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Wednesday, August 09, 2006 

Can't we burn her on a funeral pyre?

The deep affection felt for Margaret Thatcher by some of the media and elements of the Tory party appears to have been reawakened of late. This may be down to the election of David "Dave" Cameron, and his quest to turn his party into a touchy-feely bunch of tree huggers, as evidenced by their apparent change of logo. There was outrage in the Mail on Sunday after Jonathan Ross asked Cameron whether he had ever fantasised about Hilda while masturbating. Now the Telegraph and a couple of Tory MPs are angry that Thatcher might not get the state funeral which she so clearly deserves.

Tony Blair was accused last night of appeasing Left-wing Labour MPs after Downing Street confirmed that it did not intend to recommend a state funeral for Lady Thatcher, the country's first woman prime minister.

Senior Conservative MPs expressed anger over a letter from one of Mr Blair's aides to a Labour backbencher setting out No 10's position.

They accused Mr Blair of provoking an "unseemly" political row by entering into a discussion about Lady Thatcher's funeral arrangements at a time when she was in good health.

Iain Duncan Smith, the former Conservative leader, said there were "lots of reasons" why Lady Thatcher should become the first prime minister since Winston Churchill to be accorded a state funeral.

She turned round the British economy and victory in the Falklands conflict restored the country's international prestige, he said.

Gerald Howarth, the Tory MP for Aldershot and Lady Thatcher's former parliamentary aide, said that the No 10 letter showed that when Mr Blair was in trouble with his party he made a gesture to appease his Left-wing MPs - such as the ban on foxhunting.

"That is Blair all over," Mr Howarth said. "It is contemptible. He claimed the mantle of Thatcher but when the going gets tough with Labour MPs, he throws them a bone."

Much as one loves to hate Tony, whatever he did here he'd end up getting criticised. If his private secretary hadn't ruled out the funeral entirely (which he hasn't, simply saying "that there are no such plans"), then the same Tories and Torygraph would be indignant that they weren't confirming what they clearly want, with Blair avoiding questions as usual. Instead he's now accused of being "unseemly", simply for answering a question and giving a response which doesn't much please the Torygraph.

Then we have the determination of the self styled quiet man, Mr Iain Duncan Smith. According to him, Thatcher turned round the economy, which would come as a surprise to the millions of unemployed who lived the early 80s in misery. The economy in fact went through its usual boom and bust during the decade, only calming down in the aftermath of Black Wednesday. Then we have the curious remark that the Falklands war, quite possibly the most pointless conflict the UK has ever participated in, helped restore our international prestige. What it actually did was show the world how to fight a war in a near-media blackout, with almost all information controlled by the government. The sinking of the Belgrano, while it was outside the 200-mile exclusion zone and sailing even further away from it, remains controversial to this day. With an almost entirely pliant media, helped along the way by the Scum's complete obeisance to "Our Boys" and its infamous "Gotcha!" headline, the country united behind Thatcher and returned her to office in 1983 (The longest suicide note in history, aka the 1983 Labour manifesto and the SDP-Liberal pact also played their part) with an increased majority. Duncan Smith also doesn't mention those other foreign policy triumphs of the Thatcher years - supporting the mujahadein in Afghanistan against the Soviets, which then turned its guns and bombs against the west, and selling weapons to Saddam Hussein, as well supporting Iraq in the war with Iran, which cost a million lives.

Howarth is spouting similar nonsense. Could anyone imagine a Labour prime minister, even Blair, giving Thatcher a state funeral? You may as well reintroduce the poll tax, because the response from the public at large, not just the left, would be similar. He mentions the ban on fox hunting as appeasing the left at a time of trouble - but Labour had promised a free vote on banning hunting with hounds since the 1997 manifesto. He's right that Blair modelled himself on Thatcher, but can any Tory now deny that Cameron is a clone of Blair, except newer, younger and more green?

Obsolete therefore thinks that we can come to a compromise. When Thatcher keels over, let's have an open-air cremation in parliament square. It can be both a state funeral, pleasing the Tory diehards, and also delight the left, which has long ached for the dreadful woman to be burnt at the stake.

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