* Wicked Witch song hit charts after Facebook campaign
* Latest protest over Thatcher legacy following death
* More demonstrations expected at her funeral on Wednesday
By Michael Holden
LONDON, April 14 A campaign by opponents of late
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to get the song "Ding Dong! The
Witch Is Dead" to the top of the British pop charts to celebrate
her death failed on Sunday although it did manage to reach
Thatcher, who died aged 87 on Monday, deeply divided Britons
and while some have paid warm tributes to the achievements of
her right-wing Conservative governments, others said her
privatisation of swathes of industry had destroyed communities.
That opposition was manifested in a Facebook campaign to
propel the witch song, from the 1939 film "The Wizard of Oz", to
number one in the charts, provoking anger from politicians of
all parties, right-leaning media, and members of the public.
The Official Charts Company said 52,605 copies of the song
had been sold, but that was about 6,000 shy of the chart-topping
track "Need U" by British DJ Duke Dumont and singer A*M*E.
The top 40 best-selling singles are played weekly on BBC
Radio but the broadcaster said on Friday it would only pay a
five-second clip of the song as part of a news item, leading to
accusations it had caved into political pressure.
"I understand the concerns about this campaign. I personally
believe it is distasteful and inappropriate," BBC
Director-General Tony Hall said in a statement.
"However, I do believe it would be wrong to ban the song
outright as free speech is an important principle."
Meanwhile, a rival campaign by the former premier's
supporters to promote the 1979 single "I'm In Love With Margaret
Thatcher" by punk band the Notsensibles fared less well,
debuting in 35th place after sales of 8,768.
Since the death of the "Iron Lady", many of the divisions
which characterised her time in office from 1979 to 1990 have
In addition to the witch song campaign, several hundred
people held a "party" to mark her death in central London,
chanting, drinking champagne, and waving an effigy of the leader
More protests are expected on Wednesday when a ceremonial
funeral with military honours is held at St Paul's Cathedral
after her coffin is taken on a procession through central London
- a tribute usually reserved for senior royal family members.
"This needs to be a fitting event for a very great lady,"
Francis Maude, a minister who served under Thatcher and is
responsible for the ceremony's arrangements, told Sky News.
"It's a free country and people must obviously be free to
express their views. I would simply ask that they respect the
wishes of the mourners of which there will be very many for this
event to take place in a dignified and seemly way."
But the cost to the public purse of the ceremony, estimated
by commentators at 10 million pounds ($15.4 million), has been
widely criticised at a time the Conservative-led coalition
government is making deep spending cuts to cut a budget deficit.
According to a poll, 60 percent of those surveyed thought it
should not be funded by taxpayers. Tim Ellis, the Anglican
Bishop of Grantham, the eastern English town where Thatcher was
brought up, said the grand ceremony was unwise.
"In a context where there is great ill-feeling ... about her
legacy, to then actually have a situation where we seem to be
expecting the nation to glorify that with a 10 million pound
funeral, I think any sensible person would say that's asking for
trouble," he told BBC TV.
Police have said they are prepared for any trouble which
could come from anti-capitalists and anarchists with a long
record of violent protest in the British capital.
David Ison, the Dean of St. Paul's who will officiate at the
ceremony, said he could understand "the hurt and the anger that
people want to express about the legacy" but said her funeral
should be respected.
"Mrs Thatcher is not a witch or a monster," he told BBC TV.
"She's a human being like the rest of us and part of what of we
need to do in a funeral is put things aside."
($1 = 0.6507 British pounds)
(Editing by Jon Hemming)