Anyone who’s seen the 2000 film version of Billy Elliot will know that there’s little love lost for Margaret Thatcher, the ‘villain’ behind the 1984 Miners’ Strike that provides the story’s backdrop. The stage musical, which has today received rave reviews after last night’s press performance at the West End’s Victoria Palace (See Today’s News), goes even more directly for the jugular. Lee Hall’s lyrics for “Merry Christmas Maggie Thatcher”, the Elton John ditty that opens the second act, has the cast, dressed in Iron Lady drag and wielding Spitting Image-style puppets, singing to the former Prime Minister, “We all celebrate today/ Cos it’s one day closer to your death.” Thatcher’s one-time deputy Michael Heseltine gets a rough ride, too, as girls in tutus croon “On my darling, O my darling/ O my darling Heseltine / You’re a tosser You’re a wanker / And you’re just a Tory Swine.” The Conservatives aren’t alone at the butt end of a joke either. During the same scene at the Miners’ Christmas party, the emcee announces that guest speaker Dennis Skinner will be replaced by “a smashing young lad wots gonna come and talk to us. He's a local MP and he's only been in Parliament a couple of year. He's a firebrand, he's a radical, and he's shaking the Labour Party right back to its Socialist roots. … Tony Blair. And he's gonna come and talk to us on the subject of 'the bullet or the ballot box: what future for revolutionary socialism in the Labour Party'. So get there early because those tickets are gonna go like stotty cakes.” The politics of the musical doesn’t seem to have put off all politicians. Amongst the guests expected at tonight’s star-studded gala is old Labour stalwart John Prescott.
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