Just as Chumbawamba promised, my copy of their EP, ‘In Memoriam’ arrived in a little CD envelope less than 24 hours after the death of Margaret Thatcher was been announced on 8 April.
The speed of the delivery says as much for the organizing capacities of the Leeds-based agit-prop-folk-punk group, which had the CDs pressed and ready to go for four years, as it does for the efficiency of the Royal Mail. I’m pleased to have it – a reminder of youthful bile and passion as well as sadness.
Yet I haven’t played the CD yet. Not because I disapprove of it – I don’t. I paid my advance fee of £5 ($8.70) happily for it a few years ago. But where once we fought against a person, now we fight an ideology and the inhumanity of Thatcherism which has become the norm.
Simply, Thatcher was bad, but her toxic children – David Cameron and George Osborne and their ilk – are even worse.
In 2009 I wrote a piece about anti-Margaret Thatcher music for this blog and interviewed Chumbawamba. It was fun thinking about anti-Thatcher songs and the communities that the songs themselves inspired. (I forgot, inexplicably, Elvis Costello’s ‘Tramp the Dirt Down’. Sorry, Elvis.)
On Sunday 14 April, it looks as if ‘Ding, Dong, the Witch Is Dead’, from The Wizard of Oz will enter Britain’s singles chart in the top five. In the Judy Garland film from which it comes, the song is one of joyful celebration and release from tyranny. (Let’s not dwell on the misogynist implications of the witch word or the conflation of munchkins with workers.) No one should ever need an excuse to listen to a good Judy song, but right now I’m wondering what there is to celebrate.