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Thursday 11 April 2013

Letts Put The Boot In

When Dan Hodges asserted in his Telegraph blog that “If Labour can't show restraint today, it will say more about them than it does about Margaret Thatcher”, he may not have been considering that the bringer of least restraint would be his Mum. But, as I noted on Monday, Mrs T was a divisive figure, and did not endear herself to everyone. Glenda Jackson made the Commons aware of that.

Harry Potter and the Gobshite of Arslikhan

She reminded the cat-calling and clearly upset Tories present that there were many losers from the Thatcher years: Mrs T is not being so fondly remembered in Sheffield, Liverpool or Glasgow, or indeed in parts of London. And Glenda Jackson, remember, hails from Merseyside, the daughter of a bricklayer whose first job was at Boots the Chemist. One paper, though, did not approve of her dissent.

To no surprise at all, that paper was the Daily Mail, where the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre instructed his attack doggies to pass the most severely adverse comment on Ms Jackson. Her speech was characterised asbitter” and “astonishing”. The debate had been “blown apart”. And, worst of all, her words had then been endorsed by “Shagger” Prescott.

But this was a mere prelude to a typically nasty hatchet job performed by the odious Quentin Letts (let’s not). Quent executes his own inimitable brand of hypocrisy with consummate ease, insisting on talking of “Miss Jackson” and then calling her out for sexism. He then sneeringly calls his target “fag-ash Glenda” and asserts that she is “potty”. The remainder of the character assassination does not rise above this level.

What Letts does not tell his readers is that Mrs T left the Commons when a whole decade younger than Ms Jackson is now. This has something to do with Glenda Jackson having progressed from that job at Boots to cram two careers into her life. Her acting did not merely extend to regular appearances on the Morecambe and Wise show. She is a double Oscar winner, too.

Never mind, though, Quent has an agenda to adhere to: “Miss Jackson’s constituency? Hampstead, where single houses can cost as much as whole postal districts of normal parts of the kingdom” he declares. Spot the selective edit? The constituency is Hampstead and Kilburn. Quent removed the part of the name that didn’t fit his line of attack. But it’s a bit obvious.

And what he can’t bring himself to tell is that Ms Jackson’s popularity still extends well beyond her constituency, and indeed well beyond politics. Letts just demeans himself by churning out a formulaic hatchet job, no doubt to Dacre’s order, and most probably assembled from filtered memory, rather than his bothering to take notes. He won’t be making a dent in her reputation any time soon.

Somewhere a ghostly figure is observing “What do you think of it so far? Ruggish!

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