A Period of Silence Please

So it’s finally over. They’ve held the funeral. Perhaps the media will now shut up about Margaret Thatcher. Or as Clement Attlee said A period of silence on your part would be welcome. The BBC, after gutlessly bowing to pressure over the Ding Dong The Witch is Dead song, excelled itself again today: it cancelled its normal programmes for two hours of the funeral. I’ve had enough of the endless beatification that’s been going on since her death was announced last week. And more than enough of the attempt to silence any critical voices by labelling them as disrespectful to the dead.

Any politician is open to criticism: it’s a public life they have chosen, so they must expect it. Such criticism should not cease on their death. The right’s call for “respect” is just another piece of hypocrisy: they were quite happy to put the boot into Michael Foot after his death; there was no call for “respect” then. Another trend I particularly dislike is their criticism of younger people who have commented, just because they either weren’t born in the 1980s or were very young. You don’t have to have been present to have a view. I wasn’t around during World War Two, but that doesn’t make my views of Churchill, Stalin or Hitler any less valid. Never mind any figures from further back in history. If you take this foolish argument to its logical conclusion, then there would be no study of history, and no learning from it.

What really disgusts me is that the taxpayer is paying for today’s ceremonies, possibly as much as £10 million. To say it’s not a state funeral, but a ceremonial one is mere semantics. It was public, with military honours and held in St Paul’s cathedral with the Queen in attendance. It was a state funeral in all but name. It was also a piece of triumphal political theatre. Coming at a time of appalling austerity, and on a day when it was announced that unemployment had gone up again, it was also spectacularly tasteless.

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