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Watch John Cleese Lie About Lady Thatcher

If you are like most people you probably went out of your way to miss Frank Luntz’s “focus group” on Fox News after the Democrat debate last night.

If so you also missed a low point in the career of “raconteur” John Cleese, who in his effort to pimp for Mr. Obama blatantly misrepresented Lady Thatcher’s political career.

The fun begins around 2:30 minutes into the YouTube clip:

Focus Group: Obama Wins Another Debate

John Cleese: I wanted to ask… Margaret Thatcher was a pretty effective and powerful leader.

How many years do you think she had in British government at the top level before she became our leader? And what positions do you think she held?

… Do you know what position in the cabinet she held for those three years? She was Minister of Education.

That is to say, Mr. Cleese claimed Margaret Thatcher had only three years of government experience before becoming Prime Minister, and that she was merely the Minister of Education at that.

We have to go no further than Wikipedia to find that he is wrong on both points:

Margaret Thatcher

Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher, LG, OM, PC, FRS (née Roberts; born 13 October 1925) is a former British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990 and leader of the Conservative Party from 1975 until 1990. She is the first and only woman to hold either post.

Born in Grantham in Lincolnshire, England, and went on to read Chemistry at Somerville College, Oxford. She was selected as Conservative candidate for Finchley in 1958 and took her seat in the House of Commons the following year.

Upon the election of Edward Heath in 1970, Thatcher was appointed Secretary of State for Education and Science.

In 1974, she backed Sir Keith Joseph for the Conservative party leader, but after falling short he dropped out of the race. Thatcher entered herself and became leader of the Conservative party in 1975. Among other things, she defiantly opposed the Soviet Union, and her tough-talking rhetoric gained her the nickname the “Iron Lady”. As the Conservative party maintained leads in most polls, Thatcher went on to become Britain’s Prime Minister in the 1979 General Election.

So instead of a mere three years in government as Mr. Cleese claimed, Lady Thatcher was actually in government as a member of Parliament for 20 years prior to being elected Prime Minister.

Additionally, she was Secretary of State for Education and Science for nine years before being selected as PM.

Moreover, Mrs. Thatcher was the (first female) head of the Conservative Party for four years before becoming Prime Minister. A position that entails a great deal more in the UK than it does in the US.

It is quite disappointing to see Mr. Cleese misrepresenting such basic facts in order to promote a candidate. (And even mentioning Lady Thatcher in a laudatory way was quite hypocritical, given that he has made a career of denigrating her politics.)

It makes one wonder if he might not have misrepresented the quest for the Holy Grail as well.

This article was posted by Steve on Friday, February 1st, 2008. Comments are currently closed.

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