For those who would dance upon Margaret Thatcher's grave, a celebration
Anti Margaret Thatcher graffiti adorns a wall on the Falls Road in west Belfast, Northern Ireland on April 9. In pockets across the United Kingdom on Monday night, people celebrated Margaret Thatcher's death.(AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
For some, it was like old times.
In pockets across the United Kingdom on Monday night, people took to the streets, clashing with baton wielding police, hurling bottles and cans, smashing the occasional window and denouncing Margaret Thatcher.
But amid those denunciations – there was a macabre delight.
Even as her body was being carried from London’s Ritz Hotel, where she had been staying since December from a stroke, the first of an estimated 500 raucous revellers were gathering in south London to celebrate her death.
There, some chanted “The wicked witch is dead!” Others – less given to metaphor – carried a banner that read simply, “The B**** is Dead.”
A crew of young men scaled the massive marquee above the Ritzy cinema and reconfigured the lettering announcing the main feature to read, instead, “MARGARET THATCHER DEAD!!”
The Baroness was, as many historic figures are, a polarizing figure.
The Daily Mirror’s front page carried a photo of a stern looking Baroness Thatcher with the headline, “The woman who divided a nation.”
But never mind, Conservative MP Conor Burns told the Daily Telegraph.
The Baroness would have seen the denunciations as a “remarkable tribute” to her achievements.
Thatcher had once told him that, “the fact that they (her opponents) felt so strongly about her more than 20 years after she had left 10 Downing Street was a tribute to the fact she had done something in politics, rather than simply been someone.”
What “she had done,” was remembered fondly, or vehemently, depending on one’s political stripe.
In Brixton and Bristol, in Glasgow and Leeds, in Londonderry and in the Falls Rd. area of Belfast, hundreds brazenly cheered the Iron Lady’s death.
In Leeds they handed out “Thatcher’s dead cake.”
In Glasgow they uncorked champagne.
Among revellers there, was Martin Chomsky, lead singer of Chomsky Allstars.
“I was never brought up to celebrate anyone’s death, but the pain she brought to Latin America, Europe and around the world should be remembered,” he told the Guardian newspaper.
Online, the Red Pepper website website posted “Five Songs to Play at Thatcher’s Funeral,” which included Elvis Costello’s memorable lines about the Prime Minister, “…when they finally put you in the ground, I’ll stand on your grave and tramp the dirt down.”
Morrissey, former front man for The Smiths, took to the Daily Beast Tuesday, writing a vitriolic obituary about Thatcher, about whom he once wrote “Margaret on the Guillotine.”
The more reverent will honour Baroness Thatcher on Saturday, in what is being trumpeted as a ‘near-State’ funeral, with full military honours.
She will be remembered.
Bill Schiller has held bureau postings for the Star in Johannesburg, Berlin, London and Beijing. He is a NNA and Amnesty International Award winner, and a Harvard Nieman Fellow from the class of '06. Follow him on Twitter @wschiller