Ding Dong! The vulgarity of Thatcher’s opponents

wicked witchby Stuart Flegg

Reactions to Thatcher’s death have more to say about society today than that of the late eighties.

On Sunday 14th, the BBC’s Radio 1 chart programme excluded one top ten track from the usual countdown. As a result of a campaign started in 2007 by critics and opponents of Baroness Thatcher, the track “Ding Dong! (The Witch is Dead)” from the 1938 film The Wizard of Oz rose to second in the singles chart.

Sales of the track surged since the death of the former Prime Minister on Monday. The BBC made this move over concerns playing the track would be disrespectful and in poor taste.

The Notsensibles’s tongue-in-cheek protest song “I’m in love with Margret Thatcher” came in at number 35.

Anyone on Twitter or Facebook can’t have failed to notice the great number of impassioned opinions being shared by users. We live in an age where individuals can immediately react and respond to news and content as it happens. An apparent side effect of this is that everyone feels that they must have and opinion and must share this opinion under the misguided idea that anyone else actually cares (my comment-writing self included).

I’m not going to give you my opinion of Thatcherism. As a twenty-year-old, I don’t really have one. Perhaps you can figure out why. Unfortunately not everyone online shares my discretion. If we replace the word ‘Thatcher’ with ‘Thatching’ the illogical thought process becomes clear: “I don’t like thatching. My parents lived under thatching and didn’t like it. Therefore I have decided I do not like thatching either”

It’s ridiculous, nobody would choose roofing materials based on somebody else’s opinion. Take their advice perhaps, but it’s not enough on it’s own to have me actually prefer slate or defect to one of the minor parties and install terracotta tiles. If I do so, it will be my decision.

Some threw street parties to mark the occasion and news of her death was cheered by some delegates at the NUS conference in Sheffield. Not only is this very rude and disrespectful to the conference setting, but I also have a sneaking feeling that this was a unilateral decision by the individuals responsible.

I am however, willing to stand corrected if it turns out all delegates took a straw poll prior to the conference dictating their behaviour in such an eventuality. An elected delegate should never just assume what to do; after all, some students are actually Tories.

Is it in poor taste? Yes. The fact that some people think it appropriate to cheer the death of an 87 year-old woman reveals something rather worrying about our society.

The opponents and critics of Thatcher are absolutely entitled to cheer the ending of her power. But unlike the situation in Munchkinland, (where the significance of the Witch’s death was her inability to do any more witching) Thatcher had already been removed from power. She had been since 1990.

If you wanted to cheer her downfall, you are 23 years too late. And if you weren’t alive then, should you be cheering at all? Thatcher was already out of power; I fail to see how her death could in any way be preferable to that to even the most hard-core critic. Having said that, I’m a bit of a wuss about the whole death thing. I don’t consider the death penalty any better at keeping any individual criminal off the street than life imprisonment would.

Nobody get angry, it’s a metaphor. But it is the fact I can make it which concerns me. The decision for Radio 1 not to play the full track may be wrong in terms of music buyers’ rights. Those who bought the track have been deprived of hearing it on the radio but given that one of the advantages of buying a track is being able to listen to it anyway, I’m not sure that is a valid argument. Station controller, Ben Cooper has made the correct decision in terms of taste, respect and our values towards life.

Those pushing sales of this track are doing so in incredibly poor taste, at least that much is true outside of political thought.

6 thoughts on “Ding Dong! The vulgarity of Thatcher’s opponents

  • The writer fails to engage with the true debates to be had surrounding her death. Firstly, the buying of the Wizard of Oz song was many things: tasteless, vulgar, immature – but does that mean it should be banned? Do we really think that censorship is preferable over the possibility of causing offence? The writer talks of “buyer’s rights” – it is a far more extensive concept than this; it is freedom of speech. The right to freedom of expression is one that should only be limited in extreme circumstances, and “being offended” is not one of them. As Stephen Fry famously once said: “ It’s no more than a whine. It has no meaning, it has no purpose, it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. ‘I’m offended by that’ – well, so f***ing what?!’ ” Thatcher was famous for her love of debate, and for being a protector of freedoms, and she would have hated the fact that her passing was being used to oppress her own people’s
    rights.

    Secondly, the writer seems to project his own ignorance of the Thatcher governments and policies onto the rest of the population. Just because one did not live at the time, does not mean that one is incapable of reading a book on the matter. Even for a middle class student, we might find empathising on the issues difficult, but we most certainly can sympathise once we discover the darker aspects to her politics. If one reads about Section 28, or her attitudes to Nelson Mandela (terrorist), or General Pinochet (friend), or the Poll Tax, and develops a view about what one reads, surely that is a justified opinion? To denounce this as invalid simply because you did not directly experience her government displays a failure to engage in academic discussion.

    The writer is also shortsighted when it comes to the issue of her “being out of power” and therefore not being relevant to the modern day. Of course she has been out for over 20 years, but that is not the point. She may not be a politician any more, but her policies continue to directly affect those she imposed them upon – even those born since 1990. When she shut down the steel factories and the coal mines in the manner that she did (it needed to happen, but not in the way it occurred), she desecrated whole communities, and the damage this caused continues to be felt. She ruined thousands of lives; areas of County Durham and Merseyside now have some of the lowest literacy rates in Europe, and many live in deep relative poverty. To deny the cathartic effect of her death to these people (horrible as that is) would be to do them a great disservice. It is not the literal death of an old woman that is being truly celebrated: it is the beginning of the death of her legacy, and no-one can blame them for that.

    Reply
    • This is not a political article. There is a difference between forming a considered and researched academic opinion (as you have) and having an emotional reaction. I only mean to highlight how tasteless the latter can be and that (as having any emotional viewpoint is mostly an immediate reaction to a personal experience) I find it hard to believe how many of my peers have somehow managed it.

      Reply
  • Do you also not have an opinion on any other historical figures? It would indeed be a sad day for history if “I wasn’t alive then” actually meant “I am not allowed to have an opinion”

    Reply
    • As the other reply says, It’s a different sort of opinion.

      Reply
  • poor taste yes or no… you need to remember how deep thatcher hurt people… in this region moreso than many. I too at first felt that it was a little wicked, she was human after all. Then i saw a slogan ‘Margret Thatcher Milk Snatcher’ You need to realise life is not equal.. opportunity is not equal, people are born into poverty and are held in this place ALL of their lives no matter HOW HARD they work. This is how governments run things. Yes… an exceptionally talented gifted or fortunate individual may escape… but MOST of us remain within the financial constraints that we were born into. I briefly remembered, fondly, and distantly, the MILK TIME shout at infant school. Milk time was a treat that all children got and possibly benefited us all. Many kids are and were sent out without breakfast for reasons of poverty or neglect, there was and is an imbalance and ‘milk time’ gave us all something to unite in, along with a shot of calcium and other vitamins. Margret Thatcher destroyed this and put MILLIONS of already low earning people into absolute poverty. One man i spoke to who attended a ‘party’ said ”She RUINED my life, i had a wife and kids and mortgage… i lost everything… i had to watch my kids digging turnips out of a field so we could make a broth” His scars were obvious. Whole towns and villages were ripped apart and still to this day suffer, they are full of empty shops and pubs, full of people with no hope, many ensnared by drugs like tobacco and alcohol prescription drugs and other things.
    When you are born into money… if something bad happens you just step up, shake off the dust, find something new you enjoy, retrain if necessary find a family friend thats good fun re-strategize, move on. This is the mentality i have noticed in particular with many Durham students. Its not a bad one to have.. if you are that way connected! If you have no such connections, and like myself are not especially gifted in any way.. your stuffed and there is no where to turn to all we can do is plod on. Before you judge those that CELEBRATE the death of Thatcher.. remember they are wanting to CELEBRATE the death of Evil. The decisions she made had evil consequences on many. Sadly that evil lives on in todays society in todays politicians and hides itself in different ways in all of us.

    Reply
  • I’m not going to give you my opinion of Thatcherism. As a twenty-year-old, I don’t really have one. Perhaps you can figure out why. > Ha right, so because you weren’t alive when something was happening, no point having an opinion on it then? Ok. May as well stop teaching kids about WW2 then? Because how dare they let that form their present attitude towards global politics? THEY WEREN’T THERE!!!! I suggest you do your research about the woman herself, and maybe then you can develop an informed opinion. She was seriously lacking in taste, respect for other people and their values towards life. You wouldn’t know that, though. I bought that track and I revel in how ‘poor taste’ people like you think it is.

    Reply

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