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People are not Celebrating Thatcher's Death but Lamenting Her Politics

14/04/2013 00:43 BST | Updated 12/06/2013 10:12 BST

Margaret Thatcher believed in straight-talking and she valued debate as a means of getting to the heart of issues. These are the key qualities that she is noted for, and which enabled her to have such an impact on politics and society - whether she believed the latter existed or not. In honour of Maggie I will attempt to emulate these laudable qualities.

There have been extremely mixed responses to her passing, as you might expect in a diverse country made up of individuals. These have ranged from sugary tributes - often by people who haven't been near her in years - to street parties.

Given that MPs who returned from their break to pay tribute to her in parliament were bribed with £3,750 in expenses, it not surprising so many attended and said nice things. But not all did say nice things and were shouted at by Thatcher's champions of freedom.

The right wing press have had their own Thatcher fiesta, criticising anyone who dared so much as suggest she was anything but a lovely lady, with beautiful hands and lovely ankles, who saved Britain from communism and taught those pesky Argentinians a lesson.

Much has been made of people downloading the Wizard of Oz song Ding Dong the Witch is Dead and turning it into a hit. This created a surreal difficulty for the BBC. When announcing it would play a few seconds of the song, Radio 1 was lambasted by the right, while also being accused of state censorship for not playing it in full. If we follow a core tenet of Thatcherism - that the market knows best - the song should be played all day every day.

What some of the shrill voices on the right fail to recognise is that whenever Ding Dong the Witch is Dead is mentioned - regardless of how serious they feel about the subject and how gravely they express their concerns - generations of people can think of nothing but dancing munchkins. So the more the outraged right talks about it the more our heads are filled with joyous scenes.

The matter of censorship is complicated, however, by the fact that chair of the BBC Trust, Chris Patten, served under Thatcher. Mr Patten was responsible for bringing in the riot-inducing Poll Tax, which ended Thatcher's political career as dramatically as if a house had fallen on her.

In tributes to Thatcher many people have spoken about her huge impact on Britain and her vision. These things are undeniable but many people regard her influence as more damaging and divisive than beneficial.

Some, including myself, would go so far as to say that she showed a marked lack of compassion for communities, was driven by her own prejudices and vindictiveness and pushed a simplistic politics on society.

The exploitative politics inherent in George Osborne's 'workers versus shirkers' discourse is a chilling echo of the simplistic 'us' and 'them' politics of Thatcher. Luckily Osborne is not as sharp as Thatcher and therefore seems an unlikely candidate for Prime Minister.

Given the impact Thatcher had on society, it is ingenuous of the press and politicians to be surprised by public responses to her death. For many, including myself, she will always be seen as a damaged individual whose pathology was allowed to infect an unprepared nation.

With that in mind, it is clear that people are not so much celebrating her death as taking the opportunity to express anger about what she did in her life. By doing so they also give a clear message that they do not want this sort of politics again.

This is the reason why right wing politicians and press are feigning outrage. Parties in the street and number one songs mocking their great leader are getting in the way of them exploiting her death to boost their own polls.