Sunday 21 April 2019

Everyone cheered when she quit

I SPENT most of the 1990s working for the BBC in London and I remember hearing Margaret Thatcher was to stand down as I was travelling on a tube outside Ealing in 1990.

I wasn't listening to a Walkman though. The announcement came over the tannoy and the carriage cheered.

"It must have been like this when Oliver Cromwell died," one fellow traveller remarked.

In my decade in the UK I never met one British person who liked or admitted voting for Thatcher. But you have to hand it to her, she was a huge force, and not just in politics.

She revolutionised pop music, giving protest singers and others something to sing about.


There were tunes galore – from The Beat's Stand Down Margaret, Morrissey's Margaret On The Guillotine, to Elvis Costello's Tramp The Dirt Down, with the chilling verse, "I'd like to live/long enough to savour/That's when they finally put you in the ground/I'll stand on your grave and tramp the dirt down."

Can you name one song written about Thatcher's successor John Major?

Given this notoriety, I wasn't surprised then to hear that within hours of Thatcher's death being announced yesterday, a campaign had been launched to take Judy Garland song Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead to No 1.

Billy Bragg can thank Thatcher for his big break and most of his career, including his Labour supporting collective Red Wedge, which numbered some of the biggest stars of the day, including The Style Council and Communards.

As for Ireland, it was Bono who recounted last year, in conversations he'd had with the late Garret FitzGerald, that Thatcher "really didn't think that much of the Irish".


The U2 singer said: "I think that's true, coming from where she came from, from Lincolnshire, Irish people were on the lowest rung."

However this Irishman is willing to forgive the shopkeeper's daughter. Thank you for the tunes, Margaret.


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