Today, I Am Ashamed To Be British

10 Apr


From The Mail & Guardian, South Africa

By now, everyone knows that Margaret Thatcher died on Monday.  It has been headline news everywhere.

The BBC managed a Freudian typo – accidentally, I hope:  

Margaret Thatcher dies after a strike.

I wonder if the British reaction has been headline news around the world?  I hope not.

In Britain, many mourn; many…rejoice.  Champagne was sprayed; happy chants thought up; in Glasgow, people who are too young to remember her time in office threw a street party to celebrate.  It was not the only ‘death party’.   Signs appeared saying, Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead!  Facebookers – people I know – spewed vitriol.  

While I don’t deny that her policies caused hurt to many, I have been appalled and saddened at the awfulness of the public reaction in some quarters.  The weltschmerz I feel is compounded with shame.  Margaret Thatcher wasn’t a mass-murderer, a torturer, a genocidal maniac who kept heads in the refrigerator.  She was a strong woman, convinced she was right, and unafraid to act on her beliefs.  She was our first and, so far, only, female Prime Minister; for three terms.  No small achievement.  She was respected and sometimes feared on the world stage.

But all of that happened more than twenty years ago.  When she died, she was just a frail old lady.

former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatche...

former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in October 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What is wrong with a country in which people can show such scant respect for the dead?  In which it is okay to dance on the grave of a pensioner?

All politics aside, today, I am ashamed to be British.


77 Responses to “Today, I Am Ashamed To Be British”

  1. viveka April 10, 2013 at 20:27 #

    I have never been a fan of her … but I totally agree with you – she have family – she haven’t been in power for years. Terrible – disgusting. In all fairness I notice that when I lived of there, that the Brits enjoy dancing on peoples grave. It only shows how stupid people are – I can’t understand the press that also doing it … but the British press have always been hyenas. Over here it has been written about – but nobody has made any bad jokes about her death. Read today that she have been isolated on a hotel room.
    Very upsetting the whole thing. If I where British I would been ashamed too.


  2. sheilamariegrimes April 10, 2013 at 20:28 #

    From across the pond …I’ll always remember her as a strong woman.


  3. sarsm April 10, 2013 at 20:32 #

    I said pretty much word for word what you’ve written here (to my husband last night after watching it on the news). I too feel shame, especially being the only Brit I know who lives here. And yes, it is getting German coverage.


  4. Karen Snyder April 10, 2013 at 20:36 #

    Thank you for speaking out, Tilly!

    Too few politicians, then or now, have the courage to stand up for what they believe – most seem to simply pander to the prevailing winds. Small wonder there is such a problem finding decent folk to run for office. What possible gain can there be to spread such ugliness at this late date? Ms. Thatcher should be remembered graciously, if simply for the fact she tried to make a difference.


  5. siggiofmaine April 10, 2013 at 20:47 #

    I hadn’t seen any of that coverage here across the pond. I am so sorry.
    She, like us all, had her detractors, but it is needless to drag up the negative feelings after all these years.
    I remember a strong woman that I admired…not always agreed with, but admired for her strength and commitment to her country.

    My condolences for the loss of Margaret Thatcher, who died as a humble private citizen. And my condolences for those who would drag her name thru the public mud after her death and have the display reflect on your country. For me, it reflects on the individual, not your country.

    Peace and love,


    • The Laughing Housewife April 10, 2013 at 20:52 #

      Thank you, Siggi 🙂


    • siggiofmaine April 15, 2013 at 05:13 #

      A few days ago, I started seeing what you and others were talking about. It is appalling to think that people would act like that when someone dies.
      Be assured, the people I know do not think of that attitude being the whole country. We know, I know, that there are more self respecting people of your country that whether they agreed or disagreed with the policies of Margaret Thatcher, have more grace and reserve than to make a public spectacle during a time of public mourning.

      My condolences to you for the loss of Margaret Thatcher…and understand your distress at your countrymen.
      Peace and love,


  6. Kate Kresse April 10, 2013 at 20:55 #

    So well said, dear Tilly. Respect and honor for those that have passed seems to be a bare minimum for civilized people. I understand your shock and sorrow. I would imagine the reaction might be the same here in many quarters if George W. Bush died. Shameful is right. I saw that the Queen is honoring her with a state funeral, so that also says much. Thatcher had her flaws and strong points. But at a time when leadership was called for, she answered the call.


    • The Laughing Housewife April 10, 2013 at 21:00 #

      Thank you, Kate.

      To be honest, I can’t imagine Americans being so disrespectful to a dead former President.


      • Kate Kresse April 10, 2013 at 21:07 #

        oooh i wish you were right. but when jfk was assassinated there were some who celebrated. not in the numbers we are seeing regarding maggie thatcher. but there was no internet, and people were not as addicted to vitriol as they seem to be today. talking heads/talk radio seems to bring out the meanest most disrespectful discussions. I remember Mrs. Thatcher, though she had grown frail, insisted upon attending her dear friend Ronald Reagan’s funeral. that was so very touching. I thought she was a great leader. Not perfect. None are perfect. She was great. My sympathies to you—


  7. Laurie Nichols April 10, 2013 at 21:04 #

    I agree with you, I wrote about my memories of her in relation to her close friendship with our former President Ronald Reagan but in no way did I rejoice at her passing. I am sorry that her death has been treated with cold, callous behavior. I am sorry that you are sad.:(


  8. lanceleuven April 10, 2013 at 21:12 #

    Well done, Tilly. Well said. That’s exactly how I feel (but expressed more eloquently than I’ve managed over the last couple of days). I was by no means a fan of the her, but shame to all those who’ve reacted this way. It says far, far more about them than it ever does about her. Somebody’s mother died on Monday. That’s the fact that seems to have been forgotten.


  9. adinparadise April 10, 2013 at 21:13 #

    I absolutely agree with you, Tilly. Some of the stories I’ve been reading are disgusting.


    • The Laughing Housewife April 10, 2013 at 21:18 #

      I have just read that the Wizard of Oz song, Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead! is rising in the charts.

      I despair.


  10. viv blake April 10, 2013 at 21:24 #

    Thank you so much for posting this, Tilly. You have said everything that needed to be said about my shameful compatriots. Love her or loathe her, she was a fantastic woman at that particular time and overcame many bad practices to get the economy moving again.


    • The Laughing Housewife April 11, 2013 at 07:10 #

      Unfortunately, people can’t see past their hatred. But it’s the hatred of people too young to know what happened which bothers me.


  11. Grannymar April 10, 2013 at 21:34 #

    That Freudian typo ( a genuine mistake) was actually made by Gavan Reilly of early after the news of Margaret Thatcher’s death was announced. It was corrected, but not before it went viral. BBC have gone totally overboard with programmes about the woman, in fact the only one not interviewed so far, was the Downing Street cat!


  12. lenwilliamscarver April 10, 2013 at 21:38 #

    It is a sad sad day when respect for the dead is so convoluted. Here in the states not only are some of the dead shown no respect in many ways but so too the living. Seems there is no self- respect, no desire to be better, it is as if the more animalistic they can be the better, although I don’t agree with many of our administrations policies etc I do respect the office and that is so lacking anymore, I guess the some of the Brits felt it necessary to act like Americans in the lack of respect arena. I always looked at Margaret Thatcher as a strong, good minded person who had the best interest of her country and it’s people at heart. As JFK said “You can please some of the people some of the time..but not all of the people all the time” and she was that way too. May she now RIP.


  13. Tom Merriman April 10, 2013 at 21:55 #

    I agree with you too, Tilly. I’m shocked by the parties, in very bad taste. Mrs Thatcher divided opinion, yes, she made her place in the history books (and kept Britain’s history rich as well), but she did what she believed. Nowadays, people seem to do what they are told, like the riots from the other year, and, probably, the parties now. She was a strong woman, and she probably wouldn’t be bothered about all this fuss now, but her family are still here, and they have to watch and read some terrible things, and mourn their loss.


  14. April 10, 2013 at 22:00 #

    Tilly, I forgot some of the points you raised here. Great Blog ..again.


  15. slpmartin April 10, 2013 at 22:04 #

    Although I did not agree with all that she did or said, she was a great lady who I admired for her strength and courage to act upon her beliefs…we have few leaders like her these days in the world.


  16. kateshrewsday April 10, 2013 at 22:30 #

    Indeed, Tilly. It says so much about those who rejoice. Mean-spirited and unable to forgive, they will remain imprisoned by their own anger. Forgiveness is not just for the person who has done the wrong: it is just as much about the wronged coming to a state of peace with himself about the past.


  17. Musings April 10, 2013 at 22:46 #

    Oh dear. That is a shame. I have to say we don’t usually do that on our side of the pond.


  18. mara4africatoalgarve April 10, 2013 at 23:07 #

    I can understand that Margaret Thatcher was very unpopular in some sectors but I would never have imagined the disgusting way many people are reacting to her death. It’s insane!


  19. Maggie L R April 10, 2013 at 23:08 #

    Actually most of the coverage here in Canada, speaks of her strength and her character. She was strong in her actions and had to make some hard and painful cuts in a time when the country needed it, that is always difficult and is not a popular choice. Too many leaders bow to the pressure of voters and the rich. She was not one and for that should be admired. She earned the name Iron Lady.


  20. colonialist April 10, 2013 at 23:36 #

    You watch. The pendulum will swing at some time in the future, and once again people will realise how often she was right. It became fashionable to knock her, and the medicine she wanted to dish out was a bit strong for the weak stomachs of the time. As usual, she was quoted out of context on the Apartheid issue. I for one firmly believe her stance was right, and that the other leaders delayed rather than speeded up the transition. Her assessment of the ANC was spot-on – as they proved then and keep on proving.


  21. Sallyann April 11, 2013 at 00:15 #

    Hear hear !


  22. Al April 11, 2013 at 02:43 #

    Bravo, Tilly!

    I was a huge fan of hers (and Reagan) as you might expect. The only explanation I can think of for what’s going on over there is professional jealousy. For once a politician spoke their mind, didn’t pander and right or wrong, showed some backbone. It will be a cold day in hell before England will see that again.


    • The Laughing Housewife April 11, 2013 at 07:16 #

      Or any nation, it seems. These days, there are few strong leaders who are not also mad men. North Korea refers.


  23. gigihawaii April 11, 2013 at 03:44 #

    How mean spirited some of these people are. Yes, I would be embarrassed, too.


  24. jmgoyder April 11, 2013 at 06:24 #

    In Australia some horrible things have been said too and it makes me sick.


  25. bevchen April 11, 2013 at 07:41 #

    I’m from one of the areas that was affected by her policies (there are now NO mine left in Northumberland) and I’m disgusted by what I’ve been reading on Facebook. People trying to get “Ding, Dong, the Witch is Dead” to number one… people saying they’re glad she’s dead. I, too, am ashamed to be British! Luckily the British reaction doesn’t seem to have made the news here so I haven’t had to justify anything yet…


  26. benzeknees April 11, 2013 at 08:10 #

    I don’t blame you, I have been a bit perturbed by the awful comments being made about Margaret Thatcher over the last few days!


  27. mairedubhtx April 11, 2013 at 13:25 #

    Just to let you know, the disrespect you reference has NOT been reported here in the States. If anything, Lady Thatcher has been treated and given the utmost respect here because of her association with our President Reagan. She is much beloved here because of that, even though they did not always agree. It is remembered that she came to his funeral and for that we will be grateful since we know she was not well even then. I’m sad to hear that she is being treated so shabbily in death. She doesn’t deserve it, no matter what she did. She was your prime minister for 11 years. That is quite an achievement for anybody, let alone a woman. She led your country well; she must have done to be put in that position so often. To have her death celebrated so many years after she is out of power and when she has been ill is just not right.


  28. jatwood4 April 11, 2013 at 13:30 #

    You have explained my feelings exactly — thank you so much. We have become so much less civil to each other, over the past 20 years or so — I think the list of reasons is too long to write. Basically, no one has any respect for each other anymore. Personally, I blame at least part of it on American politicians, and radio “personalities” like Rush Limbaugh, who foster hate as a valid ethic to spread around.


  29. Katharine Trauger April 11, 2013 at 14:12 #

    I agree, my friend. Some of us respected her over here. Some of my friends have been passing along some of her great quotes on facebook, over here.

    I think you are seeing the activities and morality of those who were against her. There were some who grasped the whole picture, though, and they are being quiet, as is appropriate.

    Here’s to the memory of Margaret Thatcher’s best moments.

    May she rest in peace.


  30. Le Clown April 11, 2013 at 14:35 #

    Say what you want about the woman, she left an indelible mark to the UK. We tend to forget the people behind our politicians. For example, I have a huge disdain for Ronald Reagan’s policies, and what he’s done when he was president, but I cannot imagine the sadness and pain his wife and family must have endured during the last few years, dealing with his Alzheimer’s. We can be cruel.
    Le Clown


  31. artjen1971 April 11, 2013 at 22:21 #

    If nothing else, it’s respect for humanity as well as the office. We have the same problem in the U.S. with people maintaining a sense of their own honor code and integrity when their opinions get in the way of simple human kindness.


  32. xtrekki April 12, 2013 at 00:54 #

    I was in Cambodia when King Father, Sihanouk died, in October 12. Like Mrs Thatcher, his legacy was disputed. The King father died outside the country. On the day he returned, that roads were lined by grieving, sobbing, respectful Cambodians of all ages (and some foreigners, like ourselves). The State mounted a huge spectacle and the body lay in state for three months in the Royal Palace. Now – I’m not even suggesting that this country should up the scale of the existing funeral arrangements. But – a little understanding that an elderly, frail woman has died and deserves the respect we would wish for ourselves and ours.


  33. thefreshmanexperience April 12, 2013 at 03:23 #

    The news chose to show sick people to get ratings and make money. Mrs. Thatcher has been out of “power” for a while. She did what she felt was best. I can respect and honor anyone who acted in such a manner.

    Tilly, do not be ashamed for being British because some people are stupid. We have stupid people in America too. As I tell my students, “there are no stupid questions, but there are stupid people. Think before you ask.”


  34. Helen Cherry April 12, 2013 at 07:47 #

    I find it hard to read this without saying anything so I will say something. . While I absolutely do NOT condone the really unseemly dancing on someone’s grave I do understand the deep anger and bitterness felt in many parts of the country..
    Margaret Thatchers ( well her governments) free-market policies included trade liberalisation, deregulation, sweeping privatisation, breaking the power of the unions and focus on the individual. Selfishness and greed are her legacies.. She presided over one VERY important thing and that was the de-regulation of the banks. Just look at the mess that has got us in.
    Her privitisation meant that the most vulnerable members of society, the elderly, disabled, mentally ill, learning disabled – all sold to the private sector ( care homes and care at home) for private enterprise to make a profit from. Is that what a decent caring society does. I don’t think so, but Maggie Thatcher did famously saying there was no such thing as society and she certainly did her best to destroy it.. She knew the cost of everything and the value of nothing…. and that’s the greedy “every man for himself” legacy she has left.
    Rant over…


    • The Laughing Housewife April 12, 2013 at 08:49 #

      Thank you for helping to make my point – it is possible to be disdainful of Mrs Thatcher without celebrating her death. You make excellent points but you don’t dance on her grave.

      I have no problem with people hating what she stood for; that’s democracy. It is the utter disrespect for the dead and her family which I find distasteful.


  35. bluebee April 12, 2013 at 11:17 #

    We’re getting all that coverage here, Tilly. I think it’s more a gender issue than about Margaret Thatcher per se. Our female PM gets the most appalling press to a level that I have never seen with any male PM.


  36. misswhiplash April 12, 2013 at 15:45 #

    Strong willed, determined, a woman who succeded in a man’s world. For that I ad

    mired Mrs T–her politics were not always popular but she never backed down. The lady was not for turning.. that suited her well. Like you I feel ashamed that I am British whegn people act with hate and disrespect …


  37. bluebee April 12, 2013 at 22:05 #

    I thought you might be interested in this article by Lionel Shriver


  38. eof737 April 13, 2013 at 08:53 #

    I had no idea she was being maligned in death… Sad really. I wasn’t a big fan but I wish her family well… 😦


    • The Laughing Housewife April 13, 2013 at 12:00 #

      That’s it, isn’t it? You don’t have to like someone to treat their death with a little dignity.


  39. Kath Shanahan April 13, 2013 at 23:54 #

    Loved your comments Tilly, and I wholeheartedly endorse them. I am a Brit living in New Zealand (and was not living in the UK when Mrs Thatcher came to power). However, I still have felt ashamed to be British over the last week. Yes – a lot of her policies were unpopular, but at least she had the courage of her convictions, right or wrong! Those people celebrating her death (who would have been far too young to have been around when she was in power) remind me of the children of Ku Klux Klan members – being indoctrinated with hatred – so sad….


    • The Laughing Housewife April 14, 2013 at 08:11 #

      Thank you.

      The hatred is dreadful to witness, especially amongst the younger people.

      Do you have a blog so I can return your visit?


      • Kath Shanahan April 14, 2013 at 19:32 #

        Unfortunately, no – wouldn’t have a clue how to set one up, lol. Came across yours completely by accident, but felt compelled to add my support to what you said. I am hoping they show the funeral on TV over here, and I hope people will at least show some respect for that.


    • The Laughing Housewife April 14, 2013 at 08:11 #

      Thank you.

      The hatred is dreadful to witness, especially amongst the younger people.

      Do you have a blog so I can return your visit?


  40. SchmidleysScribbling April 15, 2013 at 13:16 #

    Some how, I missed this. I suppose my nice comments about her took some by surprise, but I was a fan of MTs. Yes, its a lonely place, but I know far more about her than most as I wrote a lengthy research paper on her life and work as PM for one of my history grad courses. Got an A- so not too bad a paper either.

    She wasn’t perfect, but no politician was ever perfect. I could go on writing about Churchill and Gallipoli, LBJ and Vietnam, JFK and 10,000 women and Bill Clinton, but you know what I mean.

    Politics are complicated and things are not often what they seem. Even George W. Bush had his good points. I never voted for him, but came to see that the press was terribly unfair to him. I won’t go there because this is about MT. All I can say is, does anyone remember the tale of the Goose who laid the golden egg? Yes I am a pensioner. No I don’t want my benefits, (2/3 of my income) cut. I may see that happen under Obama. If loop holes are closed for the extrememly wealthy, I won’t mind. We all must do our part.

    You don’t need to be ashamed to be a Brit. I know not all Brits are nuts. Dianne


  41. Perfecting Motherhood April 19, 2013 at 02:52 #

    I hear you. I read some comments that were made about her and I found them disgraceful. I’m far from being a George W Bush fan but I can’t imagine saying disrespectful comments when he dies. In the end, we’re all people, part of a family who is grieving.



  1. Daily Prompt–Press It | My Life, Such As It is - April 11, 2013

    […] third is by the Laughing Housewife on the reaction of some of the British public to the death of Margaret […]


I welcome your comments but be warned: I'm menopausal and as likely to snarl as smile. Wine or Maltesers are an acceptable bribe; or a compliment about my youthful looks and cheery disposition will do in a pinch.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: