Funeral costs indefensible

It will come as no great surprise to readers to hear me say I was not one of Margaret Thatcher’s great admirers.

As someone who grew up and has lived all my life in the Northumberland coalfield, and indeed earned my living for many years as a miner, I know only too well the devastating impact her policies had on communities such as ours as well as in other hard working areas of the country.

I was always brought up to show respect to the dead, however, and I tried to do that in regard to Mrs Thatcher and her family when I was asked to comment on her death by the press. Anyone who knows me will also know that I follow my convictions and will therefore not be surprised to learn that I was one of the MPs not in the House of Commons when Parliament was recalled to pay tribute to Mrs Thatcher.

I felt that was a totally unnecessary expense at this time of austerity, especially when we would have all been back at Westminster a few days later.

What I believe is even harder to defend is the money spent on what was to all intents and purposes a state funeral. I only know what I have read in the press that the funeral cost an estimated £10m, which seems an extraordinary amount of money when we are trying to make every penny of public spending count.

By all means show Mrs Thatcher the respect she was entitled to as the first and only woman to hold the highest public office in the land as well as being the longest serving modern prime minister.

Surely, however, a memorial service after a family funeral would have done that without the trappings of a ceremonial occasion.

Mrs Thatcher divided public opinion perhaps in a way no other politician has done.

In death the country was equally divided about what was the right and proper way for the nation to mark her passing.