What was it about Thatcher that inspired so many British musicians? To find out, Morning Edition spoke with British author, journalist and music critic Stuart Maconie, who says the different areas of Britain responded differently to the Thatcher era.
“In London and the South, which was more affluent and more her natural constituency, it had the effect of producing a kind of apolitical response,” Maconie says. “You got the New Romantics, and you got a kind of bright and shiny, aspirational pop — a padded-shouldered version of pop — that was about nightclubs, about dressing up, about going out.”
In the North of England and in Scotland, Maconie says, the response to Thatcher was more defiant. The English Beat’s “Stand Down Margaret” took a confrontational tack, urging Thatcher to resign. Morrissey made things personal, closing his 1988 solo debut Viva Hate with a track called “Margaret on the Guillotine.”
“It wasn’t just a political response; it was a kind of gut emotional response,” Maconie says. “In the north of England, the effects of Thatcherism were quite visible: Factories closed down, mills closed down, mines closed down, and people were put out of work. And of course, you’ve got to argue, she was an easy person to become a figurehead. She even looked like she should be on the prow of a ship.”
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