'Real Iron Ladies' stage protest against Thatcher film

Protest outside cinema in Chesterfield The protest coincided with the first showing of the film in Chesterfield

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A group of retired coal workers from Derbyshire have held a protest against a new film's portrayal of Margaret Thatcher.

Veteran members of the TUC's Women's Action Group have described The Iron Lady, starring Meryl Streep, as a "Hollywood rewriting of history".

A banner was unveiled outside a cinema in Chesterfield commemorating the "Real Iron Ladies".

At least 30 former coalfield workers attended the protest.

It was scheduled to coincide with Cineworld's first screening of the movie.

'Mixed reviews'

Toni Bennett, an organiser with the Bolsover Women's Action Group during the 1984/5 miners' strike, said the film gave a false impression of Thatcher's contribution to feminism.

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

"Anyone watching this film needs to be able to distinguish facts from fiction."

Dennis Skinner on the Iron Lady

The film's director Phyllida Lloyd has said it is partly based on the memoirs of Thatcher's daughter Carol and her book, A Swim-On Part in the Goldfish Bowl.

Meryl Streep has been tipped for an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of a frail elderly Thatcher reflecting on her years in politics.

However the film, by screenwriter Abi Morgan, has had mixed reviews from UK critics.

Dennis Skinner, Labour MP for Bolsover, appears in the film as an extra.

While critical of Thatcher's legacy, he said Meryl Streep had made a "first-class fist" of the role.

The TUC said it would be organising a future meeting in Chesterfield for the "Real Iron Ladies" to share their experiences with younger union members.

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