A protester wears a t-shirt with an image of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher with the slogan 'Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead' during an anti-Thatcher rally in George Square in Glasgow, Scotland. (PHOTO CREDIT: Andy Buchanan/AFP/Getty Images)
A campaign by opponents of late Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to get the song "Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead" to the top of the British pop charts to celebrate her death failed on Sunday although it did manage to reach second place.
Thatcher, who died aged 87 last Monday, deeply divided Britons and while some have paid warm tributes to the achievements of her right-wing Conservative governments, others said her privatization of swathes of industry had destroyed communities.
That opposition was manifested in a Facebook campaign to propel the witch song, from the 1939 film "The Wizard of Oz," to No. 1 in the charts, provoking anger from politicians of all parties, right-leaning media, and members of the public.
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The Official Charts Company said 52,605 copies of the song had been sold, but that was about 6,000 shy of the chart-topping track "Need U" by British DJ Duke Dumont and singer A*M*E.
The top 40 best-selling singles are played weekly on BBC Radio but the broadcaster said on Friday it would only pay a five-second clip of the song as part of a news item, leading to accusations it had caved into political pressure.
"I understand the concerns about this campaign. I personally believe it is distasteful and inappropriate," BBC Director-General Tony Hall said in a statement.
"However, I do believe it would be wrong to ban the song outright as free speech is an important principle."
Meanwhile, a rival campaign by the former premier's supporters to promote the 1979 single "I'm In Love With Margaret Thatcher" by punk band the Notsensibles fared less well, debuting in 35th place after sales of 8,768.
Since the death of the "Iron Lady", many of the divisions which characterized her time in office from 1979 to 1990 have resurfaced.