MARGARET Thatcher’s countless opponents moved quickly to attack her political legacy within hours of her death, with one Yorkshire MP provoking outrage with the wish that she “burn in the hellfires”.
The Iron Lady’s undoubted status as the most divisive figure in modern British politics was starkly apparent as people used social networking websites such as Facebook and Twitter to arrange parties and public gatherings to celebrate her death.
A Facebook page titled “Sheffield Thatcher Dead Party” claimed a party was planned for Barker’s Pool in the city centre last night, with around 100 people posting to suggest they would attend.
Meanwhile Bradford West MP George Galloway was heavily criticised after posting a series of inflammatory comments online, highlighting Lady Thatcher’s opposition to Nelson Mandela and his ANC party in the 1980s.
“Thatcher described Nelson Mandela as a ‘terrorist’”, Mr Galloway wrote. “I was there. I saw her lips move. May she burn in the hellfires.”
He also added a separate message stating simply: “Tramp the dirt down” – the name of a 1989 song by Elvis Costello which attacks the former Prime Minister.
Responding to Mr Galloway’s initial tweet, the Daily Mail’s deputy political editor, Tim Shipman, replied: “What a stunningly unpleasant tweet.”
Former Tory MP Louise Mensch wrote: “ugh. I suppose there is no chance of not giving him the publicity that was designed to elicit.”
Former tabloid editor turned US chat show host Piers Morgan wrote on the social networking site: “To all those spewing bile and vitriol at Margaret Thatcher today – she’s dead, what more do you want? Show some respect.”
He later added “Americans would never treat the death of a President with the outrageous hateful abuse Margaret Thatcher’s getting today. Sad to see.”
Union bosses and left-wing pressure groups hit out at her “destructive” legacy.
Paul Kenny, general secretary of the GMB union, said: “Mrs Thatcher was a powerful politician who will be remembered by many for the destructive and divisive policies she reigned over.
“Her legacy involves the destruction of communities, the elevation of personal greed over social values and legitimising the exploitation of the weak by the strong.”
Peter Taaffe, the Socialist Party general secretary, said: “It is a human response to be sad when somebody dies, but many working class people will be celebrating her death because of the absolutely destructive and long lasting effect she had on the lives of millions of people. She is seen by many as a kind of modern day Genghis Khan.”
Lindsey German, convenor of the Stop The War Coalition, said Lady Thatcher should “be remembered as a warmonger”.
“She led alongside Ronald Reagan the escalation of the Cold War,” Ms German said. “She introduced cruise missiles to Britain and fought the Falklands war.”
Few tears were shed in Liverpool, where Lady Thatcher is widely held responsible for the decline of traditional industries which led to wide-spread unemployment in the early 1980s.
Liverpool Walton’s Labour MP Steve Rotheram said: “Her legacy for Liverpool, and virtually every other city and town outside of the traditional shires and rural England, was one of acute misery.”