THE ghost of Margaret Thatcher walks, Emma Thompson has a wedge of cake in her mouth, and Prince William thinks we should stay not go.
You just can’t keep Europe off the front pages. Do people care as passionately either way as the newspapers would have us believe? Sometimes I wonder.
Mrs T has been resurrected lately by opposing members of her tribe. They haven’t dug the old horror up or anything, but they have brought her into the argument over Europe.
This reminds me a little of a weird musical disinterment, such as when Natalie Cole performed Unforgettable in concert with a hologram of her dead father, Nat King Cole. These exercises always seem creepy to me, but that one won’t be repeated as, sadly, Natalie Cole died on New Year’s Eve.
Unforgettable – that’s what you are, Mrs Thatcher. If you rattle my head she’s still in there somewhere; the trick is not to rattle my head.
Many Tories have stronger reasons for wishing to resuscitate their old heroine, and they tug her ghost this way and that to their own ends.
This all started after Thatcher’s close adviser Charles Powell told the Sunday Times she would have supported David Cameron’s proposed new deal with Brussels – “she would have gone along with what is on offer, indeed negotiated something similar herself”.
Her biographer, Charles Moore, chipped into to say Thatcher eventually believed we should leave the EU – but did not say so for fear of being driven “to the fringes of public life”. This caused John Redwood to express his disappointment that Lord Powell should “presume to be able to communicate with the dead and tell us what they were thinking”.
In stepped Eurosceptic veteran tub-thumper Bill Cash, waving a personal letter Thatcher had written to him in 1993, in which she said she would not have agreed to the Maastricht Treaty. Apparently, Thatcher asked for Cash to only reveal the letter if there were doubts about whether she would have signed up for what he called the “European project”.
I expect we shall hear more of this as Mrs Thatcher is turned out of her grave to support one side or the other as the Europe referendum looms. As for David Cameron, I sometimes wonder if he wakes at night to see the ghost of Mrs Thatcher rattling her chains at him and mouthing cruel taunts. I do hope so.
Emma Thompson’s offence, apart from being a “luvvie” in the eyes of the Daily Mail, was to express her support for Europe during a speech at the Berlin Film Festival. She described living in “a tiny little cloud-bolted, rainy corner of sort-of Europe… a cake-filled misery-laden grey old island”.
Asked how she would vote in the referendum, she said: “I feel European even though I live in Great Britain, and in Scotland as well. So of course I’m going to vote to stay in Europe. Are you kidding? Oh my God, of course. It would be madness not to…”
The Sun went one further than the Mail, using disdainful alliteration to dub Thompson a “leftie luvvie” and putting her on the front page with a wedge of cake in her mouth – under the headline: “SHUT YER CAKEHOLE.”
I rather like Emma’s ironically playful description of Britain, especially “cloud-bolted”; but playful irony doesn’t translate in Sun-speak, where only thuggish outrage will do.
As for Prince William, he gave a speech to the Foreign Office’s Diplomatic Academy and – sorry, having trouble staying awake here – said that Britain was an “outward looking nation” whose “ability to unite in common action with other nations is essential”.
Hardly words to set the world on fire – yet assorted poor reporters had to comb through William’s deadly dull speech in search of proof that it was a coded ‘yes’ to Europe.
A reminder, if any were needed, of how often what you read in the newspapers can sometimes be wilful misinterpretation as much as anything else.