🔥🔥🔥 The Downing Street Years Literary Analysis

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The Downing Street Years Literary Analysis



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Mr Fillon's campaign has been hit by a "fake jobs" scandal, but in a new poll he is favourite while in two other surveys he is joint favourite with Mr Macron. Mr Fillon is accused of paying his British wife and other family members for work they did not do. He insists the jobs they had were "real". Mr Macron is the only candidate to request a meeting with Mrs May, although Downing Street made clear there was a long-standing Government policy not to engage with the far-right National Front party.

A spokesman said the meeting was not unprecedented and added that Tony Blair had met Nicolas Sarkozy at Number 10 when he was running for the presidency in Watch Live. French presidential hopeful Macron wants UK talent to move to France after Brexit Outside No 10, Emmanuel Macron says he has plans to get talented people "in lots of fields" to go to France after Brexit. By Zoe Catchpole, Political Reporter. Fill 2 Copy 11 Created with Sketch. Wednesday 22 February , UK. Why you can trust Sky News. More on Brexit. Street party or "stop all the clocks"? In death, Thatcher will again ask of us Billy Bragg's old 80s question, born of the picket lines: "Which side are you on, boys?

The fact is that these days, like it or not, we have nearly all been co-opted to her side, consumers, not citizens. The revisionism that until recently claimed her reforms as a necessary evil for the booming British economy of the Blair years a revisionism that has always had more substance in the south east than elsewhere has been revised again by the bust, but she remains a dramatic symbol. When Mervyn King at the Bank of England recently informed the prime minister that any more borrowing was inadvisable, he made sure he had a portrait of Thatcher behind him for support.

I'm thinking about some of this as I wander up to No 1 North Parade, where it all began. How did she come to divide us so? One of the answers to this question, to the visceral oppositions she demanded and on which she thrived, seems to have been rooted in what she insisted on calling her "early years of life" never "childhood"; she wouldn't own up to the joy of one of those. Of all the books written about her, by far the oddest and most compulsive is that by Leo Abse, the late Freudian Labour backbencher. Entitled Margaret, Daughter of Beatrice, it ascribes all of Thatcher's fight-picking character to a profoundly damaged psychology in her early years. The prime minister never stopped talking of her admiration and respect for her authoritarian father.

Her mother, Beatrice, however and her elder sister, Muriel were erased from her biography. Her mother gets not a single name-check in the pages of the former prime minister's autobiography. Elsewhere, she once suggested: "I loved my mother dearly but at 15 we had nothing more to say to each other. It was not her fault. She was always weighed down by the home. Always being in the home. That disgust at domesticity no doubt informed both Thatcher's ambitious childhood and her unnerving adulthood. Abse, observing Thatcher daily across the floor of the Commons, developed the theory that all her stentorian behaviour was a result of an infant rejection by her mother and her overwhelming attraction to her father.

He attempted to explain her using the full spectrum of psychoanalysis. Monetarism was an expression of her pathological anal retention the Big Bang of deregulation was symbolic of her secret desire for explosive release. Her hatred of the nanny state was a response to her own absence of the "suckling breast", her extraordinary insistence on self-reliance an expression of her unconscious desire to destroy her guilty sexual feelings for her father. And so on. Could all this have been fostered above a grocer's shop in North Parade, Grantham?

Abse's theory probably said as much about his own need to control and destroy a wildly powerful woman an emotion that Thatcher almost universally excited among her cabinet as anything else. But there was undoubtedly something in those repressed formative years that she later needed to exorcise in the world. The shop above which she lived is a chiropractic clinic and holistic retreat now, its history identified only by a small plaque on the wall above the admonition to "get better, stay well, feel alive"; for all this practised calm it feels heavy with the past. No, the proprietor tells me, wearily, fussing with her appointments book, I can't go upstairs and see Maggie's old bedroom.

It's where they do their aromatherapy and massage. They get TV crews here from time to time, but her answer is always the same. The association is not really one they want to advertise. He is keener to make the connection; he markets his guest house as being adjacent to the first woman prime minister's birthplace. Does it work? He gets a few who are interested. Mostly foreigners. The German visitor thought about this for a moment. After a while he said: "It is always the way with politicians in their own country. In Germany, it was the same with Hitler. Next door but one to the Roberts' old shop is a house that belongs to Fran Scott and her husband, Frank. Fran grew up in this terrace and has recently moved back. She remembers the family well.

As a girl, she would be sent to get sweets in the shop. He was very, very scary to me as a little girl. He would pick who he chose to serve in the shop. He'd stand there in his brown overalls looking you up and down. I'd really hate going in there. He would look over his glasses at you, frighten you to death, very stern. I think he saw himself in Margaret from the start, nurtured that. Fran Scott's father grew up with Margaret, but she was not allowed to play with the neighbours' children.

He would make her walk the long way round to school so she would not have to pass the poorer houses. For 40 years, Fran had a hairdresser's in town and the older ladies would tell her stories of the Roberts family. The rumours were always that the alderman was a bit of a ladies' man. One of her customers who had worked in the grocer's shop as a girl used to say she was hauled out of there one Saturday by her father and told never to go back. When Margaret was 11, a novel appeared in Grantham called Rotten Borough, which satirised the corrupt goings-on at a thinly veiled version of the town hall.

One of the town councillors ran a grocer's shop and was known for his wandering eyes and hands. The book caused a local scandal and was quickly withdrawn after threats of libel, but not before half the town had read it. Who knows what effect such rumours had on an adoring daughter. Later, Roberts was forced from his alderman's bench in a piece of local Labour party politicking that neither he or his daughter ever forgave. After her mother died, we didn't see her here at all. But then he had been a very harsh man. After she left Grantham, Thatcher went back only in her head. In her autobiography, she likened living in the attic flat she created in Downing Street to claustrophobic life over the shop, grabbing her poached egg lunches, up in the rafters, "plenty of cupboards and a box room in which to dump everything".

The father she disowned was reinvented as a visionary. Strange, though, that the policies she pursued, consciously or not, destroyed nearly everything her father held dear: the established order, stability, community. Can you see evidence of that destructive energy from the corner of North Parade? The longer you stand there the more you can convince yourself that you can. There was once a pub over the road and a Catholic church. The pub has gone now though there is another, desperate-looking one a few yards along - the Nobody Inn. The view now takes in a vast Asda and a Lidl. There is not a family-owned shop in sight. In the absence of society, things can fall apart. Along the high street from the Methodist chapel in Grantham, every shop window these days carries a police notice: "Warning, handbag thieves operate in this area.

All deposed prime ministers are fated to contemplate history's verdict long before their death; Thatcher's has been a long limbo. After her abrupt defenestration, she went at first from Downing Street to a Barratt home in a gated community in Dulwich, apparently with dreams of finally creating the domesticity she had so disparaged in her mother and avoided as a parent to her dysfunctional twins, Carol and Mark.

That aspiration did not last long. She quickly tired of Dulwich, not least because it entailed her having to drive through the poorer Brixton to get there. Her fear on leaving office was that she would no longer have a voice in the world and to an extent that proved true. Initially, this was because the country - and her party - had had enough of hearing her. Latterly, it has been due to her health. Her withdrawal from public life on the advice of her doctors has only served to make her more enigmatic. What are the voices in her head now? Gordon Burn, the forensic literary examiner of Fred West and Peter Sutcliffe, detailed in his latest book, Born Yesterday, how he sometimes brushes up against her in Battersea Park.

Thatcher apparently wanders there with her minders among the dog walkers, looking across the river to the Chelsea Hospital. She is, in these private moments, Burn suggests, literally a shadow of her former self: in old ladies' clothes, hair worn close to the head "with little of the volume blown and lacquered into it for her appearances in public". She can still turn the battledress on, as seen at the infirmary opening, but her silence begins to make her seem more benign, neuters her radicalism, starts to seal her in history.

At the Conservative Club in the back streets of Grantham there is a discreet picture of the former prime minister next to one of the Queen. Sitting in front of it, with a lunchtime gin and tonic, is Kathleen Porter, who was a couple of years below Margaret Roberts at the local high school and who went on to become a councillor in the town. She drags her ghost back, a little, from Leo Abse's wilder fantasies. I do remember her debating though, just once.

She had the voice even then. Some of the scholarship girls, of which Margaret was one, had what our headmistress would call backstreet accent, but she never did. She was formed by the war, of course, we all were. Grantham was bombed quite heavily. My mother had been bringing in the washing and a piece of shrapnel had burned a hole in a pillow case. She still calmly collected it all in; that was very Grantham. The town was a base for fighter pilots. There would be a different nationality in all the time: Americans, Danish, Norwegian, free French.

She was never a dancer. Porter believes that after 30 years we are almost back where we began.

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