Arts, Culture & Media

Margaret Thatcher, Social Class and UK Pop Culture

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A puppet of Britain's former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher is displayed at the Sotheby's auction house at Olympia in central London, November 23, 2001. The puppet is one of a selection from the satirical Britain Television show "Spitting Image" which will be auctioned next Thursday. [The selection also includes a new puppet of Osama bin Laden, proceeds from the sale of which will go support Afghan refugees and victims of the World Trade Centre attacks.]

Credit:

© Kieran Doherty / Reuters

Anyone who lived through Britain's Thatcher years won't forget them in a hurry. Politically, there were no fence-sitters: you were either with her or against her, George W. Bush-style. (Thatcher is sometimes referred to as Britain's version of Ronald Reagan, but she had little of Reagan's charm or likeability.) She was adored and reviled— and not much in between.

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There were plays and movies about the effects of her policies, most of them taking the line that these were scorched-earth policies that wreaked havoc on ordinary working people. There were untold songs about Thatcher— everyone from Elvis Costello to The English Beat to UB40. They attacked her for supporting apartheid in South Africa, for breaking labor unions, and for going to war in the Falkland Islands.

Under different circumstances, Thatcher might have admired those musicians for their work ethic. They practiced what she preached.

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    A toy figure of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher is seen at a window in central London (Photo: Reuters/Stefan Wermuth)