Less concerned with who’s first up against the wall than with how to decorate it

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Jack Graham

Jack Graham writes and podcasts about culture and politics from a Gothic Marxist-Humanist perspective. He co-hosts the I Don't Speak German podcast with Daniel Harper. Support Jack on Patreon.


  1. Kit Power
    October 6, 2016 @ 11:28 am

    Love this. Thank you.


  2. jim5et
    October 6, 2016 @ 12:21 pm

    She only snatched the milk from kids >7 (I checked as I also remember school milk from the late ’70s.)

    On the wider point I agree, though I think the use of the song was more about it being the only populist celebrate-the-death-of-a-monster tune than specifically about thatch=witch.


    • Jack Graham
      October 6, 2016 @ 12:26 pm

      Oh that’s right. I was in ‘junior school’ in time. Not that I got milk. I was hypoglycemic and the doctors said I had to have orange juice… which has probably contributed to my lifelong addiction to sugar. I’ll always remember the little blue plastic crate being brought into class by whoever was ‘milk monitor’ that day, with one orange bottle amongst the white ones.


      • David Faggiani
        October 6, 2016 @ 1:50 pm

        Hah! Talk about formative experiences.


    • phuzz
      October 6, 2016 @ 4:23 pm

      When I was at primary school in the early 80’s, another of the local schools still had morning milk, but I assume it was paid for by parents and probably straight from one of the local dairies.
      I remember being a bit jealous when we went round there for some occasion (can’t remember why).


  3. Jane
    October 6, 2016 @ 12:25 pm

    As someone who actively practiced the Craft (in the Reclaiming style, no less) back in the day, thank you for this, Jack.


    • Jack Graham
      October 6, 2016 @ 12:28 pm

      Means a lot to me that you feel that way.


  4. David Faggiani
    October 6, 2016 @ 1:52 pm

    I grew up in Manchester, but I live in London now, and was in London in 2013 the day Thatcher died. An event I obviously knew was going to happen one day. It still felt very odd.

    It was a very weird experience for me. I walked down to Trafalgar Square, and went into a pub, and heard people saying… mixed things about her. Which is not the take I would have got back home…


    • Jack Graham
      October 6, 2016 @ 2:00 pm

      Where I have to live, most people were very bummed-out.


  5. Bumface
    October 6, 2016 @ 3:12 pm

    No ‘divisive’s in the explanation, but a ‘she strongly divided political and public opinion’, followed by a ‘Much like Margaret Thatcher’s political career, this song has again divided opinion’.

    There’s a recording of the broadcast here:



    • Jack Graham
      October 6, 2016 @ 3:51 pm

      Okay, well, I think ‘divided’ is close enough, and intend to keep all my remaining internal organs.


  6. Anton B
    October 6, 2016 @ 7:19 pm

    Nothing to add but praise. Even though I did cheer at the news of her demise I too felt very uncomfortable with the whole ‘Ding dong the Witch is dead’ phenomenon. Not only because co-opting the word Witch in this way is akin to using the N word to attack a racist but in the same way I felt uncomfortable about the 2009 Rage Against the Machine publicity drive to prevent The X Factor winner’s song from gaining the Christmas number one. These social media fuelled ‘anti-establishment’ campaigns are not much removed from Orwell’s ‘2 Minute Hate’ ritual in 1984. We can all be entertained and feel smugly anarchic for a few minutes as we blow a collective raspberry at our leaders like so many lords of misrule.

    It’s bread and circuses isn’t it?

    On the subject of school milk. I remember it was a teacher’s pet’s privilege to be rewarded the role of Milk Monitor but on a hot summers day the little bottles of milk were usually rancid by the time we got to break time. So I wasn’t that bothered by Thatch taking them away. I do remember protesting about it as a young art student and merrily joining in the chants of “Mrs Thatcher Milk Snatcher!” Just as I would later, as a long- term unemployed victim of her policies, shout “Maggie Maggie Maggie out out out!”.


    • Sleepyscholar
      October 7, 2016 @ 4:11 am

      I’d have said more ‘carnivalesque’ than ‘bread and circuses’.

      The question is whether this really was like the 2-minute hate, or whether it was a spontaneous expression of people’s feelings — an expression that broke the establishment’s boundaries for how the media is supposed to work.

      Which is not to say that Jack is wrong — he’s 100% right.

      I was wondering what would have been a preferable replacement? I quite like the idea of repurposing that hymn with the words ‘Rejoice! Rejoice!’, which has the advantage of referencing one of her more egregious utterances while appropriating and subverting the whole ‘Songs of Praise’ ideology, but that would probably be a bit too oblique for the desired cathartic effect.


      • Daibhid C
        October 20, 2016 @ 1:13 pm

        An idea that my mother and people on Twitter came up with independently was “Tramp the Dirt Down” by Elvis Costello, since that’s actually what it’s about.


  7. Tom Marshall
    October 6, 2016 @ 8:26 pm

    Terrific piece. Thanks.


  8. Eric Rosenfield
    October 8, 2016 @ 3:11 pm

    Just a note that Songs of Praise isn’t the longest running TV show in history. Meet the Press started in 1947, among other…


    • Jack Graham
      October 10, 2016 @ 7:52 am



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