Ravishing Maggie: Thatcherism thirty years on'

New Formations - ISSN 0950-2378
Volume 2010 Number 70

Ravishing Maggie: Thatcherism thirty years on'
Jackie Stacey pages -


Marcus Harvey’s portrait Maggie was the centrepiece of his White Riot exhibition in 2009, the thirtieth anniversary of Margaret Thatcher’s first election victory as Prime Minister and, as it turned out, the beginning of the end of New Labour’s time in office. This article takes Harvey’s compositional strategy of forming Maggie out of thousands of plaster-cast objects as a response to the legacies of the political figure most associated with violating the social fabric of postwar Britain. Involving the spectator in the process of assembling and dissolving Thatcher’s famous resolute certainty, Maggie turns the shattering impact of her policies back on to the status of her image. If the phallic properties of Thatcher’s punishing style of leadership are literalised in Maggie, the pleasurable control of her integrity implicates us all in this encounter. Reflecting upon Thatcher’s promise to unify the nation, repair its wounded pride and restore its lost sense of greatness, the article reads Maggie’s precarious state through New Labour’s modernising national project and places it within wider debates about the current intensification of uncertainty to which we are increasingly subject.

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To cite this article
Jackie Stacey (2010) Ravishing Maggie: Thatcherism thirty years on', New Formations, 2010(70), -

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