A bizarre subplot has been growing alongside the past week’s many tributes, condemnations and memories following the death of the former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. On Sunday Britain’s music charts will come under scrutiny when the weekly rundown is published.
The question many are asking is: how high will “Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead” go? A social media campaign by Thatcher opponents has pushed the song from the 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz”, adopting its title as a slogan and encouraging people to download it to achieve a maximum chart position. The Official Charts Company said it had risen to Number 3 towards the end of the week.
Broadcasters have wrestled over whether to play the song in the circumstances, prompting more debate and controversy over questions of taste and censorship. In what it described as a difficult compromise, the BBC said it would play a five-second clip of the song in a news item during its chart show.
On Saturday several hundred people held a party in London’s Trafalgar Square celebrating the former leader’s death.
The number was fewer than the thousands organisers had predicted. But the passing of the leader who polarised opinion has revived debate on many of the issues that bitterly divided Britain in the 1980’s – from her stance towards Irish Republican hunger strikers to her free-market economic policies.
“When people say like, ‘she saved the country’, she saved the country for people like her. She didn’t save the country for the people who live in Hackney (an East London borough) or any other working class area. They’re the ones who bore the burden of the bills and so on,” said actor Patrick Macrodain at the rally.
Scuffles broke out towards the end and police said nine people were arrested.
Many other people in Britain, including Thatcher opponents, believe the jubilation of some at the former leader’s death is in bad taste and inappropriate.
“I just personally think that she did what she did for our country, whether it be right or wrong. It did help some people and obviously (for) some people, it did affect their lives. So, you know, just let her rest in peace,” was the view of Christine Crossman, a teacher.
Baroness Thatcher’s daughter Carol has made her first public statement since her mother’s death. She thanked people for the many “magnificent tributes” the family had received, and predicted it would be a “tough and tearful week, even for the daughter of the Iron Lady”.
The former leader’s funeral is due to take place in London on Wednesday.