Pride, the new film about the Miners’ Strike, looks set to be the next Full Monty. An excellent cast – Dominic West, Bill Nighy and Imelda Staunton among them – tell the extraordinary story of the lesbian and gay activists who supported Welsh miners during the strike.
The clash of the two worlds – traditional, working-class Wales and metropolitan, gay progressives – makes for fertile drama and comedy, and I look forward to seeing it.
But, still, it made me think, why are conservatives never the heroes of the big screen? You could never imagine ‘Maggie – the Movie’ as anything other than a hatchet job. And yet she was a hero to many – including myself. I can imagine the trailer now, delivered in traditional, grumbling, trailer style: “In a world dominated by an elite group of men, she fought an epic struggle to the top – to cure a basket case of a country, to create a million home-owners, to win a war over tyranny and to topple the Russian bear. She was just a little girl from a humble town and yet she was to change Britain – for ever.”
Thatcher ticked a lot of Hollywood hero boxes. She was an underdog; she had a semi-rags-to-riches story; she had lots of setbacks on the road to triumph; hated by some, she was loved by more.
And yet that film – or any other fact-based film with a conservative hero – will never be made. Just to think up the titles – ‘The Laffer Curve’; ‘Milton Friedman – I Love You’; ‘Small State’ – is to see them curl up and die at a Hollywood pitch.
The reason for the non-existence of the Hollywood conservative hero (as opposed to conservative actors such as Ronald Reagan and Charlton Heston) is the pragmatism of conservatism.
Conservative catchphrases are well-worn: “The facts of life are conservative”; “A conservative is a liberal who has been mugged by reality”. They are still true. But they are also pragmatic and sensible – and those aren’t qualities that make a Hollywood producer sign cheques.