|A flag-draped coffin is carried on a gun carriage past St Clement Danes
Church during a rehearsal for the funeral of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher in London. Picture: Getty Image
“Ding Dong the Witch is Dead” has become a surprise hit in Ireland and Britain after the death of Margaret Thatcher.
She will be buried today, Wednesday, in a ceremony that is already attracting massive criticism for its cost and its cast of characters.
“Ding Dong...” flew up the charts in both Britain and Ireland, fueled by malice and a sense of revenge by working class British and nationalistic Irish who could never forgive the Iron Lady for her deeds.
It is a fair summary of how controversial the former British leader still is decades after she left power. With Margaret Thatcher there are no shades of grey.
That seems true over on the U.S. side too.
The list of official attendees from America is very interesting.
The Guardian reports the following names as attending; Dick Cheney, Henry Kissinger, George Schultz, James Baker, and Ross Perot. All except Perot were high-ranking figures in Republican administrations.
Congresswoman Michele Bachman, perhaps the biggest right wing flake in Congress, will also attend accompanied by two other Republican members of the house.
Not a single Democrat among them, pointedly no Obama or Secretary of State John Kerry.
It appears the Thatcher legacy in the U.S. is every bit as controversial over here as it was in Britain.
By your friends shall you know them and Thatcher will always be a heroine to the right wing in America who credits her with helping to defeat communism.
Ironically Mikhail Gorbachev, responsible for much of Thatcher’s inflated reputation on bringing down communism, will not attend nor will Nancy Reagan, the wife of her soul mate Ronald Reagan, who is said to have resented the relationship.
The Irish government is playing it low key indeed with Education Minister Ruari Quinn the sole representative. There is no love lost between Thatcher and most Irish with figures like Martin McGuinness being forced to appeal for no celebrations after she died.
(Ironically former Prime Minister Tony Blair issued the same appeal to British working class who were holding impromptu parties everywhere.)
According to The Guardian, the funeral will cost $15 million, an incredible sum for an out of power and long retired Prime Minister.
Henrik Hertzberg, writing in The New Yorker, noted that Thatcher won three terms but never a majority of votes as the Labour Party and Liberal party split the left wing vote. Yet she always governed like she had an absolute majority.
She also left Britain a much worse place, he points out.
Under her, “The rumpled, cozy Britain of the postwar decades, the Britain of the Ealing comedies, of the Goon Show and Wallace & Gromit, gave way, amid riots and tumult, to a Britain of pitiless dynamism and poisonous inequality.”
That will be her final legacy I think, a nation divided forever over what she represents and represented. I believe history will judge her harshly in terms of her fundamental achievement of pitting her own people against each other.