Billy Bragg and Dave Wakeling of the English Beat have joined the chorus of Britons weighing in on the death of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who died yesterday at 87. Two musicians in a long list of Brits who were outspoken critics of Thatcher and her conservative policies, Bragg and Wakeling weighed in shortly after Morrissey blasted the former Tory leader on The Daily Beast as "a terror without an atom of humanity."
Bragg and Wakeling react with a hint more compassion – or at least, restraint – than the former Smiths frontman, even though the 1980 English Beat song "Whine & Grine / Stand Down Margaret" and Bragg's 1996 "Thatcherites" make the list of the harshest anti-Thatcher tunes. Read their full statements below. Wakeling offered this quote:
Although I rejoice in no one's death, Margaret Thatcher's passing is an important event for those who lived under her regime. She made competitors out of neighbors, and people stopped talking at bus stops, even about the weather, in the shadow of her affected, pretend posh accent. Margaret made herself big on the tears and suffering of others, more Cromwell than Churchill, yet however much pain she caused us, I wish comfort and solace to her family today.
Bragg, posting on his Facebook page, wrote:
This is not a time for celebration. The death of Margaret Thatcher is nothing more than a salient reminder of how Britain got into the mess that we are in today. Of why ordinary working people are no longer able to earn enough from one job to support a family; of why there is a shortage of decent affordable housing; of why domestic growth is driven by credit, not by real incomes; of why tax-payers are forced to top up wages; of why a spiteful government seeks to penalise the poor for having an extra bedroom; of why Rupert Murdoch became so powerful; of why cynicism and greed became the hallmarks of our society.
Raising a glass to the death of an infirm old lady changes none of this. The only real antidote to cynicism is activism. Don't celebrate – organise!