Most of the obituaries for Margaret Thatcher will concede that she sharply divided the nation she ruled, but for those who lived in the Great Britain of the 1980s, the hate she inspired among those hit hardest by her policies ran deeper than most can imagine. It's a hate that survived her exile from power, her late decline into dementia, and more than two decades of the passage of time. And it had no problem showing its face Monday as news of her death spread across the word.
Tramp the dirt down.— George Galloway (@georgegalloway) April 8, 2013
Mere minutes after it was announced that Thatcher had passed, George Galloway, a liberal British politician, tweeted that. It's the title of a song that Elvis Costello wrote about the Iron Lady in 1989. This is the full lyric:
"When they finally put you in the ground/I'll stand on your grave and tramp the dirt down"
Not very subtle. Galloway is not just any old liberal. This is a sitting Member of Parliament metaphorically stomping on the grave of an iconic former Prime Minister. Can you imagine a member of the U.S. Congress saying such a thing about an ex-president? For that matter, can you imagine an American pop star writing such a song about any president while they were still in office? Why does Thatcher hate run so strong and why have her enemies found it so hard to forgive?
To liberals like Galloway, she was the worst kind of villain, and those who disliked her the most have not been afraid to celebrate. A former miner who did battle with the Thatcher government said that today was "a great day" and that he's glad he outlived her. Gerry Adams, a former adversary as a leader of the Irish nationalist party Sinn Fein by simply saying, "Margaret Thatcher did great hurt to the Irish and British people during her time as British Prime Minister."
And there were protests turned celebrations:
(Photo by Olivia Harris/Reuters)
(Photo by David Moir/Reuters)
A quick scan on Twitter finds all manner of jokes mocking Thatcher's demise, from variations on her closing furnaces in hell (a reference to privatization fights with the coal and steel industries) to zingers about her wish to be cremated (an outlet for more coal jokes) — or simply Wicked Witch of the West references. Two of the most popular hashtags are #nostatefuneral, a call to deny Thatcher a taxpayer-funded memorial (which she will receive), and #nowthatcherisdead, which was anything but wistful memories of her time on Earth. (Before it was hijacked by confused Cher fans.)