

I've just realised that 'there is no such thing as society' is actually the same sentiment, but by no means as well expressed, as 'ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country'.

theodorakisses Wed 10-Apr-13 12:33:19

Russel doesn't have ghost writers, he actually thinks and talks like he writes.

Gerrof Wed 10-Apr-13 12:45:55

Chocsaway - just to clarify I don't think for a minute that GB is a cold father (probably the opposite), just that he had a rather brusque and cold image but as far as I know he never recieved any commentary from someone feeling sorry for his children.

Softlysoftly Wed 10-Apr-13 12:49:38

He lost me at "Barren Baroness" hmm

PostmanPatricia Wed 10-Apr-13 12:59:37

Empty drug-addled waffle.

flippinada Wed 10-Apr-13 13:02:50

Agree with MrsClown, people have very short memories where RB is concerned. He's reasonably intelligent and quite good looking so all the awful things he's done can be forgotten?

I look forward to similarly self-regarding articles about howBlair, Brown and Cameron must be awful fathers.

I think it's a tremendously well-written article, and I don't have much love for RB or his 'work.' It's a comment piece, not meant to be objective, and I think it's fair enough for him to reflect on feeling sorry for her children as, when she was in power, he was a child and her children were therefore an easier point of identification for her than she was.

My DM despised Thatcher (her father was a miner) and is unflinching in her lack of sympathy for her. I hate what Thatcher stood for, and the pain her policies brought to my mother's family's life, but I can maybe step back a bit more than my DM can and say, yes, I do feel shit for her children. Not least because of the amount of hatred they would have been aware of their mother receiving. My DM couldn't watch Carol Thatcher on I'm a Celebrity. Anything Thatcher-related brings back horrendous anger and sadness. I would hate to be viewed that way by anyone because of my mother's politics.

CambridgeBlue Wed 10-Apr-13 13:27:31

I read this after Caitlin Moran linked to it on Twitter and was surprised that it was written by him. To me it comes across as having been written by someone who wants to show how clever he is (lots of big words and dramatic comparisons) rather than someone who genuinely writes well.

That aside, a lot of the content struck a chord with me. I must be a similar age to RB and MT was a constant figure in the background of my childhood - like Princess Diana or Mr T smile. I don't agree with everything he says - as other people have pointed out, would half of this be written about a male public figure? - but the piece made for interesting reading compared to a lot of the claptrap that's been published this week.

WhizzforAtomms Wed 10-Apr-13 13:29:32

It is a good article - thank you for posting it.

I didn't read it on the Guardian when I saw it the other day as the title annoyed me - sexist focus.

Thinking about it though, I'm sure the editors pulled that headline out of the article, which has a much broader subject.

Gerrof Wed 10-Apr-13 13:34:56

"To me it comes across as having been written by someone who wants to show how clever he is (lots of big words and dramatic comparisons) rather than someone who genuinely writes well."

Yes, that.

ChocsAwayInMyGob Wed 10-Apr-13 14:17:32

Empty drug-addled waffle.

RB hasn't taken drugs or ingested alcohol for about 7 years. he does a lot of work behind the scenes for rehab centres and drug rehab charities.

Say what you like about his writing or his views, but you cannot say he wrote this whilst "drug addled".

I really hate it when people who have had the guts and strength to change their lives round are still labelled as being on drugs.

limitedperiodonly Wed 10-Apr-13 14:21:44

It was waffle though, wasn't it chocs? Somehow it makes it worse that he was stone cold sober when he wrote it.

ComposHat Wed 10-Apr-13 14:32:08

It makes some salient points, but it is a bit sixth form in its composition.

I would join with Russell Brand in wondering what kind of parent someone that dogmatic and inflexible would make. I think I'd think the same about a male public figure.

YouTheCat Wed 10-Apr-13 14:35:00

I think it reads like he talks tbh.

An interesting take on things.

ChocsAwayInMyGob Wed 10-Apr-13 14:41:50

Somehow it makes it worse that he was stone cold sober when he wrote it.
- this made me laugh. I disagree with you, but you made your point in a very witty way! smile

Dragonwoman Wed 10-Apr-13 15:00:02

Actually I doubt MT did spend much time with her children while she was PM. In 1979 when she became PM her twins were 26!
Yes she was a working politician when they were young, but presumably didn't have to work the crazy hours she did later as PM. (But no, she doesn't seem like someone's mum).

EssexGurl Wed 10-Apr-13 15:08:48

There was an article in The Timestoday about this. Apparently Carol told her that she was a great leader but a rubbish mother (not exact quote but general gist). So I think RB is spot on if her kids said it too.

Lottapianos Wed 10-Apr-13 15:21:34

'To me it comes across as having been written by someone who wants to show how clever he is (lots of big words and dramatic comparisons) rather than someone who genuinely writes well'

Very well put CambridgeBlue. I thought a lot of it was misogynistic drivel but that's no real surprise from Russell Brand. Some of it was well-written but it was mostly self-consciously wacky and kooky and far too try-hard. Much like a lot of Caitlin Moran's writing actually - interesting that she linked to it on Twitter!

I am absolutely no fan of Thatcher and almost felt sick watching footage of the Falklands war and the miners' strike on the TV the other night but she didn't have get crucified for stuff that people would have tolerated much more easily had she been a man. Like her parenting skills in this article hmm I don't think I have ever heard any whining or hand-wringing about the relationship between a man's job and his parenting skills ever. Not ever.

limitedperiodonly Thu 11-Apr-13 08:43:43

Thanks chocs I really don't like Russell Brand for lots of different reasons but I have to say that when he appeared before MPs talking about drugs he knew what he was talking about.

But his appearance let him down because he just can't let his image go and I think that damaged the message.

I'm not saying he should have worn a suit but less Jesus As A Rock God would have been good grin

boxershorts Fri 12-Apr-13 11:15:50

Feel sorry for the children. Good point. I know some broadcasters and I do feel sorry for their children

boxershorts Fri 12-Apr-13 11:16:23

They are mainly women. Guess if you want

Trills Fri 12-Apr-13 11:19:16

YABBU to post this in AIBU.

YABU to copy and paste the entire article.

I personally prefer this line: If love is something you cherish, it is hard to glean much joy from death, even in one's enemies.

theodorakisses Fri 12-Apr-13 19:04:08

In real life he really is a good guy. Just because he is famous should not allow such judgements. I have known him for years and he isn't really any different to any other normal person. he think deeply about things and is happy to have people disagree with his views but would be very hurt to be referred to as "drug addled" after what he has been through.

pansyflimflam Fri 12-Apr-13 19:27:38

It is not ghost written and it is splendidly waffley and wordy and just perfect coming from him. I do agree with most of what he says actually but it is a comment piece and not objective.

MT was an absolute monster and did a tremendous amount of harm in many ways during her term, the only reason she is getting the big funeral is because she is a woman. Put that in your feminist pipe and smoke it!

RB is a good bloke in RL, he is passionate about a lot of issues and does get off his arse and say and do things about it. I admire that in someone who could just fuck his way through LA and ignore the noise in his head.

Grinkly Fri 12-Apr-13 19:32:04


lollilou Sat 13-Apr-13 10:20:12

One question, would you have wanted MT as your Mother?

ChocsAwayInMyGob Sun 14-Apr-13 10:19:23

lolli- No.

Highlander Sun 14-Apr-13 10:32:55

Would that comment have been made if Thatcher was a man?


lazy, mysoginistic journalism. RB can definitely do better.

pansyflimflam Sun 14-Apr-13 19:28:34

Would that comment have been made if Thatcher were a man? No

Would Thatcher be having what is essentially a State funeral if she were a man? No

marjproops Sun 14-Apr-13 19:32:21

I feel sorry for RBs parents grin

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