British police on alert for Thatcher mass 'party'



London: Hundreds of Scotland Yard officers are on stand-by in London on Saturday as protesters plan to converge on Trafalgar Square for what has been described as a mass "party" to mark Margaret Thatcher's death.

The former Conservative Prime Minister died of a stroke here on Monday aged 87. In the backdrop of preparations for her ceremonial funeral at St Paul's Cathedral next Wednesday, former miners who say the 'Iron Lady' decimated their communities will join socialists, students and anti-capitalist protesters at a demonstration against her legacy in Trafalgar Square on Saturday evening.

Scotland Yard has launched a major operation to counter threats of disorder and all further leave for officers has been cancelled and operations are being run from a special command and control operations room in Lambeth, south London. The city's mayor, Boris Johnson, issued a warning to the protesters to keep things peaceful.

"We live in a democracy where people are entitled to protest... What they can't do is use the death of an elderly person to begin riot or affray or that sort of thing. The police are obviously going to be making sure that if people do break the law they will be properly dealt with," he told LBC Radio.

The day of the protest itself has a historical twist to it, with anarchist collective Class War declaring two decades ago that there should be a gathering at Trafalgar Square at 6 pm on the first Saturday after Thatcher's death.

In 1994, even stickers and posters were printed promoting the event. "As one of the few Class Warriors still about, I thought it was my duty to speak up on behalf of the event," said campaigner Ian Bone.

According to the 'Guardian', protesters are expected to descend upon the iconic London square from Brighton, Bristol, Cardiff, Leeds, Doncaster and Norwich.

Today's demonstration is being promoted through various Facebook groups and gathered momentum as the row over Thatcher's deeply divisive legacy turned increasingly vocal, with some objecting to the nearly 10 million pounds cost of a grand funeral.

The BBC was forced to defend its decision not to play in full a song at the centre of an anti-Thatcher campaign on one of its prime chart shows on Radio 1.

Sales of the song, Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead from The Wizard of Oz - the 1939 musical starring Judy Garland, have soared since Lady Thatcher's death.

Britain's first and only female premier has always been one of the country's most polarising figures, with tributes to her many achievements often overshadowed by some of her harsh economic policies.

Meanwhile, her daughter Carol spoke for the first time of her overwhelming grief. "It's a deeply sad and rather thought-provoking landmark in life. My mother once said to me 'Carol, I think my place in history is assured'. The magnificent tributes this week, the wonderful words of President Obama, to others from colleagues who once worked alongside her, have proved her right.

An enormous personal thank you to all the people who have sent me messages of sympathy and support. These have given me strength," she said, speaking outside the family home in Belgravia, central London.

Over 2,000 invitations have been dispatched yesterday for the funeral next week, where Prime Minister David Cameron will read a lesson with the Queen and Prince Philip among the confirmed guests.

It was announced yesterday that MPs and peers would be able to visit the former prime minister's coffin in Parliament's Chapel of St Mary Undercroft on the eve of her funeral and around 100 people will also be invited to a short service led by the Dean of Westminster welcoming Lady Thatcher's body.

Downing Street said Lady Thatcher had requested her body rest overnight in the chapel, and the Queen had given her consent.

PTI