Sunday, August 13, 2006

Maggie's Funeral

In the past week there has been a bit of a fuss about whether Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven a.k.a. Maggie a.k.a. Attilla the Hen a.k.a. The Iron Lady (and those are the epithets that pro and anti Thatcherites can agree on) should have a state funeral when she dies.
It's well covered here, here, and here.
For me the question is not whether she caused three million to go unemployed, a cycle of economic boom and bust with the price of housing sky rocketing in the late eighties, the Poll Tax, decimation of sections of British industry, attacking economic sanctions against the then apartheid ridden South Africa, amongst other things. No, I think to refuse her a funeral for those reasons would be petty.
For me the question is, does she qualify with the unwritten criteria. For example the only Prime Ministers to be given a state funeral were the Duke of Wellington and Sir Winston Churchill. Men who stood by our nation during some of it's darkest hours. I suppose you could say "The Cold War", but is that the same thing?
However, Gladstone was allowed to lie in state in Westminster Hall after his death, and that might well be appropriate. But why did Gladstone qualify for this? Was it his age? His longevity at the top of British politics? If the Iron Lady lives for another ten plus years she deserves the accolade. But then why not Harold Macmillan, or Harold Wilson (he led the Labour Party for thirteen years and if you add his time of office at No 10 together (1964-1970 and 1974-1976), then he was PM for seven and a half years). Come to think of it, the current Prime Minister has been PM for nearly a decade now and could well live for another forty years. How about a lying in state for him, and tie it as a condition to Baroness Thatcher's lying in state.
Somehow I think some people aren't so enthusiastic all of a sudden! ;)


icedink said...

She is probably up there with Clem as a postwar leader in terms of making the weather (Clem being the best by far in this Tory boy's view) but, no, there is no case for a state funeral or a lying in state. It's all history now.

Paul Burgin said...

I agree that she deserves her place in history for being a radical. In so far as being radical and determined, I can admire her. But my point is simply that those who are for and against a state funeral seem to be using spurious reasons for their respective arguments.

Louise said...

While we probably disagree on a lot about Margaret Thatcher, I do agree that she should not receive a state funeral.

State funerals are being bandied about a lot at the moment as political campaigns (see also IDS and his campaign for a state funeral for the last WWI veteran). Once we start to open up state funerals to all and sundry including politicians from any party we cheapen their impact.

No state funeral for Maggie, Tony or anyone else who isn't a monarch or senior Royal.

Paul Burgin said...

I agree, although I think they should be open for civilians in very unusual circumstances, i.e. Churchill

C4' said...

I think we're ALL missing the point here. Maggie Thatcher doesn't need ANY funeral because she'll live forever and good thing that is too.