Friday, December 23, 2011

State Funeral For Maggie?

The proposal to give Margaret Thatcher a state funeral deserves more public debate than it's been given, as Peter Oborne points out. But of course the debate will inevitable give voice to the usual left wing Thatcher haters who take every opportunity to share with us their feelings about the ex-Prime Minister.

Peter Oborne correctly points to sections of society that have reason to regret the changes she brought to the country. But those with genuine reason to dislike Thatcher are vastly outnumbered by the, mostly middle-class leftists, who hate Thatcher because the shift in British politics she engendered. They've had to live with the fact that the only way Labour has been able to get back into power has been to move to the right. They hate the fact that it took, what many of them believe to be a "Tory clone", like Tony Blair to get Labour elected and pine for the days when a Michael Foot, Neil Kinnock, Gordon Brown or even an Ed Miliband of all things, could once again be electable. Their insecurities often give rise to hateful and mindless attacks on the woman they see as the main change agent, their arch-enemy.

But such is politics and while I think the nation owes Maggie a great deal, I also think a national debate on whether or not she is a suitable candidate for a state funeral and what form that should take would be healthy. If the debate concludes for a state funeral it would result in one that has the support of more people than otherwise might be the case.

Indeed, without a real debate, the argument is influenced by the inane and ignorant such as this from Sunny Hundal on a e-petition to "privatise Thatcher's funeral". It's a good example of how the left's hatred blinds them to basic facts. Hundal refers to the "first privatised funeral" as if funerals are generally run by the state. It may come as a shock to Hundal and the signatories to the petition he is touting, but normal funerals are already private affairs. I know it's meant to be a joke and he's taken the idea of privatised funeral to mean a for-profit event with ticket sales etc. But the "joke" doesn't really work when you consider that, for example, funeral directors actually make a profit, the evil Thatcherite bastards! Hundal is right about one thing, perhaps Thatcher would have been happier with a private funeral.

But these kinds of articles and petitions highlight the polarised views on the subject and the need for more of a public debate.

It is kind of amusing to see so many on the left getting worked up about a state funeral for Maggie when you remember that the arrangements were set in train by Gordon Brown as part of his usual party political mischief making. He was attempting to destabilise a reforming Cameron leadership by courting Tory right wingers with gestures like inviting Maggie to No 10 and then the state funeral planning. But, as with most things Gordon tried, his plans didn't work out.

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