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She was only a grocer’s daughter.

11 Apr

From spotting the first “ding dong, the witch is dead” comments on social media, it became quickly clear that Margaret Thatcher had died and a lot of people were rather happy about it, as crass as that seems.
Now, this is primarily a blog about popular culture, film and music, and directly political posts would seem out of my self appointed remit, but Thatcher’s influence on the arts (and music in particular) is the tangible link I’m going to cling to for her inclusion in the blog.

Thanks are also due to The Blow Monkeys and their 1987 album title for inspiring its use as the title of this blog entry. I’d like to think of it as a mark of respect to be honest; Margaret Thatcher came from humble beginnings and showed us that through hard work and dedication you could become arguably the most powerful woman in the country.

Not that my opinion of her is all that positive. Here’s what I said on Facebook two days ago, in response to other posters (many much younger than myself or just ill informed) who seemed to have little or no idea about why she was attracting so much vitriol. I did draw the line at suggesting we should throw a street party, I feel I have to add! Here’s what I said:

I’ve seen comments (some from people who were born after Thatcher left government) saying that the response to her death has been ‘a bit harsh’ and ‘out of order’. Out of order? A bit harsh? Like what happened in the riots of 1981 was out of order? Or the systematic destruction of the coal and steel industries? Or the disproportionate power given to the City while the economy was not supported elsewhere? She brought down the left, the Labour movement and the work of post-war social democracy, which some of us hold quite important…we are in a society that is still in the shadow of Thatcherism, as it still does not truly represent the working man and woman. This is not Ancient Rome; we don’t have to deify our dead leaders. Millions of people feel the same way and the right to express it (for some of the reasons mentioned), whilst causing no harm to others, is our absolute right. While it must be a sad time for her family, she was a politician, and should be judged separately on that fact.

But I wasn’t finished there. Oh no.

..and the harboring of a south American mass murderer. The sanctioning of the Hillsborough cover up. The purposeful degradation of Republican areas in Northern Ireland. The almost complete selling off of the north sea oil fields for what has turned out to be just a dollar a barrel royalty. I could go on to mention devastating effect of the plundering of the social housing stock and other things but you get the picture. Not to mention her support for apartheid. (which I obviously did mention!)

Now, perhaps in retrospect that was a bit biased to the Left, but then again I am a Guardian reading, equal rights supporting, environmentally aware Leftie git with no more interest in any right wing activities than, for example, (and to use a blatant stereotype here), fox hunting than, well, say a fox.

However, when you consider that some of the most convincing and creative endeavours can come as a response to something an artist really doesn’t like, then it’s not hard to see how Thatcher has inspired at least one generation, even if it was ‘only’ strapping on an acoustic guitar, writing some lyrics and doing a Billy Bragg. Artistic triumph in the face of adversity; socking it to The Man, or more particularly in this case, The Woman.

Anyway, here are a few of my favourite anti-Thatcher sentiments, as expressed musically. Many are actually from the ‘80s and the heart of the strong feeling projected towards her cabinet’s policies. Hopefully the Youtube links stay around for a while.

Morrissey: “Margaret on the guillotine”

Elvis Costello: “Tramp the dirt down”.

Billy Bragg: “Thatcherites”

Crass: “Sheep Farming in the Falklands”

The The: “Heartland”


Scandal (2011 style).

24 Jul

Few public scandals seem to typify our moment in history quite like the current News of the World soap opera. Arguably the biggest purveyor of unethical and sensationalist journalism now finds itself resigned to a quick death after becoming the very focal point of a scandal now being covered by the rest of the tabloid press, amongst others. How ironic; how post-modern. Or is it now Post-post-modern? I lose track of where we are up to with our official cultural positioning, but one thing is clear, this isn’t going to be over within a matter of months.

Somehow I don' t think the Sunday edition will be out either.

For anyone who’s been living in a place without newspapers recently (North Pole?), the revelations that the mobile phone of the dead Milly Dowler had been ‘hacked’ by The News of the World led to a slow but steady stream of further revelations. This had not been the only hacking incident. No, siree, not by a long chalk. Also, with the news that PM David Cameron employed former News of the World editor Andy Coulson at No. 10, you have to wonder exactly who knew what and how much they knew. Or perhaps some people are just incredibly stupid. Continue reading