T-shirts celebrating the prospects of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher dying have been withdrawn from a stall at conference of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) in Derbyshire.
According to a report in the Daily Telegraph newspaper, the shirts cost £10 each and featured a slogan declaring that union members will "dance on [Thatcher’s] grave" when she passes away.
The spectacle was quickly condemned by both Brendan Barber, the TUC’s general secretary (who called them "tasteless and totally inappropriate") and the leader of the Labour Party Ed Miliband (who reportedly "deplored these sentiments.”)
Conservative MPs also attacked the shirts and the sentiments behind them.
Conor Burns told the Telegraph: “These sickening sentiments speak to something disordered in the human condition. It shows an ugly side to the hard left who cannot move on from their utter defeat at the hands of this remarkable, but now frail, lady. Not for the first time Lady [Thatcher] shows why she amounts to so much more than her opponents.”
Another Tory MP, Aidan Burley, declared: “This sick merchandise tells you all you need to know about some in the union movement -- baseless, cowardly and utterly devoid of morality.”
Colin Hampton, from the Derbyshire Unemployed Workers' Centre, who operated the stall, told the Telegraph that he had sold the anti-Thatcher memorabilia to purchasers from as far away as Singapore, Thailand, and Belgium.
"I am not wanting Thatcher to die," he said. "But when she dies, there will be a reaction."
Hampton added: "The TUC asked me to take the T-shirts down so I have said yes. I realize they are not to everyone's taste. We have merely tried to use Thatcher's entrepreneurial spirit to raise funding for unemployed workers who desperately need it."
Dan Hodges, a Labour Party supporter, also criticized the T-shirts in a column in the Telegraph.
“T-shirts glorying in the death of Mrs. Thatcher are sick,” he wrote.
“Taking out your political frustrations on an ailing pensioner is cowardly. And the whole exercise is utterly devoid of any morality.”
However The Telegraph noted that although the t-shirts were removed, other shops at the conference sold out of other items, including balloons and fireworks that are designed to be deployed when the 87-year-old Baroness dies.
Other t-shirts and coffee mugs bearing the slogan "I still hate Thatcher" are on display at the TUC annual conference in Brighton.
Thatcher earned the unending enmity of British trade unions and the far left during the 1980s when her government implemented harsh laws against strikes and tried to drastically reduce the power of unions.
Thatcher’s most contentious battle against unions involved the coal miners – after the National Coal Board planned to close 20 mines and lay off 20,000 jobs, the National Union of Mineworkers called a massive strike.
The union eventually lost as Thatcher refused to meet any of their demands. Ultimately, 150 coal mines were closed and tens of thousands of jobs were lost.
Palash has worked as a business journalist for 21 years in New York.