It has been called “a state funeral on the sly”, and Wednesday’s £10 million-worth of ceremonies for Baroness Thatcher has even been decried by a senior columnist in the Daily Torygraph.
What is becoming increasingly clear is that David Cameron, with his Conservative party trailing by 10 per cent in opinion polls, seems determined to milk public sympathy for the death of an old lady and general ignorance of the history of the 1980s, in a desperate effort for his party’s political gain.
This weekend, Croydon Tory party members have even been urged to line the streets of central London for the procession, a manipulative stunt that is worthy of Pyongyang.
What began as undertones of politicisation of the death of the Blessed Margaret has become more blatant as the week has progressed.
Why else would Cameron recall parliament, at considerable unnecessary public expense, for “tributes” to be paid to Thatcher, and therefore by default, to his Conservative party?
When Sir Winston Churchill died, the party leaders said their respectful bits, and that was it, all over in less than an hour. Yet last week, Cameron indulged in a saccharine-sweet seven-hour love-in of a Conservative leader who was so unpopular among her MP colleagues that by the end of her term that she was ousted by her own cabinet.
Rather than speak ill of the dead, many Labour MPs opted to stay away on Wednesday. Woe betide anyone who dared utter anything other than praise of the dear departed leader. Thank goodness, then, for Glenda – whose speech has received more than 1 million visits on YouTube in a matter of a few days.
The utter hypocrisy over Thatcher’s death, and life, from the Conservative party this week has reached Orwellian levels of news management, and has translated elsewhere.
The BBC, cowed by allegations from the Daily Wail of its “left-wing bias” (What? With Nick Robinson as political editor? And with former Tory party chairman Fat Pang as the BBC Trust’s chairman? Seriously?? Puhleez!), has not only decided to pervert the week’s Chart Show over Ding! Dong! The Witch is Dead, but they have distorted their news values by failing to report an anti-Thatcher mass protest in Trafalgar Square yesterday.
It is often claimed that Thatcher herself requested not to have a state funeral. If any such request was made, it will have been done in the sure knowledge that for a state funeral to be granted requires parliamentary approval. Would that really have been forthcoming?
In a typically trenchant piece on Thursday, the Torygraph‘s Peter Oborne wrote: “The official line from Buckingham Palace and Downing Street is that Margaret Thatcher is not being granted a state funeral… If something looks, smells and tastes like a state funeral, then it is reasonable to conclude that it is one. The truth is that Lady Thatcher is getting very similar treatment to Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997 or the Queen Mother in 2002.”
A state funeral ought to be just that: a state occasion in which the nation can unite in grief. When Churchill’s coffin processed down the Thames in 1965, the London dockers dipped their cranes in respect. It is a fair guess that no such gesture would be made by any group of workers – save, perhaps, City bankers – for Thatcher.
Yet the Conservatives seem determined to turn Wednesday’s funeral into an event to boost their ratings.
Grant Shapps, the vacuous chairman of the Tory party, sent this in an email to Croydon members on Friday:
“Lots of people have asked how they too can get involved and pay their respects. Next Wednesday, Party supporters and all those who have been inspired by Lady Thatcher, or who have had their lives touched by her enduring legacy, have their opportunity to pay tribute by lining the route of her coffin…
“…Please arrive early as significant crowds are expected.
“This will be a unique and very special occasion. I encourage all Party supporters – and all Margaret Thatcher supporters – to make every effort to come to London and pay your own respects to her memory by lining the Procession route. I can think of no better way to show our profound gratitude.”
By turning a state occasion into a party political one, have the Conservatives effectively legitimised the protests against Thatcher by other groups?
It certainly makes the case against the funeral being paid for by the country all the stronger. The Tax Payers Alliance has been oddly quiet on this one…
- Inside Croydon: For comment and analysis about Croydon, from inside Croydon
- Post your comments on this article below. If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, a residents’ or business association or local event, please email us with full details at email@example.com
- Thatcher Funeral: Most Brits Oppose Paying (news.sky.com)
- This lovefest for Margaret Thatcher spells trouble for David Cameron | Jonathan Freedland (guardian.co.uk)