Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Thatcher funeral games 

Why are we discussing the possibility of a State Funeral for Mrs Thatcher? Such things are not part of our historic treatment of the Heads of Government in the UK. And according to the political editor of the Daily Telegraph the innovation in this case risks insulting and belittling many patriotic citizens.

Peter Osborne wrote in his blog

Clem Attlee was deputy prime minister during the Second World War, and went on to lead the Labour government which founded the National Health Service and created the modern welfare state. He was mourned at a quiet funeral at Temple Church near Westminster. Harold Macmillan was put to rest at a small service near his Sussex home.

Such modesty does not suit our self-aggrandising modern politicians.

For my part I note that the idea of a State Funeral arose during the Premiership of Gordon Brown which was when the back-stage discussions started. I wonder if Brown had ulterior motives in this – making troubles for David Cameron for example.

Peter Osborne explains why the whole idea might backfire

On (December 20th) David Farham, a former miner, had a letter published in his local newspaper, The Shields Gazette. He wrote:

“I am proud to say I was on strike for 12 months in the 1984-5 strike, when Thatcher used the full might of [the] state to defeat us. I would stand on a picket line now if it would prevent her having a state funeral. She had a near-pathological hatred of trade unions, and referred to us as the 'enemy within’, but what did we do that was so treacherous? We struck to prevent pit closures and protect jobs – with disastrous consequences. Look at the ghost towns of former pit villages which she left devastated."

Osborne says he takes the view that Thatcher was right to do what she did even with the consequences so dire. But

Mr Farham – who accurately states in his letter that there are “hundreds of thousands like me” – has every right to believe what he does. He is a British citizen just as much as the most ardent of Thatcher fans, with the proviso that, as a miner, he probably worked harder and risked more for his country than they did.

Yet the British Establishment is now planning to insult Mr Farham, and the many honest and patriotic people who agree with him, by making Lady Thatcher the first prime minister to be given a state funeral since Churchill. This cannot be right.

The whole of Osborne’s piece and the blog comments re well worth reading in full.

This raises a question in my mind.

If the national extravaganza goes ahead the consequences look likely to be embittering rather than unifying. However if Cameron blocks this he is likely to worsen the animosity towards him held by the Tory True Believers who already despise his leadership. So which bullet will he bite?

Is it up to the LibDems to defuse this Labour inspired booby trap? And perhaps inspire a return to more modest profiles for our National Leaders? The job certainly needs doing or the UK will shuffle into a completely unnecessary bout of class war shouting which will damage our current efforts to stabilise the economy. Too may people will invest in heat and invective rather than reflection and constructive arguments over possible choices now before us..

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His name is Oborne, not Osborne.
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