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Gavin Haynes Sleepless Nights

Everyone Involved in the Thatcher Chart 'Ding Dong' Is a Moron

But the BBC will grant these idiots their immortality.

by Gavin Haynes
14 April 2013, 1:25pm

Britain, we have to stop doing this. After Brand-Ross, Shilpa, Plebgate and whatever Frankie Boyle said last Thursday, here we are, yet again, clustered round our wireless sets, waiting to be offended by the campaign to see Thatcher-hate represented in the Top 40. But when Jameela Jamil announces that "Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead" has been one of the best-selling songs in Britain this week, how many of those listening will actually give a shit? Everyone knows that the Chart Show is the official home of hungover New Look shoppers who were partying at Yates's last night, and children who don't know any better. Any sentient creature that spends its Sundays listening to Pink collabs and Bow-via-Ibiza pop-grime "bangers" soon becomes un-sentient. These people have no political opinions. Yet here we are, treating this countdown of shit records like it is the high altar of national debate. An altar that no one must defile. Except Pitbull. And Ne-Yo. And The Saturdays.

Unfortunately, the familiar cycle of Great British press indignation is not a process that comes with a reverse gear. Whatever happens from here on in, the one thing we can't do is "just forget about it". And so, once again, our media bosses are going to be wasting their own time squaring-off fudges and compromises to assuage the national gods of offensiveness. Tony Hall started his new job as BBC Director-General last week. Having seen his 53-day predecessor blown to bits by a passing gust of outrage, he's in no mood to stand by his principles and let public opinion be damned. So what we've had is one of the more guileful BBC fudges of recent times, in which Radio One controller Ben Cooper has defined this bit of music as a political event, not a song, and so, rather than play political event masquerading as a piece of music, he will insert a news report about it with a five-second snippet of the song, explaining and contextualising for his audience of morons and children "most of whom are too young to remember Lady Thatcher".

The Hall-Cooper compromise is a classic Beeb fudge. A super-collided worst-of-both-worlds that doesn't commit to any moral or logical argument: a guiding idea about either freedom-of-speech or good taste. But it is also bland enough to stop fatal harm coming to the careers of the top brass it is designed to protect. And that's what counts.

Which isn't to say that the duo aren't at least doing us a favour in sparing us 50 seconds of Oz. Let's not mistake this campaign for anything other than the retarded laughter of some of the most tacky people presently calling themselves British. Not since Frankie's "F.U.R.B." hit the top spot in 2004 has it been so easy to view the credit card details of the 50,000 most spiritually deaf souls in the country, cackling their tasteless dissent into an empty universe at 79p a throw. As yet there are no Facebook campaigns to get the song back to the top of the charts when stunt organiser Mark Biddis's mum dies, but maybe he should consider quite what moral equivalences he's laid himself open to. Many people disagreed with your mum, Mark. They have a right to have their voices heard.

At the same time, Britain just needs to realise it is far more robust than it thinks it is. Besides, as Jarvis has already pointed out, Maggie was not exactly shy about her feelings on capitalism. There are sellers. There are buyers. And between those two, all other busybodies should butt out. In other words: it's what she would've wanted. And that's really going to piss the campaigners off.

Meanwhile, zooming up on the outside of the farce: yet more farce. "I'm In Love With Margaret Thatcher" is now a surprise top-ten hit for no-mark 80s punks The Notsensibles. A song written with its tongue firmly in its cheek has become an anthem for the Tory mob who want a riposte. These could be the only 30,000 people in Britain dumber than their Oz-loving foes. Not only have they bought a song unrivalled in its shitness, they have also spectacularly missed the point of it. They are truly the scene that satirises itself.

Sadly, whatever Hall-Cooper decide should be done with The Notsensibles, it is already too late. "Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead" has joined the canon of BBC censorship debacles – ready to be lined up in a Mark Radcliffe-narrated BBC Four documentary alongside "God Save The Queen", "Relax", "Sing If You're Gay", and "Bandages" by Hot Hot Heat (bizarrely banned during Gulf War 2 for its unnerving references to, uh, bandages). Get ready to hear those munchkins forevermore. By even opening the door to a ban, the BBC have not ensured this is forgotten – they've opened it up to immortality.

Follow Gavin and Marta on Twitter: @hurtgavinhaynes / @MartaParszeniew

Illustration by Marta Parszeniew

Previously – How Paris Brown's "Pikey" Tweets Expose the Modern British Generation Gap

Tagged:
gavin haynes
singles
bbc
margaret thatcher
Wizard of Oz
Stuff
sleepless nights
pop charts
Jameela Jamil
Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead
Top 40
The Notsensibles
I'm in Love with Margaret Thatcher