The Five Best Songs Protesting Margaret Thatcher's Policies

Categories: Commentary

Manic_Street_Preachers2.jpg
Manic Street Preachers: Forged in Thatcher's Britain

Update: Judy Garland's "Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead" is forecast to be #1 on the British charts on Sunday, the day the official charts are released. I'm not even shitting you. This means that it will end up being played on Radio 1's Sunday Chart Show. Radio 1 is a Government-owned broadcaster. Can you imagine the clusterwhoops going on in the right-wing media at the moment? It's magnificent. The UK is the only country with a sense of humour dry enough to have something like this happen.

Original post follows...

Undoubtedly the most divisive leader in the recent history of the UK, Margaret Thatcher's death today has been greeted by the same polarized reaction that characterized her time in office. As a Brit who spent eight years living in the area of the UK most destroyed by Thatcherite politics, South Wales, my entire Facebook feed is rejoicing. This reaction might be strange to some, but the after-effects of her policies in the 1980s are still writ large over many, many downtrodden communities.

This is, of course, not a politics blog, but it's worth taking a few moments to highlight the incredible artistic response to Margaret Thatcher's Conservative government in the 1980s. While any right-wing government is always the target of opprobrium from the artistically-inclined left, such a polarizing government created a huge wave of artistic expression and permanently politicized a generation. Because I'm not into songs directly about Thatcher on today of all days, here are some of the great songs of the 1980s protesting the dire conditions facing working class and inner-city areas.

5. Style Council -- "A Stone's Throw Away"
Paul Weller of the Style Council, but more famously of The Jam, was a major figure in 1980s musical protests along with Bragg. Both of them formed a tour called "The Red Wedge," which unsuccessfully promoted the election of the Labour government in 1987 as a method of fixing the problems the Conservative government of Thatcher had caused. This song depicts the clashes between police and the striking miners at the pits in South Yorkshire, after the anti-closure protests turned extremely ugly. "Whenever honesty persists, you'll hear the snap of broken ribs."


4. Billy Bragg -- "Between the Wars"
A song protesting about the systematic destruction of the "cradle to grave" ideal of care that the British welfare state was founded on in the era of world wars, all you need from this protest anthem are the incredibly powerful lyrics "Call up the craftsmen/Bring me the draughtsmen/Build me a path from cradle to grave/and I'll give my consent/To any government/That does not deny a man a living wage." Bragg built a career on this kind of protest song.

Daddy, What Did You do in The Strike? by Ewan MacColl & Peggy Seeger on Grooveshark
3. Ewan MacColl -- "Daddy, What Did You Do In The Strike"
Arguably the main policy of Thatcher's that crippled working class towns and cities in relatively rural areas of the UK was the mine closures. Thatcher decided to close twenty coal mining pits in 1984 which were "uneconomic," but in doing so she destroyed entire towns based around the mining industry, a lot of which are still not even close to recovering from the welfare state dependency that was directly caused by the closures. This song from the height of the protests, by the famed activist (and father of Kirsty MacColl) expresses the solidarity between the affected workers and importance of the strikes that greeted the pit closures.

My Voice Nation Help
22 comments
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

Judy Garland's Ding-Dong, The Witch Is Dead has skyrocketed to number 10 on the hit parade in Britain.  No lie.

JustSaying
JustSaying

Nobody in Texas gives half a shit about your limey politics. Go cream in your shorts over another half assed bbq joint.

barrbo
barrbo

What a bunch of crap by people that have no clue.  UK headed to 2 world status.  Unemployment at 13%.  Her leadership brought that to 5.5%  But I'm sure all the idiots that posted are from England and lived through that time period....Right?

David S. Parkes
David S. Parkes

She was a total cunt whose poisonous legacy has blighted the lives of millions for decades since and those that are yet to come.

Joanna Jurgens
Joanna Jurgens

Kat - this is an utterly respectful and classy piece compared to most of what I have seen today. I respect that they are anti-Thatcher policy and not anti-human being.

Gavin Cleaver
Gavin Cleaver

It's about the fascinating artistic reaction provoked by her government's policies, not a direct attack or indeed a direct anything. We're not that insensitive.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

There's only one thing good to say about Thatcher.  She's dead.  Good! 

Kat Anne Hargrove
Kat Anne Hargrove

Wow. Can y'all not let her rest in peace for like, five minutes?

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

@pak152 That cow ruined the middle class in the UK, as Reagan ruined the middle class in the US.  Two peas off the same poisonous pod.

barrbo
barrbo

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz maybe many people will share the same thought about you.  Typical liberal.  You wish death to anybody that does not speak the right P C.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

@pak152 Listen, ducks, I make far more sense than most of the members of your crude posse make... put together.

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Dallas Event Tickets
Loading...