Often, people end up glossing over the flaws of the recently departed, coating eulogies in a thick gloss sheen.
Morrissey is not one of those people.
The iconic indie rocker Monday released a scathing op-ed, written for The Daily Beast, about the passing of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, calling her “a terror without an atom of humanity.”
“Every move she made was charged by negativity,” the singer charges. “She destroyed the British manufacturing industry, she hated the miners, she hated the arts, she hated the Irish Freedom Fighters and allowed them to die, she hated the English poor and did nothing at all to help them, she hated Greenpeace and environmental protectionists, she was the only European political leader who opposed a ban on the ivory trade, she had no wit and no warmth and even her own cabinet booted her out.”
Thatcher reigned in the U.K. from 1979 through 1990. That period encompassed the rise, stardom and fall of Morrissey’s band The Smiths, a group that often sneered at aristocratic power. Included on Morrissey’s first solo album, “Viva Hate,” was a song called “Margaret on the Guillotine,” which asked of Thatcher, “When will you die?”
Perhaps ironically for someone who cut funding from the arts, Thatcher inspired an entire generation of punk and new wave artists, providing the perfect heel for the anger that began to bubble up in the late 1970s. Though she took over from a Labour government that had been in power during the initial wave of punk, her conservative economic policies (and forays into the Falklands) embittered the industrial north and social liberals.
Paul Weller’s second band (after The Jam), Style Council, expressly took on Thatcher’s government after its 1982 formation. “It wasn’t a time to be non partisan,” Weller told MOJO Magazine in 2006. “It was too serious a time, too extreme. I wasn’t waving the Labour party flag but the socialist red flag that’s for sure. In The Jam I didn’t want to be a part of any movement. But this was different.
Thatcher got into power in 1979, and from the Falklands war onwards, that was her wielding her power, the trade unions were being worn down, we had the miners strike, there was mass unemployment, there were all these issues, you had to care and if you didn’t, you had your head in the sand or didn’t give a f— about anyone but yourself. You couldn’t sit on the fence. It was very black and white then. Thatcher was a tyrant, a dictator.”