Thursday, February 05, 2009


Bring Back Thatcher!

I never thought I'd say it, but a Thatcher has been treated too harshly for offences committed. Opinions will vary over the comparison of a tennis player's hair to a 'golliwog'- personally I don't think it rates anywhere near the top of the list- but the remark was said in private and not on air.

The younger female Thatcher, it has always seemed to me, does not suffer from the faults of her mother or her brother-overbearing hubris and disregard for those worse off than them to the fore - and her performance in that jungle programme proves she is basically a pretty good mixer of equable temperament. I'm less impressed by what I've seen of her television reporting which I've tended to think a bit too tabloid and her interviewing style as a tad patronising. But I put the latter down to the fact she reminds me so much of her mother and the prejudice I still cannot expunge.

Her agent has claimed she is the victim of a personal campaign and what evidence there is seems to support this view: someone or some collection of someones was out to get her. When Jonathan Ross is only suspended for a mega lack of professionalism and cosmic bad taste, it seems quixotic and vindictive to punish a middle-aged woman with few chances of future employment for an offence so minor that many would not even consider it to be an offence. Daily Mail rants about 'political correctness gone mad' are justified in this case: she should be reinstated.

Bill, I must confess my first reaction was the same as yours. But I heard the controller of Radio 1 on the television this morning, and I agree with her, context is important.

This remark was not made 'in private'. It was in the 'One Show' green room, with 14 other people present. She didn't, as Iain Dale and some media have reported, 'compare a tennis player's hair (ludicrously reported by Dale as being Andy Murray) with that of a gollywog. She referred to a black French tennis player as 'looking like a gollywog'. This apparently caused great offence to the people present, and when it became known, to members of the production crew.

Thatcher was asked to apologise unconditionally for her remarks. Unlike Jonathon Ross - whose offence I agree with you was at least equally as bad if not worse - she flatly refused to do so. Ross was prepared to admit his foolish error - Thatcher refused to do so and tried to say it was 'a joke'.

She hasn't (again, as misreported) been 'fired from the BBC'. She has been fired from the One Show because the other presenters and crew had expressed a lack of support for her - presumably what we would call a vote of no confidence. She is, however, perfectly free to continue working elsewhere on the BBC and the various other media outlets she is forever cropping up on, presumably.

Ron Atkinson not only apologised for his racist remarks, he accepted they were inappropriate and wrong, and apologised... and he was still sacked. Thatcher's pig-headed refusal to acknowledge she was wrong (obviously a family trait) was her downfall.
Yes, the truth is certainly more nuanced than I first thought and agree she shouild have apologised- her family tait probably explained why she did not. She might yet though as the issue is still 'in play'.
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