Russell Brand: Margaret Thatcher was “an icon of individualism”

The comedian and actor accuses the late former Prime Minister of teaching a generation of people that "it's good to be selfish"

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Russell Brand has weighed in to the debate about Margaret Thatcher’s legacy with a thoughtful (and lengthy) newspaper article, in which he described the recently-deceased former Prime Minister as “an icon of individualism,” rather than feminism.

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Writing in The Guardian, Brand said that he couldn’t understand why Thatcher had been held up by the likes of the Spice Girls as “an early example of Girl Power” and described the late former PM as “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’,” wrote Brand. “Only in the sense that all the women beneath her were blinded by falling shards. She is an icon of individualism, not of feminism.”

And this individualism, Brand said, had also warped the morality of an entire generation of people who grew up while Thatcher served as Prime Minister. 

“All of us that grew up under Thatcher were taught that it is good to be selfish,” wrote the comedian. “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.”

But despite his criticisms of Thatcher, Brand said that he would refrain from celebrating her death, comparing the “headmistress of the country” he remembers from his youth with the frail old woman he once observed quietly watering plants towards the end of her life.

“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,” wrote Brand.

“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.”

He concluded by saying: “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.

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“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.”