BBC plays 10 seconds of anti-Thatcher song in ‘fudge’ of free speech, explains why

A BBC radio show that plays out the weekly hit list has only played two 5 second clips of the song ‘Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead’ for fear of offending people in what is being seen as a compromise to free speech.

Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead has reached the number two spot in the music chart. A rival song ‘I'm In Love With Margaret Thatcher’ entered charts in 35th place.

The controversial song is only 51-second in full but the explanation of how it got in to the chart ran for over 90 seconds.

Sales of the song from the 1939 musical have soared since the death of the former Prime Minister last Monday. Within 48 hours of her death, the song had climbed to number 10 in the official UK chart. All top 40 bestselling tracks must be featured on the BBC Radio One official chart show every Sunday, which has pushed the BBC into a decision on the matter.

Critics say the song, which originated from the film the Wizard of Oz, is offensive and should not be played.

But others, including Lady Thatcher’s supporters, say offensive or not, banning it is against freedom of speech and Thatcher herself would have preferred it played rather than censored.

“I think it is in poor taste, but I don’t think that’s a reason not to play it. I think we should uphold the right to free speech and that includes the right to offend people. As a conservative and as somebody who greatly admired Margaret Thatcher, I absolutely stand fast to the principle that something shouldn’t be banned because people find it offensive,” Toby Young, author and journalist, told RT.

"The right of free speech, if it means anything, includes the right to offend people. If conservatives want this song banned on the grounds of taste and decency it will be a hostage to fortune because there are plenty of things that conservatives will want to say in future, which the BBC may ban on similar grounds,” he said.

Young believes that Margaret Thatcher herself would not have been in favor of banning it.

I don’t think Margaret Thatcher herself would have wanted this song banned, after all she stood up for freedom. She took some satisfaction when her opponents attacked her personally and stooped to low vulgar tactics like this because it meant they had no other arguments left because she had beaten them in open debate.”

Young believes the BBC decision to only play 5 seconds of the song represents an awkward compromise.

“I think it’s a bit of a fudge, I think the BBC should play the song in full,” he said.

He added that supports and admirers of Lady Thatcher have launched a counter attack and are buying a song called ‘I’m in love with Margaret Thatcher’ by the Not Sensibles and are hoping that it will beat ‘ding dong the witch is dead’ to the number one spot.