This is the third item in a series of four on anti-Thatcher songs and song-writers. In this instalment, we focus on the controversial celebrations that greated Margaret Thatcher’s death in 2013. The core material for this activity are two videos dealing with these celebrations. In addition to questions which encourage students to react to the videos, the activity entails a class debate in which students are asked to voice arguments against and in favour of such celebrations. They are asked to use arguments drawn from the two videos, as well as to come up with arguments of their own.
Document 1 – Margaret Thatcher’s death celebrated in Brixton, Video by the Guardian, 9th April 2013
Document 2 – BBC defends Baroness Thatcher Ding Dong song decision, 12th April 2013, video by the BBC
1. Watch the 2 above videos.
2. What is your gut reaction to the demonstrations in Brixton? Which political, sociological and ethical questions do they raise?
3. What do you think of the BBC’s decision? Do you think it is in-keeping with the BBC’s missions and status?
4. Can you think of any other case, in Britain or in France, where such a question was raised regarding a political song?
Preparation for a class debate:
5. Write down all the arguments mentioned in the videos in favour and against celebrating Thatcher’s death and/or broadcasting Ding Dong the Witch is Dead from The Wizard of Oz.
6. Can you think of other arguments which are not mentioned?
7. Take a few minutes to imagine which character you are going to impersonate for the debate: either somebody who is passionately against the celebration of Thatcher’s deat, or, on the contrary, somebody who has been celebrating her passing. In either case, write down a very short biography for the character you have chosen: you could be Thatcher’s cousin, a retired miner who went on strike in 1984-85, a journalist who has to report on the celebration, etc…
8. Off we go with the debate! Everybody in the class has to speak at least one, and the teacher, or a student granted this role, will make sure both sides of the arguments have their voice heard. Estimated time: half an hour.