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‘Thatcher’s dead, long live the miners!’

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Politicians paid tribute to Margaret Thatcher while ordinary people celebrated, reports Judith Orr
Issue 2349

Around 3,000 people gathered in Trafalgar Square in London in pouring rain last Saturday evening to celebrate the death of Margaret Thatcher. 

The loudest cheers and applause came with the arrival of the North East Area National Union of Mineworkers banner.

Chants of “Thatcher’s dead, long live the miners” rang around the square.

Ex-miners and members of the Durham Miners Association Dave Douglas and Trevor Bark carried the banner.

“We want to show that not every­one is swallowing these eulogies about a woman who hated the working class,” said Dave.

A delegation of Women Against Pit Closures headed up by Anne Scargill came from Yorkshire. 

Anne told Socialist Worker, “We came to support all those people whose lives Thatcher destroyed. 

“Today there are no jobs for our children and grandchildren. We’re having to open food banks to help people get by. 

“And now they are spending all this money on her funeral.”

Anne was joined by Betty Cook, who lost her son in a mining accident in Kellingley pit in north Yorkshire in 2008. 

Betty told Socialist Worker that Thatcher was wrong to think that miners’ wives would try and get their husbands to break the strike. 

“Thatcher was called the Iron Lady,” she said, “but we were thousands of Iron Ladies and we supported the strike.”

Some people wore party hats and, despite police attempts to take bottles, many swigged champagne. 

“I came here to get my sanity back” Sarah Jackson told Socialist Worker. “I have felt like I lived in an alternative universe listening to all the praise for Thatcher. 

“As a single parent she demonised me. As a black person I hated her support for apartheid South Africa.”

A giant Thatcher puppet was carried through the square, its hair made up of Sainsbury’s carrier bags.

One ex-Nottinghamshire miner summed up the mood. 

“She was loyal to her class,” he said. “We have to be loyal to ours”.

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