Thatcher Death "Party" In London Draws Small Crowd

by
Reuters
Only about 200 people turned up for a "party" in central London on Saturday to celebrate the death of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher as a mass protest predicted by some failed to materialise.

Only about 200 people turned up for a "party" in central London on Saturday to celebrate the death of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher as a mass protest predicted by some failed to materialise.

The British capital's mayor had warned of potential rioting as organisers promised thousands of opponents of Thatcher, who died aged 87 on Monday, would descend on London's Trafalgar Square to mark the passing of a leader who was loved and loathed in equal measure.

Current British politicians and world leaders past and present have paid tributes to the former premier, Britain's longest serving prime minister in over a century, but she continues to divide Britons over policies which saw her crush trade unions and privatise swathes of industry.

"I've been waiting to celebrate this for 30 years. Best day of my life," said Simon Gardner, a wildlife photographer from central England who was wearing a top saying "Rejoice, Rejoice, Thatcher is dead".

"She was hated by at least half the population."

The event, which had been planned by left-wing activists in the event of her death decades ago, had been billed as "the party of a lifetime".

But in cold and rainy conditions, it attracted only about 200 jovial supporters, chanting "Maggie, Maggie, Maggie, dead, dead, dead". Some danced to loud drums and waved banners bearing messages such as "Rot in hell Thatcher".

Others held up an effigy of Thatcher, complete with light blue suit and handbag, and cracked open bottles of champagne which were passed around the small crowd.

There were almost as many police and security personnel present, and a police officer at the scene told Reuters they had expected a far bigger turnout. Apart from a few brief and minor scuffles, the protest was peaceful.

Since her death, many of the divisions which characterised her time in office from 1979 to 1990 have resurfaced as was demonstrated in a ComRes poll for two Sunday newspapers.

It found 41 percent of those surveyed disagreed with Prime Minister David Cameron's description of her as the "greatest British peacetime prime minister", with 33 percent agreeing with the sentiment.

Some 59 percent agreed she was the most divisive premier the country had had, while 60 percent thought that Wednesday's ceremonial funeral, which commentators have estimated will cost about 10 million pounds, should not be funded by taxpayers.

"My mother once said to me 'Carol I think my place in history is assured'," her daughter Carol Thatcher told reporters outside her late mother's former home in central London.

"The magnificent tributes this week, the wonderful words of (U.S.) President (Barack) Obama, to others from colleagues who once worked alongside her, have proved her right."