The funeral of Tory Margaret Thatcher today, Wednesday, was marked by pride and dignity – the pride and dignity of ex-miners who celebrated her death.
There was a carnival atmosphere in Goldthorpe, South Yorkshire. Over 2,000 ex-miners, their families and supporters marched with an effigy of the hated Tory leader in an open coffin – then burned it.
Cheers and chants of “Maggie, Maggie Maggie – burn, burn, burn” rang out as the pyre was lit on waste ground in a street of boarded up houses. Ex-miners threw pint glasses at it as the coffin caught fire.
Thatcher destroyed the lives of ordinary people in Goldthorpe. Robbie Conway told Socialist Worker, “This has been in the pipeline since the strike – we’ve saved bottles of champagne or rum for this.
“Everyone cheered when Saddam Hussein’s statue was pulled down. Why not celebrate Thatcher’s death?”
Many people talked about the ferocity of the police against striking miners during the 1984-85 strike. “Police ran riot down these streets,” said one.
“They’re saying we should respect Margaret Thatcher and her kids but what about our kids? The police scared them to death. They were bastards, they jeered at our clothes and trainers.”
Many talked about the battle at Orgreave coking plant, when police charged into picketing miners.
Ann Guy said, “My auntie lived at Catcliffe down from Orgreave. She hid miners in her cellar because they’d run from the police.
“It’s a wasteland now. There are only shit jobs that nobody wants. I’m a carer and I get £80 a week. The Tories spend more on a bottle of wine.”
Others were there for those who didn’t live to see Thatcher’s death. One protester explained, “My dad died at 39. There was no work after the strike and he couldn’t bear it.”
Mary, a care worker who has just been made redundant after 24 years, said Thatcher was “wrong about everything”.
“We saw our families go to soup kitchens,” she said. “Now a funeral that costs millions is thrown in our face.”
Celebrations continued at the Rusty Dudley pub with fireworks. The wife of a seriously disabled miner summed up the mood. “He had to work on his hands and knees,” she said. “But we won’t bow to Thatcherism.”
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