Wed, Apr 10, 2013 - Page 7 News List

Thatcher’s death sparks mixed reactions

AFP, LONDON

A man rejoices as he attends a gathering of people celebrating the death of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher in Glasgow, Scotland, on Monday.

Photo: Reuters

Flags were lowered to half-mast at Britain’s parliament to mark the passing of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher on Monday, and flowers piled up at her London home — but at the other end of the political spectrum, left-wingers joyfully threw parties to celebrate her death.

On the streets of London’s financial district — whose power was fueled by Thatcher’s deregulation of the financial sector — many passers-by reacted with sadness to the passing of the Conservative former premier.

“It’s a shame, a crying shame. She’s a good woman,” said Alan Whiteford, a law firm employee.

“It’s a sad day,” banker Nick Daking added.

At Thatcher’s former home in central London, a pile of flowers was growing on the doorstep.

“The greatest British leader and a true lady,” one card read. “You make Britain what it is.”

However, in the edgy south London neighborhood of Brixton, sworn enemies of the former Iron Lady held a street party to celebrate her death.

Holding placards saying: “Rejoice — Thatcher is dead,” about 200 people gathered in the neighborhood and toasted her passing by drinking and dancing to hip-hop and reggae songs blaring from sound systems.

“I’m very, very pleased. She did so much damage to this country,” said one man brandishing an original newspaper billboard from 1990 announcing Thatcher’s resignation.

Others scrawled “Good Riddance” on the pavement.

“We’ve got the bunting out at home,” said Clare Truscott, a woman in her 50s wearing a sparkly beret and holding a homemade sign reading: “Ding dong, the witch is dead.”

“I’m from the north, where there were no jobs, where the industry was rapidly disappearing, and her policies ensured it went more quickly,” Truscot said.

Brixton was the scene of fierce riots in 1981, two years after Thatcher became prime minister.

Meanwhile, in Scotland’s biggest city, Glasgow, more than 300 people gathered to hold their own party.

Anti-capitalist campaigners shouted: “Maggie, Maggie, Maggie,” while the crowd replied: “Dead, dead, dead.”

Coal miners were among Thatcher’s bitterest foes during her 1979-1990 premiership — and for one senior mining official marking his birthday on Monday, her death was the icing on the cake.

“I’m having a drink to it right now,” National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) northeast England regional secretary David Hopper said with unabashed glee.

“It’s a marvelous day. I’m absolutely delighted. It’s my 70th birthday today and it’s one of the best I’ve had in my life,” he said.

Others on the left also hailed Thatcher’s departure as a cause for celebration.

“We’ll be glad to see the back of her,” said Judith Orr, editor of the far-left Socialist Worker weekly newspaper.

“She ruined the lives of tens of millions of working class people in Britain and she rejoiced in war. That was one of her most disgusting moments, but there is a long list of crimes,” she added.

Rights activist Peter Tatchell described the former Iron Lady as “extraordinary, but heartless,” saying she had presided over the decimation of Britain’s manufacturing base and introduced “Britain’s first new anti-gay law in 100 years,” Section 28.

Yet, he conceded that as Britain’s first and still only woman prime minister, she had achieved something significant.

“To her credit, she shattered the sexist glass ceiling in politics and got to the top in a man’s world.”

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