In the Critics this week

Douglas Hurd on Margaret Thatcher, Mark Greif on Thomas Frank and Roger Scruton interviewed.

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In the Critics section of this week's New Statesman, former Conservative Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd writes about Phyllida Lloyd's Margaret Thatcher biopic The Iron Lady. While admiring Meryl Streep's portrayal of Britain's only female prime minister, Hurd finds the film a "ghoulish spectacle". Moreover, it "leaves out much that is crucial to any understanding" of Thatcher's premiership, he argues - not least the Westland affair in 1986, which "exposed the weakness of her style of government". Thatcher, Hurd writes, "had a small group of individuals who shared her underlying views about such matters as the money supply, the nature of poverty in Britain, the evil of communism and the dangerous characteristics of the German people ... I was never a member of this group, never 'one of us' ..." PLUS: Jonathan Derbyshire talks to the author of the film's screenplay Abi Morgan, who sees it as "a study of power. It is also a portrayal of dementia. I think it's about the loneliness of power."

In Books, n+1 founding editor Mark Greif reviews Pity the Billionaire by Thomas Frank. Greif argues that Frank fails to make the case that the US Tea Party movement articulates the genuine grievances of ordinary Americans: "What matters about the Tea Party is not that it represents the grief of ordinary Americans at vanished savings, lost jobs and underwater mortgages. On the contrary, it has articulated the fears of a small propertied class, past the age of educating children or raising families, which worries that it will have to pay a price for the rest of society, and which nurtures a pre-existing rage at immigrants and a liberal black president."

In the Books interview, Jonathan Derbyshire talks to conservative philosopher Roger Scruton about his new book Green Philosophy. "I am hostile to the idea that collective solutions [to environmental problems] have to be made by committees and then imposed top-down," Scruton says. But he denies that he is more exercised by untrammelled state power than he is by the environmental effects of big business. "I'm pretty severe on supermarkets, after all, which are one of the big environmental catastrophes."

Also under review: Nick Seddon on Nigel Crisp's 24 Hours to Save the NHS; George Eaton on John Bright: Statesman, Orator, Agitator by Bill Cash; and Olivia Laing reviews Tessa Hadley's short story collection Married Love.

PLUS: "Years of This, Now", a new short story by Jon McGregor; Rachel Cooke on the Morse prequel; Leo Hollis in defence of suburbia; and "The Third Life", a poem by John Burnside, winner of the 2011 Forward Prize for poetry.