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In still divided Britain, 'Ding Dong!' tolls for Thatcher

| Friday, April 12, 2013, 7:27 p.m.
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People in Brixton, a working class section of London, celebrate the death of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher on April 8, 2013 in London. Thatcher led the UK through some turbulent years and contentious issues including the Falklands War, the miners' strike and the Poll Tax riots. Photo by Danny E. Martindale | Getty Images
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A picture dated March 29, 1987 shows then British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher greeting curious Moscovites who gathered to see her in Moscow, during her official visit to the USSR. AFP | Getty Images

LONDON — Detractors of the late Margaret Thatcher are taking a kind of musical revenge on the former prime minister, pushing the song “Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead” up the British charts in a posthumous protest over her polarizing policies.

By Friday the online campaign had propelled the “Wizard of Oz” song to No. 1 on British iTunes and into the top five of the music chart used by the BBC to compile its weekly radio countdown.

Many in Britain are divided on her legacy, with critics unhappy with Thatcher's uncompromising stance against the country's labor unions, for example.

David Karpf, who studies online campaigns, said the chart battle was an example of a new kind of protest enabled by social media — “A way for people to signal protest en masse without shouting from the rooftops.”

Lawmakers from Thatcher's Conservative Party had called for the publicly funded broadcaster to drop the song, while others warned that such a move would mean censoring dissent.

The BBC, caught between allegations of censorship and poor taste, split the difference, saying it would broadcast a snippet of the tune — with an explanation of why it was there.

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