The death of Margaret Thatcher, the UK prime minister whose policies sparked divisions in her time in office, has almost inevitably triggered a furore – this time over songs in the music charts
The BBC has sought to minimise controversy surrounding airplay of Ding Dong! the Witch is Dead – which is being pushed by those with less than fond memories of the late PM – by saying it will only play only a snippet of the song during Radio 1’s chart show on Sunday evening.
In an example of rapid musical retaliation, Thatcher supporters have also been campaigning on Twitter and on social media to get their own song into the charts. The pro-Thatcher “buycott” is pushing I’m in Love with Margaret Thatcher, a punk micro hit for the Notsensibles in 1979, the year of her first election.
The song has film soundtrack connections of its own, being re-released to tie in with the recent Thatcher biopic “The Iron Lady” in which it featured.
The “Wizard of Oz” track has been propelled into the top 10 following a Facebook campaign initiated by anti-Thatcher protesters. Its climb up the charts raised concerns from supporters of the late Margaret Thatcher that the song would be played on Radio 1’s chart show.
However, following intervention from Lord Hall, the broadcaster’s new director-general, the BBC will play just a short section, accompanied by a news item explaining why it has entered the charts.
“The BBC finds this campaign distasteful but does not believe the record should be banned,” a spokesperson said.
Lord Hall added: “I understand the concerns about this campaign. I personally believe it is distasteful and inappropriate. However, I do believe it would be wrong to ban the song outright as free speech is an important principle and a ban would only give it more publicity.”
The song is also climbing rapidly in the Irish charts.
The BBC has been involved in similar controversies in the past. In 1977 the broadcaster banned God Save the Queen by the Sex Pistols and in 1984 restricted airings of Relax by Frankie Goes to Hollywood.
This is not the first time a social media campaign has manipulated the charts. In 2009, a Facebook campaign propelled Killing in the Name by Rage Against the Machine to the Christmas number one slot in protest at Simon Cowell’s X Factor show.