The late British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s unpopularity was on full display around the world one day after her passing, as a residue of bitterness over her conservative politics in the U.K. and Africa even led some to celebrate her death with cake and champagne.
In the U.K, there were impromptu street parties, with cheering crowds handing out “Maggie death cake.” In the section of South London, known as Brixton, the scene of 1981 race riots that were among the worst of Thatcher’s term, hundreds of people gathered, shouting: “Maggie, Maggie, Maggie, dead, dead, dead!”
According to the Daily Mirror, others shouted, “Free milk for all,” referring to Thatcher’s memorable policy of ending milk subsidies for school children.
In the northern countries of the U.K. such as Scotland, Thatcher is remembered among the poor and working-class as the politician who destroyed the British manufacturing industry, leading to a high level of vitriol against her. A crowd of about 300 people gathered in George Square in Glasgow, Scotland, singing “So long, the witch is dead.” There was even a Facebook page set up to push the song “Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead” to the top of the charts in the wake of her death.
A website that had been set up several years ago with a single question: “Is Thatcher Dead Yet?” on Monday answered with the word “YES” in big, bold capital letters. The site added, “The lady’s not returning.” The site’s creators, Antonio Lulic and Jared Earle, also asked readers: “How are you celebrating?”
In South Africa, the reaction to her death was based on her refusal to impose sanctions on South Africa’s apartheid regime and on her description of the African National Congress in 1987 as terrorists.
“Anyone who thinks it is going to run the government in South Africa is living in cloud-cuckoo land,” she said of the ANC at the time.
Pallo Jordan, a once-exiled ANC leader, told the Guardian, “Good riddance.”
“I’ve just sent a letter of congratulations,” Jordan said. “I say good riddance. She was a staunch supporter of the apartheid regime. She was part of the right-wing alliance with Ronald Reagan that led to a lot of avoidable deaths.”
In the Daily Beast, the singer Morrissey of the band The Smiths wrote that Thatcher was “without an atom of humanity.” Morrissey penned a song about Thatcher called, “Margaret on the Guillotine.”
Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone said, “Every real problem we face today is the legacy of the fact she was fundamentally wrong.”
But Thatcher also had her defenders. Former conservative Member of Parliament Louise Mensch, who resigned her position last year to move to New York with her new husband, used Twitter to thrash those celebrating Thatcher’s death: “Pygmies of the left so predictably embarrassing yourselves, know this: Not a one of your leaders will ever be globally mourned like her.”