Coffee House

Margaret Thatcher’s funeral was the right funeral

17 April 2013

Today was a moment in our island story. The longest serving Prime Minister of the 2oth century was laid to rest with due ceremony.

Watching the coffin move down to St Paul’s and the service itself, I was struck by how right it was that it was a ceremonial funeral. A private affair would not have done justice to the legacy of our first, and only, female Prime Minister.


It was noticeable that the much talked-about protests along the route failed to materialise. But it should be stressed that today’s service was not a political affair. The eulogy was not about her policies but her faith and her understanding of it.

Margaret Thatcher now passes into history. I suspect that her name will live on in the way that Gladstone and Disraeli have.

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  • phil

    She wasn’t the longest serving PM. Blair won as many elections and I think Wilson won more. She was just a stupid misguided grocers daughter with an Electra complex. Clearly brought up by her father to be a vicious union hating right wing conservative elitist who was prepared to sacrifice the country and it’s people in her irrational hatred of, and drive to destroy, the unions. Time to take the country back into the hands of the people to whom it really belongs: it’s time to abolish the house of Lords and the Monarchy.

  • paulus

    The reasoning behind the comments is purile, Mrs Thatcher marshalled the west and won the cold war. She was the greatest war leader we ever had. She defeated the mightiest army on earth, and saved us from nuclear holocaust, without a single shot being fired.

    Churchill was given a state funeral for winning a war in which nearly a million Britons died prosecuting it.

    An old chinese proverb reads: the greatest war lords are the ones that win without a fight.

    On this reckonig there is no comparable person, on what she achieved.And all them daft lefties would have been incinerated along side of us if she didn’t.

  • Iain Hill

    We must accept that the MT groupies are beyond persuasion. The funeral was jingoistic and potentially fascist in bringing the military into civil affairs, because of the desire to evoke memories of a colonial adventure just before local elections. I t will all backfire

    More refreshing was the result of a poll of young people, many of whom had never heard of MT, or one of the many tourists around St Paul’s heard telling his family they were watching the funeral of the Queen’s sister.

  • Jon Davies

    I thought the funeral was spot on in terms of how it went. What I struggle with is both whether this is really what Margaret Thatcher would have wanted and the cost of the funeral.

    I can see us debating how much for Major’s, Blair’s or Brown’s funeral in the future (assuming I live to see any of them). I’m torn between the US approach to presidential funerals (knowing that a prime minister is not a president) and making it private.

  • no name

    James, correct me if I am wrong, but weren’t you still at primary school when Mrs T stood down?

  • James Strong

    No, it wa not the right funeral.
    She was a remarkable politician, but we need to both look beyond that and remember limits.
    She worked in Parliament and No 10 for many years; she drew a salary and then a pension. She was a private citizen when she died and should have had a private funeral.
    Taxpayers should almost NEVER pay for the funeral of a politician.(see below)
    Politicians should be treated with courtesy and respect, until their behaviour makes that undesreved.No politician should EVER be treated with deference or adulation.
    This attitude to politicians should transcend party polyical lines, but in this case it doesn’t.
    Those demonstrating against her yesterday were opposed to her policies, those in favour of the quasi-State Funeral were overwhelmingly in support of her policies.
    It was a political funeral and taxpayers should not have to pay for this.
    I am sure that most commenters here will disagree with me, being pro-Thatcher is natural to most on this site.
    But, before you vote this comment down, please consider what sort of funeral you would want for Blair if he died tomorrow. He won 3 elections, transformed the Labour Party, served as PM for 10 years,and was a war leader. If Thatcher deserved a ceremonial funeral then why not Blair?
    I loathe Blair, I think he was duplicitous in office and committed British forces to war in his own interests rather than the interests of the UK. But those are political judgements, some think he was a transforming PM.
    What do you lot think?
    If you supported a ceremonial funeral for Thatcher at taxpayer expense do you support the same for Blair? If not, why not?
    I think taxpayers should never pay for the funeral of a politician who dies other than in office killed by violent opponents.

    • Andy

      I believe a Ceremonial Funeral is the right of every former Prime Minister. The State, if it is private or semi-private funeral, makes a significant contribution to the cost and pays for the subsequent Memorial Service.

      A State Funeral, save for that of the Sovereign, requires a motion in both Houses and is given by command of Her Majesty, and the only one I recall was that of Sir Winston Churchill.

      In recent times there have been very few Ceremonial Funerals, but at one time these were not uncommon events. And perhaps you should also reflect that in the 19th Century a number of politicians had State Funerals, including the Duke of Wellington, Lord Palmerston and Gladstone. I hardly think that Gladstone was a ‘unifying figure’, and nor for that matter was Wellington.

      • no name

        At the close of the 19th century Parliament oversaw an empire which included a third of the world’s population (about 500 million). Were today’s political leaders in a similar situation then they would be responsible for approx. 2.5 billion souls. Quite a thought isn’t it? Though I feel sure Mrs T would have been up to the task.

      • HookesLaw

        Wellington was of course a famous General and victor of Waterloo as well. In his career as a politician he was at times utterly reviled but he did refuse office in favour of a reforming PM and eventually he returned to amazing popularity. He himself could not understand why.

        (Nelson had a state funeral)

    • Makroon

      The major opposition to a Blair “ceremonial funeral”, in the near future, would be the Labour hierarchy, Brownites to a man/woman.
      Were you in favour of a “ceremonial funeral” for Princess Diana ?

    • the viceroy’s gin

      Blair was reactionary to Thatcher. He was not of his own making, for better or worse. This is not to discount his political acumen and skills, which were considerable. But it was the far less politically skilled Thatcher who was the revolutionary, not Blair. And it is that revolution that is memorable and thus memorialized.

      A conservative revolutionary? Maybe that’s a counterintuitive idea to some, but not to we conservatives.

    • HookesLaw

      I would love to see a ceremonial funeral for Blair. The sight of the left with all their heads exploding would be a picture.

  • the viceroy’s gin

    Thatcher was that rare politician whose persona and influence crossed national borders. Such as her belief in “ordered liberty” was a root principle argued in the Cold War conflict, and her faith in the “vigorous virtues” provided the most fitting materiel to prosecute that clash.

    Whatever the domestic squabbles, there are many millions of people who appreciate her role in their current liberty. Almost a decade ago at another funeral, across the Atlantic, she spoke appreciatively of “the great liberator” being mourned, who’d helped bring on those peoples’ liberty. Today, one can eulogize Thatcher with those same words.

    • HookesLaw

      I seem to remember a left wing ‘oh so clever’ poster, based on Gone with the Wind, which denigrated Reagan and Thatcher for standing up to The USSR over missile bases and disarmament. Clever but typically wrong headed. Instead of instigating WW3 we won the cold war, broke down the Beriln Wall, the iron curtain, destroyed communism and liberated the whole of eastern Europe, and various Soviet republics, all without firing a shot.

      She did this with the support of the Conservative party and opposed by the socialists and the wet liberals.
      And to think there are some who say her funeral is not worth the money.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        You may want to be careful about using the royal “we” when discussing Thatcher, lad. You and your Cameroon buddies are not conservative, and it’s only we conservatives who can speak of her in that fashion.

        • HookesLaw

          ‘we’…? We the West won the cold war… laddie.

          I’m a Conservative, thank you very much. Have been for over half a century.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            We conservatives won the Cold War, lad.

            And you may be a Conservative, but you are most definitely not a conservative, similar to all you Cameroons.

            • HookesLaw

              You know nothing about the Conservative Party, nor the broad swathe of people from all classes who support it and who have supported it all though my long life.

              Do you effing dare try to say that we who have voted Conservative all our lives through thick and thin and pit strike and 3 day week are not Conservatives. All you seek to do is misrepresent the past to twist it to suit your own brand of bigotry.

              • the viceroy’s gin

                Laddie, I don’t care about “Conservative Party”, and never mentioned it.

                You are not a conservative, and neither are your Cameroon heroes. That is all.

                And I notice that like all leftists, your first knee jerk is to shriek “bigotry”, when your leftism is confronted. How typical of you.

                No, you should avoid using the royal “we”, when speaking of we conservatives, laddie. It’s not the proper descriptor for you.

  • The Aged P

    Well I went, mainly to pay my respects to one of the greatest Prime Ministers we have ever had but also to show my contempt for the grave dancers – looks like a lot of other people did the same

  • Radford_NG

    But did she want this?She did not want a State funeral,but as the BBC says:It was a State funeral in all but name.Is it what the family wanted,or was it hijacked by Cameron as Blair with that of Diana and with how he tried to hijack that of The Queen Mother?

    • JamesdelaMare

      Radford – Good points. Probably pushed by Cameron, the Barclay Bros., (owners of the Telegraph), the D. Mail and others, to stir up patriotism in grass roots Conservatives in order to overcome the UKIP threat. Look at Enoch Powell’s funeral, in St Margarets Westminster. A most genuine event, utterly modest and unpretentious. Packed with genuine people who were there for his memory, not for the status of the event. Yet he was every bit as good as Thatcher in intellect, probably better and was a soldier and professor as well.

      • Colonel Mustard

        Ridiculous. Ridiculous theory and ridiculous comparison.

      • HookesLaw

        on the other hand… probably not.

      • GUBU

        I must disagree with you, James. I detect the well tanned hand of international jetsetter Mr Blair in this.

        Indeed, I would suggest that in many ways the past week has been somewhat discomfiting for Mr Cameron. After all, one last grand outing for the Thatcher ‘brand’ might easily unravel what’s left of his valiant efforts to build a shiny, happy, modern Conservative party – a 21st Century HeathCo. The reality of power has already taken much of the sheen off it – who’s interested in those huskies now?

        Perhaps more worryingly, his own rather ill defined ‘brand’ looks rather pallid when compared to that of his predecessor, which after four decades is still viewed in bright, bold primary colours by both enthusiasts and detractors.

        Will anyone ever feel that way about him? Does he want them to?

        The mention of Mr Powell makes me very wistful – now where is his modern equivalent?

    • iviv44

      Wasn’t it signed off by Blair and Brown? All long before Cameron was on the scene.

  • monty61

    Way over the top. Martin Kettle has it right in the Guardian – we still do a nice one, but in the end the whole thing was utterly futile. The opinion poll bump won’t even last till the local elections.

    • HookesLaw

      The style of the funeral was set out by a labour govt headed by Gordon Brown. Which makes you missive rather futile.

      • monty61

        Doesn’t matter which lickspittle organised the thing, it was still grossly overdone.

        • HookesLaw

          It was done under the auspices of Scottish lickspittles.

    • JamesdelaMare

      Monty61 – Yes, absurdly over the top. There’s no way to account for it beyond understanding that those who have little to celebrate make the most of what little they have. Look at the Labour years and now Cameron’s years. Look at the succession of Conservative “leaders” since they flung Thatcher out. Look at the banking and public deficit crises. Look at the Eastleigh bye-election and the state of the so-called “coalition”. And the country’s defence and breakup of its infrastructure.

      The futile bit was the extraordinary theory that the Conservatives would get an huge overwhelming popularity boost by appealing to its provincial grass roots support via adulating the memory of Mrs Thatcher. Very very sad and misguided. We’ll look stupid over this in a couple of years, if not sooner. Odd, though, that the commenters here, in the Mail and D.Tel. can’t seem to face reality.

      • Colonel Mustard

        Whose reality? Yours?

        • JamesdelaMare

          Col. M. – Well, I’ve spelt it out. I thought it was clear. I’ve spelt out some more in a comment on another article. The Conservatives did fling her out, didn’t they? The Labour years were a bit “iffy” weren’t they? We have had a banking crisis and a bad Eastleigh result, haven’t we? The years of Mrs Thatcher really only slowed down the problems and the nation’s decline, didn’t they? She didn’t actually stop it, did she?

          • Colonel Mustard

            You’ve spelt out a narrow and subjective view. Lots of factors conveniently missing from your “analysis”. History will decide. If we ever get that far.

    • Colonel Mustard

      That article is just typical socialist triumphalism dressed up as a sneering eulogy for dying Toryism.

  • lgrundy

    God Bless Margaret Thatcher. Rest In Peace.

  • aberoth

    Did the band play a Scottish tune? She deserves it for all the work she did for the independence movement in Scotland.

    • HookesLaw

      When did she do this work – she has been out of office over 20 years? Was the burning desire for Scottish independence not assuaged by having 2 Scottish PMs and 2 Scottish chancellors for 13 years?

  • aramiska

    Well said and how pleasing it is to see and hear the privileged few drowning out the impoverished many.

    In the City of London capital of Capitalism, through the Freemasons Archway ( next to the plaque ) to Paternoster Square, the Temple of Money, the Stock Exchange bears witness to the passing of its Mother, in the shady and dowdy confines of the beleaguered cathedral of St Paul ( not of Assisi ) just opposite but hidden from view. And the dog faced sheep on the plinth in Paternoster bleet meekly as their faceless shepherd guides his flock to their shearing.

    Meanwhile the ancient folkmoot in the churchyard of St Pauls lies empty, forlorn and gated, no dissenting voices here since the magna carta heydays. Its 4 heraldic shields bear witness to the power of the Masons, Knights, Bishops and Royals who rule this little pathetic pagent of an Island of wealth floating in a sea of depression. Thatcherism a Eulogy.

    • GUBU

      Pretentious, poorly punctuated twaddle.

    • HookesLaw

      More people in employment than ever in our history. History not being your strong suit though.

      • aramiska

        ¬GUBU im a poor poet not a pretentious punctuator. Check the rhyme, rhythm and meter of my Eulogy, its a journey through time set in the present, although you have an acronym for a name so maybe, pearls to a swine.


        History, Yes lots more employment than Thatcher`s 4 million on the dole. No jobs for the boys though.

        History tells us that Paternoster was a meat market populated by working women, butchers and pimps. A lot of blood has been spilled on that sanctimonious plot of land but nothing has changed now a meat market for spivs, cons and gamblers :

        Newgate meat market lay in the City of London, between Newgate Street
        and Paternoster Row, roughly where the London Stock Exchange and
        Paternoster Square are now.

        It would scarcely be credited that, in splendid London, women are
        subjected to various kinds of severe and repulsive toil …. For
        example, the porterage of meat at the wholesale markets, as Newgate and Leadenhall, is performed by women, many of them old. You will see these wretched creatures stagger under the weight of a side of beef, or having an entire sheep upon their heads, conveying their burdens to the
        butchers carts, drawn up in the vicinity of the market …

        • Nicholas chuzzlewit

          So you could not summon up enough dignity, common humanity and self restraint to wait until one day after the funeral. no, you had to show us all how clever you are.

          • aramiska

            I have always been clever I`m not embarrassed at my acumen and gifted really. It`s just that Thatcherism ruined my life at a young age, although I thank her for making me who I am 😉

            I was at Trafalgar Square you see for the Poll tax little ole me. So no I`m not sorry, I could not wait after 25 years of summoning up my dignity, humanity and self restraint so that It would not turn to hate. ( spot the rhyme ).

            • Nicholas chuzzlewit

              I was being ironic. You are definitely not clever.

            • Barakzai

              ”I have always been clever I`m not embarrassed at my acumen and gifted really.” This reads very like a recent post from Tom Tom; are you, by any chance, related?

            • 2trueblue

              At what?

            • HookesLaw

              Thatcher ruined your life? You need psychoanalysis because you are one sad g!t.

              You rioted over paying your fair share of tax? What an astute little socialist you are. Take a look everyone, quick before he scuttles back under his stone. This is why you need to vote Conservative.

              pardon me I don’t have the time
              for your feeble effort at rhyme
              you’re partial view of history
              is fed by bile and bigotry

            • chan chan

              Oh, were you one of those dog-on-a-rope characters? Chumbawumba type? How did Fatcher ruin your life? Tell us. You know you want to. Could it be like the ex-miner I read about last week, who is 58, and still hasn’t worked a day since he lost his job in a mine in 1984? Too lazy to go and find a job somewhere else? My father came to this country as an immigrant in the late 40s, and moved around it wherever the work was. And this lazy basta*d says he hasn’t worked since 1984 because the government didn’t drop a job in his lap? He has nobody to blame for his misery but himself.

              • Teacher

                Miners at pits being closed were offered a job elsewhere or a payoff.

        • HookesLaw

          The line was ‘the impoverished many’. I merely point out we have more in employment than ever before. Sadly it was labour who ladled out the benefits.
          The UK financial sector went to the dogs under labour who encouraged it.

          I am not sure I would trust the Telegraph. Our own worthy Spectator says, ‘The number of women in work is up by 54,000, to a record high of 13.811 million’

          You paint a picture like a blind man with a mop. Your illumination of history fails to shine a light on Callaghan’s govt which unleashed massive inflation and left miserable productivity and bankrupt, over manned state industries.
          The trade unions anxious for political hegemony destroyed the UK. We can be proud that the Tories saw them off.

        • Fergus Pickering

          Oh, it’s a POEM! No wonder it makes no sense.

          • HookesLaw

            Its one of them there dissonant poems.
            I don’t mind poetry with no rhyme its when there is no reason that I object.

            • Fergus Pickering

              You are quite rong. There is no reason at all that a poem should make sense. But it must SOUND nice. ‘Twas brillig, do’t you know.

              • Fergus Pickering

                Sorry. For rong read wrong.

        • Makroon


      • incrediblyQ

        And a huge number of them on flexible contracts maybe not even guaranteeing them a whole day’s work a week.

  • e2toe4

    Not often a Bishop gets it’s spot on, but I thought the Bishop got it spot on…..

    • JamesdelaMare

      e2t24oe4 – It is often that this particular Bishop gets it right. He’s very good. Down to earth, objective commonsense.

      • e2toe4

        I just felt it was a very difficult gig…but he got it it just about pitch perfect, played it as he felt it ought to have been played while getting in his justification for so doing. These set piece moments play such a big part in ‘setting ideas’ and framing debates that it was important he didn’t ‘mis-speak’.

        Not that I am particularly religious ..So the ‘Bishop’ part doesn’t come into it for me, I just like to applaud good play from any team.

        • Steve Wolsnum

          As you say, it was pitched perfectly. It was also humane, thought-provoking, eloquent and moving in a uniquely delicate situation. It was one of the most memorable pieces of oratory I have ever heard. I sent the bishop an email straight away making these points. He comes across as a good and likeable man.

  • David Lindsay

    I was quite disappointed that no one waved a wad of cash and shouted “Loadsamoney! Loadsamoney!” Not even Cherie Blair.

    • HookesLaw

      The guy who invented that grew up, unlike you.

    • Nicholas chuzzlewit

      Look at me, look at me I’m a satirical humourist. Are you so desperate for attention that you have to make cheap, highly unoriginal comments after a funeral? Is that the best you can come up with after a week? What an impoverished, needy little fellow you are.

  • Nicholas chuzzlewit

    Well said and how pleasing it was to see and hear the dignified many drowning out the embittered few.

    • telemachus

      Hear Hear
      All those on the route were moved
      I loved the single bell tolling as She went in and the joyous peel as she came out

      • Andy

        That is ‘our’ way, the British way of doing things.

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