Crowds 'Celebrate' Death of Thatcher as Party Pooper Grieving McGuinness Calls Halt
Hundreds of cheering people have held parties to 'celebrate' the death of Margaret Thatcher.
A crowd assembled in Glasgow's George Square yesterday where in 1989 protests to the introduction of Thatcher's poll tax took place.
Some wore party hats and launched streamers into the air while a bottle of champagne was opened with a toast to the demise of Baroness Thatcher.
Members of various organisations including the Anti-Bedroom Tax Federation, the Communist Party, the Socialist Party, the Socialist Working Party, the International Socialist Group, were joined by members of the public to mark the occasion.
People gathered in Brixton, south London - the scene of fierce riots in 1981 - two years into her first time in office.
In British Occupied Ireland a crowd gathered in Derry to 'celebrate' the death. Many waving Tricolour flags gathered at the famous Free Derry Corner in the city's Bogside.
Several Chinese lanterns were lit as families gathered in the area. Crowds also gathered on the Falls Road in west Belfast.
While mainstream Labour politicians in the UK issued carefully crafted and calibrated statements to mark her passing, others on the left did little to disguise their jubilation at her death.
On social media sites, street parties were discussed to “celebrate” Lady Thatcher’s demise. An analysis by the media-monitoring firm Synthesio suggested that about one in three social-media comments following her death was negative.
George Galloway, ex-Labour , took to Twitter to denounce her policies on apartheid and Ireland. “May she burn in the hellfires,” he wrote, adding later: “She was a witch.” The former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone, the leader of the Greater London Council when it was abolished by Lady Thatcher, was more restrained, but critical. “She created today’s housing crisis, she produced the banking crisis, she created the benefits crisis,” he said. “Every real problem we face today is the legacy of the fact she was fundamentally wrong.”
A Labour councillor in Colchester was forced to apologise after tweeting a picture of a bottle of champagne with the words: “I’ve had this in the fridge for many years just waiting for this very day.” Tina Bourne said her earlier tweet had been crass and insensitive.
The comedian Frankie Boyle had no such qualms. “Finally, I get to wear my black suit and tap shoes together,” he wrote.
There was also a reaction from music star Morrissey, a long-time critic of Baroness Thatcher, who berated her as "barbaric" and "without an atom of humanity".
The former Smiths singer has often aired his thoughts about his dislike of the former Prime Minister through song - with tracks such as Margaret On The Guillotine - and in interviews. He claimed she was "charged by negativity" and said she "closed" rather than opened the doors for women as the first female PM.
In a statement he said: "Thatcher is remembered as The Iron Lady only because she possessed completely negative traits such as persistent stubbornness and a determined refusal to listen to others.
"Every move she made was charged by negativity; she destroyed the British manufacturing industry, she hated the miners, she hated the arts, she hated the Irish freedom fighters and allowed them to die, she hated the English poor and did nothing at all to help them, she hated Greenpeace and environmental protectionists, she was the only European political leader who opposed a ban on the Ivory Trade, she had no wit and no warmth and even her own Cabinet booted her out."
Outspoken Morrissey, who recently cancelled a series of shows due to ill health, went on: "Thatcher will only be fondly remembered by sentimentalists who did not suffer under her leadership, but the majority of British working people have forgotten her already, and the people of Argentina will be celebrating her death. As a matter of recorded fact, Thatcher was a terror without an atom of humanity," he added.
Film director Ken Loach also criticised the former leader describing her as "an enemy of the working class".
He said: "Margaret Thatcher was the most divisive and destructive Prime Minister of modern times. Mass unemployment, factory closures, communities destroyed – this is her legacy. She was a fighter and her enemy was the British working class. Her victories were aided by the politically corrupt leaders of the Labour Party and of many Trades Unions. It is because of policies begun by her that we are in this mess today.
"Other prime ministers have followed her path, notably Tony Blair. She was the organ grinder, he was the monkey. Remember she called Mandela a terrorist and took tea with the torturer and murderer Pinochet."
Loach added: "How should we honour her? Let’s privatise her funeral. Put it out to competitive tender and accept the cheapest bid. It's what she would have wanted."
Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams said Thatcher caused "great hurt to the Irish and British people" during her time as Prime Minister.
"Working class communities were devastated in Britain because of her policies," he said.
"Margaret Thatcher will be especially remembered for her shameful role during the epic hunger strikes of 1980 and 81.
"Her Irish policy failed miserably."
Perhaps not surprisingly, some of the harshest criticism came from former miners, whose anger remains undimmed nearly 30 years after their attempt to take on the Conservative government over pit closures.
The general secretary of the Durham Miners' Association said Baroness Thatcher's passing was a "great day" for coal miners.
Ex-miner David Hopper, who turned 70 on Monday, spent all of his working life at Wearmouth Colliery.
He said: "It looks like one of the best birthdays I have ever had. There's no sympathy from me for what she did to our community. She destroyed our community, our villages and our people.
"For the union this could not come soon enough and I'm pleased that I have outlived her. It's a great day for all the miners, I imagine we will have a counter demonstration when they have her funeral.
"Our children have got no jobs and the community is full of problems. There's no work and no money and it's very sad the legacy she has left behind.
"She absolutely hated working people and I have got very bitter memories of what she did. She turned all the nation against us and the violence that was meted out on us was terrible. I would say to those people who want to mourn her that they're lucky she did not treat them like she treated us."
Darren Vaines, 47, a former miner who worked at Ackton Hall Colliery near Pontefract, West Yorkshire, and was on strike for the entire 12 months of the dispute, said: "It's a very strange emotional feeling because her death brings back a lot of memories and opens up a wound that has never really healed. The cut went so deep people have never been able to forget about it. It's something they can never get out of their system."
Mr Vaines, whose friend and colleague David Jones was killed aged 24 when violence erupted on a picket line at Ollerton, Nottinghamshire in 1984, said many communities have never come to terms with Mrs Thatcher's actions.
Chris Kitchen, general secretary for the National Union of Miners, said: "We've been waiting for a long time to hear the news of Baroness Thatcher's demise and I can't say I'm sorry.
"I've got no sympathy for Margaret Thatcher and I will not be shedding a tear for her. She's done untold damage to the mining community. I don't think Margaret Thatcher had any sympathy for the mining communities she decimated, the people she threw on the dole and the state she left the country in."
In a sign of how Baroness Thatcher’s divisive legacy continues, it was not just old political foes who appeared to welcome her death. When the news reached the National Union of Students (NUS) conference, it was met with applause and cheering.
Loughborough student Jago Pearson, who was at the conference in Sheffield, said: “There was a significant reaction to it. I’d say it was around 30 or 40 people doing it.
“This didn’t come from the NUS leadership, it was the delegates.”
Celebration of Margaret Thatcher's death on Falls Road, Belfast