Margaret Thatcher served as the prime minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990. Nicknamed the Iron Lady, Thatcher was known for her steadfast conservative politics. Thatcher’s term coincided with a boom in English music in the wake of the punk movement, and much of this music harshly criticized her policies or straight up attacked her on a personal level. Bands tapped into the atmosphere of anger and discontent in Thatcher’s England, singing about everything from high unemployment rates to the Falklands War.
1. The Not Sensibles, “I’m in Love with Margaret Thatcher” (1979)
Though most songs about Thatcher make her out to be a villain, this song, released shortly after she was elected to office, is rather lighthearted and tongue-in-cheek.
2. The English Beat, “Stand Down Margaret” (1980)
Two-tone ska legends The Beat were among the first to condemn Thatcher in song with this cut from their album I Just Can’t Stop It.
3. The Blues Band, “Maggie’s Farm” (1980)
This tune rewrites Bob Dylan’s “Maggie’s Farm” — itself a rewrite of the folk standard “Penny’s Farm” — as a commentary on Thatcher’s government.
4. The Specials, “Ghost Town” (1981)
Another ska classic about Thatcher. “This town’s becoming like a ghost town / Government leaving the youth on the shelf.”
5. Poison Girls, “Another Hero” (1981)
“Maggie Thatcher’s patching up her makeup in the broken glass.” From the album Total Exposure.
6. Klaus Nomi, “Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead” (1982)
NYC-based New Wave eccentric Nomi turned a song from The Wizard of Oz into a commentary on Thatcher’s politics.
7. Newtown Neurotics, “Kick Out The Tories” (1982)
This underrated punk band’s third single focused on working-class struggles in Thatcher’s Britain.
8. Pink Floyd, “The Fletcher Memorial Home” (1983)
Roger Waters envisions “The Fletcher Memorial Home for Incurable Tyrants and Kings” in this song from The Final Cut, naming Margaret Thatcher as one of the tyrants in residence.
9. The Varukers, “Thatcher’s Fortress” (1984)
Fast and loud, The Varukers rage against Thatcher in this cut from their Massacred Millions EP.
10. The Larks, “Maggie Maggie Maggie (Out Out Out)” (1985)
“MAGGIEMAGGIEMAGGIE, OUT OUT OUT!”
This charged punk anthem is based on the English Miner’s Strike protest chant, “Maggie Out,” and is featured on the Miners’ Benefit LP Here We Go.
11. Crass, “How Does It Feel?” (1986)
These anarcho-punk legends are famous for their scathing critiques of Thatcher’s regime, and this song from Best Before 1984 is a prime example. “How does it feel to be the mother of a thousand dead?”
12. Thatcher on Acid, “Guess Who’s Running the Show” (1987)
Formed in 1983, this anarcho-punk group chose to reference Thatcher explicitly in their band’s name.
13. Morrissey, “Margaret on the Guillotine” (1988)
This song from Morrissey’s debut solo album Viva Hate, which calls for Thatcher’s death, made him the subject of an official investigation by British police.
14. Elvis Costello, “Tramp the Dirt Down” (1989)
Costello fantasizes about stomping on Thatcher’s grave in this harshly condemning cut from Spike, singing “And when they finally lay you in the ground / I’ll stand on your grave and tramp the dirt down.”
15. Kitchens of Distinction, “Margaret’s Injection” (1989)
“Never relished violence, but Margaret, it’s time for your injection.” From the album Love is Hell.
16. Sinead O’Connor, “Black Boys on Mopeds” (1990)
This sobering song from I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got digs at Thatcher in its opening verse, before going on to assert that “England’s not the mythical land of Madame George and roses.”
17. VIM, “Maggie’s Last Party” (1991)
Thatcher’s own words are used for a darkly comic effect on this ironic rave track.
18. Billy Bragg, “Thatcherites” (1996)
Billy Bragg comments on Thatcher’s legacy in this song released after she left office, which jabs at succeeding Prime Minister John Major. “Your leader she has gone, but she’s left us little John.”
19. Hefner, “The Day that Thatcher Dies” (2000)
“We will laugh the day that Thatcher dies, even though it’s not right,” Darren Hayman sings in this song, which went on to become one of his band’s most famous tunes. This song also calls back to “Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead.”
20. Frank Turner, “Thatcher Fucked the Kids” (2006)
Turner reckons with the lasting influence of Thatcher in this cut from Campfire Punkrock singing, “Blame the folks who sold the future for the highest bid / That’s right, Thatcher fucked the kids.”
21. Pete Wylie, “The Day that Margaret Thatcher Dies” (2011)
Not to be confused with the Hefner song of the same name, this party-rock tune revels in its hatred for the former prime minister: “She’s gone! And nobody cried!”