English miners celebrate Margaret Thatcher’s death, while U.S. conservatives mourn

File photo dated 22/5/89 of Margaret Thatcher fielding questions with Foreign Secretary, Geoffrey Howe (background), at a press conference, in London.
File photo dated 22/5/89 of Margaret Thatcher fielding questions with Foreign Secretary, Geoffrey Howe (background), at a press conference, in London.
Martin Keene/Press Association via AP Images, File

Here’s what they’re saying about the death of Margaret Thatcher in one English pub:

I enjoy a good swim but if someone asked me what my favorite stroke was I’d say Maggie Thatcher’s.

You’ll find lots of other zingers (of equally questionable taste, perhaps) in a report by the Guardian about a group of South Yorkshire coal miners who got together the day Mrs Thatcher died and held “what they described as a party.” One working class tippler, still bitter over the Thatcher government’s drive to deregulate the economy and destroy the power of organized labor, suggested that the group print t-shirts saying “Thatcher’s in hell—she’s only been there a few hours and already she’s closed down the furnaces.” Elsewhere, a former labor leader said that it was “a great day for all the miners.”

There’s no question that Britain’s controversial prime minister remains more popular among certain circles in the United States than she does with many of her own countrymen. While veterans of Thatcher’s campaign against the coal miners—a struggle she herself described as a war against “the enemy within“—raise a glass to the demise of their old antagonist, conservatives in the United States seem unwilling to spare her any accolade.

She was a “rock star,” says former Vice President Dick Cheney. She left a “beautiful legacy,” according to Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert. Virginia’s House Majority Leader Republican Eric Cantor praised Thatcher for inspiring “the world to empower people and families over government.”

These tributes might have sounded strange to people who gathered in Bristol on Monday to celebrate Thatcher’s death. There were about 200 celebrants, according to the BBC, and violence broke out that left seven police officers injured. In Brixton in South London, about 150 people turned out to cheer Mrs Thatcher’s passing and mix it up with police.

So what crime did Thatcher commit, in the eyes of these demonstrators? In the words of one old coal miner:

It was class war…The people above didn’t want us to win. The people with money didn’t want us to win. If we had won, they wouldn’t be able to get away with what they are doing now, cutting benefits for disabled people and things like that. The unions would have stopped them. But we lost.

Martin Bashir dug deeper into the Thatcher legacy with Dana Milbank of the Washington Post and Ryan Grim of Huffington Post. You can watch their discussion here:

English miners celebrate Margaret Thatcher's death, while U.S. conservatives mourn