Video: Battle of the Iron Ladies as miners’ wives picket Maggie movie

SINGING, chanting and waving banners, yesterday women of all ages came together outside a cinema to protest against the first screening of the Margaret Thatcher biopic “The Iron Lady.”

The group that gathered outside Cineworld in Chesterfield called themselves “The Real Iron Ladies” and accused the newly-released film, starring Meryl Streep, of rewriting history.

Toni Bennett, who was an organiser with the Bolsover Women’s Action Group during the 1984 miners’ strike, said: “The film suggests that Thatcher stood up bravely against a male establishment and was a women’s champion. Nothing could be further from the truth.

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“Thatcher mobilised every arm of the state against striking miners and coalfield women who were defending their jobs, their children’s futures and their communities.

“The real Iron Ladies are the women of the coalfields who defied Thatcher’s government for a whole year during the strike.”

Many of the women staging their protest outside the cinema yesterday were involved in the miners’ strike more than two decades ago.

Bev Potts, 46, said her husband had been jailed for a number of months during the strike, on trumped-up charges.

“He was a political pawn during the strike, to get him away from the coalfield”, she said.

“We’ve come today to protest against the way Thatcher is being built up and glorified.

“She’s demolished and destroyed so many people’s lives and some of us are still feeling the effects of 1984.

“I’ve seen the trailers, but I’m not going to go and see the film.

“We’re not here to stop people going to see the film either - we just don’t want this woman to be idolised as a woman, because the real women are those women who stood behind the miners, the steel workers and the foundry workers who were losing their jobs.”

Coun Jean Innes, who sits on Chesterfield Borough Council, said she supported her husband and other miners during the strike.

She said: “They were not just trying to save their own jobs, but everybody else’s as well. But what they said came true.

“In the film, Thatcher is made out to be some sort of wonderful woman who helped the women’s cause, but in reality she put it back 100 years.

“We’re still suffering for what she did now, and it shouldn’t be trivialised in a film.

“It was time that we had a woman Prime Minister, but not the one that we got.”

Security guards chose not to remove the women from the cinema grounds due to the “peaceful” nature of their protest.

To cries of “Maggie Maggie Maggie, out out out”, they waved banners for almost two hours - along with a number of men, including local politicians, who turned out to support their cause.

Coun Eion Watts, Leader of Bolsover District Council, was one of those supporting the protest. He said: “This film isn’t about portraying what really happened. She destroyed our communities 28 years ago and we’ve spent the last 28 years trying to rebuild them.

“We’ve got a disaffected youth that have got no prospects, whereas 28 years ago at least they had the prospect of working in manufacturing industry.

“The trailers of the film, which I’ve seen, are not portraying what should be portrayed.”

The Iron Lady has already proved controversial and has been criticised for the way it shows the former British prime minister suffering from dementia.

After seeing the film, the former Conservative foreign secretary Lord Hurd described it as “a ghoulish spectacle.”

Actress Meryl Streep also said the role reduced her to tears and added: “What I found toughest is the contrast between a woman with dementia and this tough female icon of yesteryear.”

• PRIME Minister David Cameron also waded into the row over “The Iron Lady” - but for completely different reasons.

He said the film had been “made too soon” but added that Meryl Streep, who plays Mrs Thatcher, was “fantastic” in the role

Mr Cameron, who said he had already seen the film, added: “You just can’t help wondering, why do we have to have this film right now?

“It’s a film much more about ageing and elements of dementia rather than about an amazing Prime Minister.

“My sense was a great piece of acting, a really staggering piece of acting, but a film I wish they could have made another day.”

Mr Cameron also joked during the Radio 4 interview that he was sure a film about his life would never be made.