2021-09-24 20:49:27 Profile: Playwright Takes On Margaret Thatcher and Brexit
Profile: Playwright Takes On Margaret Thatcher and Brexit
Those expecting a character assassination of Mrs. Thatcher will be disappointed; the work is more detached than its playwright’s politics would suggest. Though he is an unapologetic Remainer, it is the Euroskeptic Mrs. Thatcher who emerges as not only the dominant but also, perhaps surprisingly, the nicer figure.
Mr. McManus stated that he wished to alleviate some of the polarization caused by Brexit.
But it’s possible that he’s just naturally generous; he also has nice things to say about the current prime minister, albeit in a backhanded way. Mr. Johnson has a “remarkable skill set,” he says, adding, “you’ve got to admire his techniques; I work in theater now, so I have an eye for techniques and winning over an audience.”
Mr. McManus puts a similar positive spin on Mr. Heath, waxing lyrical about his fondness for his former boss until reminded of his own words in the play’s program notes.
According to the playwright, Mr. Heath was “chilly and imperious, solipsistic and unappreciative,” a man who nursed grudges and outmoded ideas, and not someone he ever liked.
“Umm, yes, a little waspish by my usual standards,” Mr. McManus admitted, sipping his beer and laughing, “it’s a little difficult to come back from that.”
Mr. Heath was charming in his pursuit of Mr. McManus’s job as political secretary, but the frost set in once he accepted. After Mr. McManus announced his intention to run for Parliament in the following year’s general election, he was promptly and summarily fired by Mr. Heath. “He decided to get rid of me while I was on vacation,” he explained.
Mr. McManus lost that election and was never chosen as a candidate again, which is the first step in running for office in the British system. But other opportunities beckoned, and he went on to work as a consultant, a journalist, and the director of a media watchdog. He also wrote several books, one of which was about Mr. Heath. Another, “Tory Pride and Prejudice,” documented a shift in the Conservative Party’s stance on gay rights.