The Crown – Liberalism and Conservatism Defined

I don’t think I’ve seen a better short definition of Liberalism and Conservatism than in the episode of The Crown, Fagan (Season 4, Episode 5). This is the one where this everyguy, Michael Fagan, sneaks into Buckingham Palace not once but twice, and has a short audience with the Queen before he is arrested.

I finally found a site that offers the closed captioning text, which is as close to the actual script as I’ll get. Here are the relevant passages (bolding is mine):

Queen and Fagan

Fagan: I’ve tried everything else. Writing letters, speaking to my MP. Fat lot of good any of that did. Mirage of democracy. So I’ve come to you, the head of state. You’re my last resort. Someone who can actually do something.

Queen: What is it you’d like me to do?

Fagan: Save us all from her.

Queen:  Who?

Fagan: Thatcher. She’s destroying the country. We’ve got more than three million unemployed. More than at any time since the Great Depression. Doesn’t that bother you?

Queen: Yes, it bothers me greatly. But there’s nothing I can do about it. When you’ve been in my position as long as I have, you see how quickly and how often a nation’s fortunes can change. Joblessness, recession, crises, war. All these things have a way of correcting themselves. Countries bounce back. People do. Because they simply have to.

Fagan: That’s what I thought. That I’d bounce back. And then I didn’t. First the work dried up, then my confidence dried up. Then… the love in my wife’s eyes dried up. And then you begin to wonder, you know, where’s it gone? Not just your confidence or your happiness, but your… They say that I have mental health problems now. I don’t. I’m just poor.

Queen: The state can help with all of this.

Fagan: What state? The state has gone. She’s dismantled it, along with the other things we thought we could depend on growing up. A sense of community, a sense of, you know, obligation to one another. A sense of kindness. It’s all disappearing.

Queen: I think you’re exaggerating. People still show kindness to one another, and they still pay their taxes to the state.

Fagan: And she spends that money on an unnecessary war and declares the feel-good factor is back again. In the meantime, all the things that really make us feel good, the right to work, the right to be ill… the right to be old, the right to be frail, be human, mmm, gone. You may think you’re off the hook, but she’s got her eye on your job, too. You’ll be out of work soon.

Queen: Let me assure you, Mrs. Thatcher is an all-too-committed monarchist.

Fagan:  She has an appetite for power which is presidential, and in this country, a president and a head of state cannot coexist. Mark my words, she’s put us out of work. She’s quietly putting you out of work.

Queen and Thatcher

Thatcher:  On behalf of the government and the Metropolitan Police, I am so sorry. It is a national embarrassment that the Queen of the United Kingdom should be subjected to troublemakers and malcontents who feel at liberty to resort to violence.

Queen: Oh, but he wasn’t violent. In fact, the only person Mr. Fagan hurt in the course of his break-in was himself. And while he may be a troubled soul, I don’t think he’s entirely to blame for his troubles, being a victim of unemployment, which is now more than twice what it was when you came into office just three years ago.

Thatcher: If unemployment is temporarily high, ma’am, then it is a necessary side effect of the medicine we are administering to the British economy.

Queen: Shouldn’t we be careful that this medicine, like some dreadful chemotherapy, doesn’t kill the very patient it is intended to heal? If people like Mr. Fagan are struggling, do we not have a collective duty to help them? What of our moral economy?

Thatcher: If we are to turn this country around, we really must abandon outdated and misguided notions of collective duty. There are individual men and women, and there are families. Self-interested people who are trying to better themselves. That is the engine that fires a nation. My father didn’t have the state to rely on should his business fail. It was the risk of ruin and his duty to his family that drove him to succeed.

Queen: Perhaps not everyone is as remarkable as your father.

Thatcher:  Oh, you see, that is where you and I differ. I say they have it within them to be.

Queen: Even someone like Mr. Fagan?

Thatcher: Mr. Fagan is another matter. Two different doctors have reached the conclusion he is suffering from a schizophrenic illness. If he is spared criminal prosecution on account of his condition, then a nice, secure mental hospital will ensure he will not be a danger any longer. Now, if you will excuse me, I really must go.