Margaret Thatcher Death: Munchkin Anger, Policeman Resigns, BBC In Turmoil - An Unpredictable Week

Lavish tributes from Conservative MPs, a ceremonial funeral and bellicose Daily Mail headlines calling out the disrespectful - these were the most predictable of the responses to Margaret Thatcher's death this week.

Margaret Thatcher pictures just after her resignation

Most newspapers had obituaries prepared for the passing of the Iron Lady, who had been in ill health since 2001, suffering from dementia and a series of minor strokes.

Even the funeral plans were prepared in advance. But nothing could have quite prepared the public for some of the more outlandish consequences of Lady Thatcher's death.

Casualties include the career of a Milton Keynes police officer, a champagne offer at a wine merchants and the punk credentials of the Notsensibles, after being endorsed by Louise Mensch.

Perhaps more predictably, relations between the UK and Argentina have soured at the merest mention of Buenos Aires' most hated, and the BBC Director General was forced to confront the sorry fact that when it comes to Thatcher, you cannot please everyone, when everyone includes Paul Dacre, the editor of the Daily Mail.

Here, HuffPost UK takes a look at the week just past, reflecting on those for whom Thatcher's death has cost them their careers, their dignity or their sanity.

So who are the casualties, a week after the death of the Baroness?


Spare a thought for Elvis Costello, Crass or any punk band of the early 1980s.

Imagine travelling back in time, telling the authors of "Tramp The Dirt Down" or "How Does It Feel To Be The Mother Of 1,000 Dead?" that when their nemesis dies in 2013, it will not be their songs that are played as the voice of the resistance to drown out gushing obituaries.

Oh no. Think of their despair when they are told that, despite being the woman who inspired hundreds of anarchist anthems, when it came to marking her death the protest vote went to a catchy ditty from a musical about magic shoes.

Ding Dong The Witch's Dead or 'SHAMEFUL BBC WITCH SONG' as it has been dubbed by the right-wing press, could be number 1 this weekend.Proof, if proof were needed, how few singles need to be sold to make the Top 40 these days, how little imagination the youth of today have, and how hard it is to be the BBC Director General.

The Munchkins are furious. After all, they're the victims in all of this. What are their political sensibilities? How do they feel about the hijacking of their anthem?

The country needed to know and The Sun was there to provide answers. Unwittingly it spawned perhaps the greatest Sun headline since "Freddie Starr Ate My Hamster".

"Munchkin Fury At Maggie Ding Dong Song' screamed the tabloid, quoting 91-year-old Jerry Maren, aka "The Lollipop Kid", as saying: “The Wizard Of Oz is a great family film. It’s a shame that the song is being used it this way.

“Thatcher was a great lady and I’m upset she has passed away. It’s sad that people feel like this."

The theme from the Wizard of Oz has become the symbol of the anti-Thatcher movement


For 1970s punksters The Notsensibles, the featuring of their cult hit "I'm In Love With Margaret Thatcher" in the Thatcher biopic The Iron Lady must have seemed like the peak of their achievements.

It began with a Facebook group called “I’m In Love With Margaret Thatcher for #1”, touting the Burnley band to take the top chart slot.

Members of the left were quick to assert that the song was probably not intended to be a tribute to Maggie. But the Notsensibles weren't going to let that stop their one last gasp for glory, appearing on Sky News, with some members appearing slightly under the weather, to proclaim how happy they were for the song to be the rallying cry of the Thatcherites.

Endorsements rolled in from ex Tory MP Louise Mensch, high-profile Conservatives like Toby Young, and MPs like Michael Fabricant, punk experts one and all, and with their blessing, the song looks set to chart.

But will punk's boys of the North West beat the Wicked Witch of the East?


Sergeant Jeremy Scott, who worked in a back-office role for the Metropolitan Police, fell on his sword this week after he apparently voiced on Twitter that he hoped Lady Thatcher's death was "painful and degrading".

Under the Twitter handle @thinbluespeck, which has since been taken down, Sgt Scott said Lady Thatcher's death was "87 years too late" and added that the world was a "better place".

Before resigning, Sgt Scott reported the matter himself to the Directorate of Professional Standards.


“If for any reason anyone feels like celebrating anything we have Taittinger available at £10 less than usual at £29. Just saying…”

Perhaps the tweet was referring to other significant events of Monday, celebrating the launch of WikiLeaks' newest project or toasting to the nuclear ambitions of Kim Jong un?

A spokesperson for the wine merchant said: “The tweet in question was made by a member of branch staff without the approval or knowledge of the company’s management.

“The tweet was completely inappropriate and in the worst possible taste. We would like to apologise profusely for the offence it has quite rightly caused.

“The member of staff responsible has been suspended with immediate effect pending a disciplinary hearing.”

Tributes in Grantham


Were we expecting Argentina's firebrand President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner to announce: "Lord knows we had our differences, but I respect her courage and her convictions, and the trail she blazed for women everywhere. And her blue power suits were the best."

Perhaps not. No Argentine representative will be at the funeral which has a distinctly Falklands theme.

Foreign Minister Hector Timerman said: "It does not matter to me to be invited to a place where I don't want to go," Reuters reported.

He added: "It is another provocation. The woman died, let the family mourn her in peace".

It was also alleged this week that the former Prime Minister's family had made a special request that no representative of the Argentine government would be invited.

Timerman also dismissed somewhat far-fetched calls for Port Stanley, capital of the Falkland Islands, to be renamed after the Iron Lady.

"I don't care if they want to call it Port Margaret, Margarita or Margarona, neither Argentina or the United Nations recognise it," he reportedly added.


It's been a tough week for the BBC. It provoked fury from the right for focusing on the negative aspects of Thatcher's premiership, and ire from the left for lavish tributes to the former PM.

The BBC received 268 complaints saying coverage biased in favour of Thatcher, and 227 saying it was biased against her.

And a comment from a Daily Mail reader went viral on Twitter, after the paper published its readers' views of the coverage, including one chap's dim view of George Alagaiah's grey suit.

"He looked like a spiv not someone charged with delivering the saddest news some of us have ever received," the furious reader said.

But the worst was yet to come. Rather than targeting say, iTunes or Amazon, it was Aunty who was the target of the right-wing rage over the new popularity of Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead.

Many of the right-wing press, including the Telegraph who had recently published an editorial leader defending "The Right To Offend" demanded the BBC censor the song.

Others like Index on Censorship said the BBC would be unjustified banning the song. And so the corporation, which has not commented on whether it will play a pro-Thatcher song if it charts, has decided to play just five seconds of the song as part of a news package,thus allowing the left to report the BBC has bowed to pressure, and the right to report that the BBC is still disrespecting Thatcher's memory.

Tony Hall, the BBC's Director General, can take heart this week in a well-known journalistic rule - if the left and the right both hate it you've probably got the balance right.

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