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How Polarizing a Figure Was Margaret Thatcher?

Margaret Thatcher remains one of the most polarizing leaders in modern history. Her staunch conservatism and economic policies reshaped the UK, earning her fervent supporters and vehement critics. Her legacy continues to spark debate: was she a visionary who invigorated Britain's economy, or did her policies deepen social divides? Reflect on her impact and join the conversation about Thatcher's indelible mark on history.

When you've spent most of your adult life in the public eye, you're bound to have earned some fans and some detractors -- even in death. In 2013, when British politician Margaret Thatcher died at age 87, radio stations and record charts in the UK became public forums for debate about her legacy.

Citizens who were apparently happy to be rid of the woman who served as prime minister from 1979 to 1990 pushed for the playing and purchasing of "Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead," from the soundtrack to The Wizard of Oz. Opponents fought back by promoting the 1979 Notsensibles' tune "I'm in Love with Margaret Thatcher."

Margaret Thatcher's death in 2013 polarized the British public.
Margaret Thatcher's death in 2013 polarized the British public.

While probably not truly indicative of the public's sentiment, sales figures favored "Ding Dong!" by a wide margin. In fact, the tune sold more than 50,000 copies and reached No. 2 on the charts, becoming the first song shorter than 60 seconds to reach such heights. Meanwhile, the Notsensibles' song didn't fare so well, with sales failing to reach 9,000.

Thatcher, nicknamed the "Iron Lady" for her strong leadership style, was the first woman to become British prime minister and to lead a major political party -- she was chief of the Conservative Party from 1975 until 1990.

Francis Maude, a cabinet office minister who oversaw the funeral arrangements, clearly thought the music contest failed to show proper respect for Thatcher. "I just think that doing it in the wake of an old lady's death doesn't reflect terribly well on us," he said. That sentiment was shared by Ruth Duccini, who played a Munchkin in The Wizard of Oz. Duccini said she found the promotion of the song deplorable. "Nobody deserves to be treated in such a way," she said. "When we were filming the movie no one intended it to be used in this way. I am ashamed, I really am."

More on Margaret Thatcher:

  • Thatcher grew up in a small apartment with no running water, toilet, or central heating.

  • Among her lesser-known nicknames, Thatcher was once called "Thatcher, the Milk Snatcher," for ending a school free milk program.

  • Thatcher preferred skirts and dresses to pants and always wore a pearl necklace with every outfit.

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    • Margaret Thatcher's death in 2013 polarized the British public.
      Margaret Thatcher's death in 2013 polarized the British public.