V&A’s controversial Thatcher comment

Outrage at museum's Thatcher comment

The V&A Museum, London. Credit: Diliff/Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0

The V&A Museum has caused controversy over a controversial display which labelled Margaret Thatcher as a ‘contemporary villain’ in the same breath as Hitler and Bin Laden.

The museum in South Kensington is currently holding an exhibition on British humour and faced a severe backlash for its appraisal of former British PM Margaret Thatcher.

The V&A Museum’s exhibition is entitled: ‘Laughing Matters: The State of a Nation,’ it goes on to explain what visitors can expect to see: ‘This display reflects on the role of humour in debates around identity, empire and power over the past two hundred years.

‘Through over 30 objects, ranging from costumes to scripts, from puppets to music, this display unpicks the punchlines to discover what humour since the Victorian era – whether subversive, surreal, mocking or celebratory – can tell us about what it means to be British today.’

The recent controversy surrounds a collection of Punch and Judy dolls. Beneath the display, an information card reads: ‘Over the years, the evil character in this seaside puppet show has shifted from the Devil to unpopular public figures.’

The card goes on to list some alternative portrayals used in the traditional puppet show, ‘. . .including Adolf Hitler, Margaret Thatcher and Osama Bin Laden, to offer contemporary villains.’

This inclusion sparked immediate criticism, highlighting the museum’s choice of characters for this narrative.

Political reactions

The critique was particularly strong from members of the Conservative Party. According to The Standard, Sir Connor Burns, MP for Bournemouth, expressed his dismay bluntly: ‘Whoever wrote that caption should be called out publicly for being a moron, or perhaps more usefully sent to read a Ladybird book of modern world history.’

In addition, former Conservative leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith labelled the comparison as ‘ill thought’ and ‘mendacious’, emphasising the inappropriateness of the analogy.

Museum’s response

Acknowledging the controversy, a spokesperson for the V&A announced that the museum would reconsider the text of the exhibition.

‘The V&A is always open to feedback from our visitors,’ they stated. ‘In response to some concerns around a caption in the Punch and Judy case of our Laughing Matters display – telling the story of British satire and comedy – we will review the relevant label text and update the wording if necessary.’

The museum’s director is Tristram Hunt, a former Labour MP, faced criticism in the past for turning down the offer to display some of Margaret Thatcher’s personal items, saying it preferred  objects of ‘outstanding aesthetic or technical quality.’

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. Do remember to come back and check The Euro Weekly News website for all your up-to-date local and international news stories and remember, you can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.


    • Robert Faraday

      22 March 2024 • 13:06

      I bet the only people who were complaining were voters from the blue party.

      Remind me; what was the song that was top of the music charts when She died, Ding Dong the w….

    Comments are closed.