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I was born in 1979, just a couple of months after Margaret Thatcher won her first general election, and I remember clearly the moment when the news came through to the school playground that she had stepped down as prime minister. Most of all I still remember the shock. I had rather assumed that, like the monarch, Mrs Thatcher would have the job of prime minister for life because she was the only person who could do it. As I have watched her successors come and go I think my childhood intuition was correct. It is self-evidently ludicrous to place Major or Callaghan — let alone Cameron — in her class.

But I am bemused by those vociferous critics who, unimportant though they otherwise are, cannot possibly remember her prime ministership, let alone specific policy decisions. Several currently being given airspace were either not alive or not conscious while she was in office. Which is just one of the reasons why their outrage is so phoney.

One of the best things anybody has said since Mrs Thatcher's death came from her friend Conor Burns MP who, asked about such critics by a BBC which was obsessed by that aspect of the story, replied, "They hate her because she won." A wonderful response, but I would add the caveat that the battle she engaged in is never won or lost, but always being won or lost. At the moment it is undeniably being lost.


The only time I visited a Mormon temple the people couldn't have been nicer. Passing by one morning with time to spare after a more than usually bonkers morning in LA, I went in and asked to be shown around. Not being a Mormon, I wasn't allowed into the actual church, but some nice girls gave me a very thorough tour of their multimedia visitor centre. Perhaps misinterpreting my interest, they eventually showed me to a room screening a video presented by their current living prophet. I will admit to gasping a couple of times and certainly felt glad the lights were dimmed when at one point I lost myself to agonising laughter. But I came away feeling that although odd, the Mormon faith probably did little harm.

I reflected on this again at one of the opening nights of The Book of Mormon in London. Unlike the musical's US audiences, few here could ever have met a Mormon or heard much about them. Despite the show's virtues, the sense that we were laughing at a badly wounded kitten soon became overwhelming. I had similar feelings after seeing Rowan Atkinson recently lampoon the new Archbishop of Canterbury for Comic Relief. How many in Red Nose Day's predominantly young audience now have any idea what an Anglican is or a Canterbury might be?

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Tom Weller
May 30th, 2013
11:05 AM
Though I agree more satire about the prophet Muhammad would be extremely welcome. I don't think the subject lends itself to the musical format too well. Indeed music is banned in Islam. Also Trey Parker and Matt Stone grew up around Mormans, living in the state next to the homeland of the faith. So they did what all good comedians have done and wrote about what they know. The two explain their reasoning in choosing The Morman religion over others in many interviews easily found on YouTube. Enjoyed the article on the whole though.

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