Hundreds of opponents of Margaret Thatcher filled London’s Trafalgar Square on Saturday evening for a rain-soaked celebration of the former British prime minister’s death earlier this week.
Former coal miners involved in the year-long strike against the Iron Lady’s government in the 1980s joined far-left activists and students to drink to the Iron Lady’s demise.
An effigy of the former Conservative leader was carried through the crowd, complete with her trademark string of pearls, blouse and flowing hair made from orange plastic bags.
There was a strong police presence for the demonstration, an informal gathering organised on social media sites.
Among the crowd were ex-miners from the north of England, who saw their communities devastated in a wave of pit closures under Thatcher’s 11 years in power from 1979 to 1990.
David Douglas, a retired miner who worked at Hatfield Colliery in Yorkshire, said he was “very pleased” at news of Thatcher’s death on Monday at the age of 87 following a stroke.
“It was one evil that was off the scene,” he told AFP. “I know she’s only part of a system, but she was a particularly divisive person.”
Sigrid Holmwood, a 34-year-old Scottish artist living in London, came well-prepared for the rain with a special umbrella reading “ding dong” on the front.
A song from the hit musical the Wizard of Oz, “Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead”, has become a rallying cry for anti-Thatcher sentiment since her death and has shot up the singles charts this week.
“I came here today, I wouldn’t say to celebrate, but protesting against millions of public money being spent on her funeral when there are cuts that affect the sick or the disabled,” Holmwood said.
Thatcher will be given a ceremonial funeral on Wednesday complete with full military honours and a 2,000 strong guest-list headed by Queen Elizabeth II and involving many world figures.
Elsewhere on Saturday, some fans of Liverpool football club held up anti-Thatcher banners at a Premier League match reading “We’re gonna have a party” and chanted “Maggie’s dead, dead, dead”.
Britain’s first female prime minister was a particularly divisive figure among football fans because of her plans to eradicate hooliganism by introducing a deeply unpopular identity card scheme.
She was also blamed for destroying traditional industries in the northern towns and cities that are home to many of England’s football clubs.
Watch video of the gathering at Trafalgar Square, posted by YouTube user “sw10studios” on Saturday, below.