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Thatcher's Death Opens Old Wounds

4/17/2013, 9 p.m.
Courtesy Photo

Margaret Thatcher is dead and Marjorie Anne Buckley-Jones isn't sorry.

In the 10 days since Britain's first woman prime minister succumbed to a stroke, Buckley-Jones said she has been awash in awful memories of the Thatcherite era.

"I lived it. I lived through the Poll Tax riots, the winter of discontent, unemployment and rubbish piling up on the streets," said Buckley-Jones during a telephone interview from her Manchester, England home. "People high up have selective memories. They choose to forget that she brought this country to its knees. Maggie was not for poor people but she was for self-serving, fly-by-night, stab-you-in-the-back, gold-teeth stealing people. I cheered when she died."

While her comments are blunt, raw, and emotional, Buckley-Jones' remarks represent some widely held feelings across a spectrum of Britain's populace. Few people are on the fence when it comes to opinions about the "Iron Lady" and critics like Buckley-Jones have stepped forward to voice their anger toward Thatcher's policies.

"If you listen to the media over here, and not go to the grassroots, you'd think this woman was a saint," said Buckley-Jones, 55. "You have to know that something's up. I fully expect a riot Wednesday [at her funeral]. People are vexed. [Prime Minister David] Cameron said we should respect the dead but why? They're already trying to rewrite history."

Buckley-Jones said Thatcher started working early to cement her dubious legacy and earned the nickname "Maggie the School Milk Snatcher" for ending the program that offered milk and vitamins to poor schoolchildren in 1971, when she was the Minister of Education. Thatcher served as prime minister from 1979 until 1990.

Baroness Thatcher's death has ignited impassioned exchanges on the street, the media, on Facebook and other social media. In Brixton and Bristol last week, and Central London this past weekend, revelers gathered at death "parties" celebrating Thatcher's passing. Hundreds of jovial people met at Trafalgar Square to dance, sing and chant epithets at a woman who Britons either loved or loathed for polices that everyone acknowledges produced massive unemployment, privatized large segments of the economy and routed trade unions. Some carried banners saying, "Rot in hell Thatcher" and "Maggie, Maggie, Maggie. Dead. Dead. Dead." Others sipped champagne, lit sparklers and party poppers and burned Thatcher in effigy. Elsewhere, graffiti on a wall in a widely distributed photograph said: "Iron Lady, Rust in Peace."

David Milloyd Deans said these celebratory displays are unfortunate and unnecessary.

"I didn't agree with everything she did but there will be no other. Everyone who's talking now was afraid of her when she was alive. There was a horrible side of her but she was a mother, wife, a grandmother and she had a soft personality. I saw that in private moments."

"As a human being and a Christian, I will forgive and forget. [What they're doing] for me is a little disrespectful. But you cannot stop people who [feel] wrath toward her. I don't like it but it's not going to stop. May she rest in peace."