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Wednesday 10 April 2013

Margaret Thatcher death: latest reaction

Margaret Thatcher died of a stroke on Monday at the age of 87. Follow the latest reaction to the death of Britain's first female prime minister.

Mrs Thatcher works late into the evening in her Downing Street flat in 1983
Statesman first, parent second: Mrs Thatcher works late into the evening in her Downing Street flat in 1983 Photo: REX

A "True Blue" committee is organising Baroness Thatcher’s funeral
• Mark and Carol Thatcher have returned to Britain
• Parliament recalled for special session this afternoon
• David Cameron to lead tributes in the House of Commons
• Ceremonial funeral to be held next Wednesday
• The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh will be attending her funeral
Margaret Thatcher Telegraph coverage in full
• Email your tributes to thatchermemories@telegraph.co.uk


12.20: Former Prime Minister Tony Blair and his wife Cherie are to attend Lady Thatcher's funeral next week, they confirmed today.The couple will be among a number of high-profile guests expected to attend from across the world.

Planning is under way for the ceremonial funeral, which will have full military honours, at St Paul's Cathedral, next Wednesday, under an operation dubbed True Blue.

Downing Street is expected to begin releasing details of the guest list today, amid speculation that it could include former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and ex-US first lady Nancy Reagan.

Britain's former Prime Ministers - Baroness Thatcher and Tony Blair talk as they line up during a formal salute

12.15: More than 700 Armed Forces personnel drawn from all three services will take part in the funeral of Baroness Thatcher, Downing Street said today.

Lady Thatcher's coffin will be carried into into St Paul's Cathedral by bearers from units particularly associated with the Falklands War.

David Cameron's official spokesman confirmed that details of the cost to the public purse would be published after next Wednesday's service has taken place.

Her coffin will be carried by personnel from units particularly associated with the Falklands conflict, a No 10 spokesman said.

12.00: At least 10 MPs have declared that they will not be attending this afternoon's debate on Lady Thatcher, inclduing Labour MPs Lucy Powell, Chris Bryant, John Healey, John Mann, Dennis Skinner and Ronnie Campbell

Labour MP Sarah Champion also announced she would be absent, tweeting: “I'm not in Parliament today as I my time is better spent helping #Rotherham. Thatcherism tried to destroy our town & community, they failed!”

Her colleague added: "Neither will I be in Parliament today. Absurd waste of money and there also the cost of the funeral. Due back on Monday anyway!"

Labour Co-operative MP Gavin Shuker publicly announced that he would be elsewhere while Respect MP George Galloway declared that he will not be attending the re-called session, due to start at 2.30pm.

11.10: A former Labour minister has accused David Cameron of hijacking the death of Baroness Thatcher for political gain.

John Healey, the former treasury and housing minister in the Blair and Brown years, said the Prime Minister was using Parliament as a platform for Tory Party ideology after MPs were recalled early to pay tribute.

Mr Healey, MP for Wentworth and Dearne in South Yorkshire, an area hit hard by coal mine closures, said Mr Cameron's references to the Lady Thatcher's economic reforms in his tribute to her on Monday were "partisan" and "divisive"

Writing on the PoliticsHome website, Mr Healey, who is boycotting this afternoon's special session, said: "Parliament is being used today for narrow political gain by the Prime Minister, as a platform for his party's ideology not just eulogy."

He went on: "He's wrong to recall Parliament, and wrong to hijack it in this way. I will play no part and I will stay away, with other things to do at home in the constituency."

Mr Healey said today's Commons session would not be balanced as there would be no opportunity to debate Lady Thatcher's legacy.

He said her ceremonial funeral next Wednesday was "a full-scale state funeral in all but name", adding that "her legacy is too bitter to warrant this claim to national mourning".

A sand sculpture of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher made by sand artist Sudersan Pattnaik at the Golden Sea beach in Puri, about 65 kilometers from the eastern Indian city of Bhubaneswar (Picture: ASIT KUMARSTRDEL/AFP/Getty Images)

10.39: Foreign Secretary William Hague today defended the taxpayer contribution to the funeral of Lady Thatcher and the costs of today's debate.

He said Britain could "afford" to cover some of the costs of next week's events.

Speaking on BBC One's Breakfast programme, Mr Hague said: "It's right Parliament meets and commemorates such a leader of historic proportions in our country's history.

"She changed the course of our history and there have been many comments over the last few days from all corners of the political spectrum.

"When it comes to money, the rebate she negotiated for this country from the EU has brought us so far £75 billion - which is twice the size of our annual defence budget. I think that puts money in perspective... so I think we can afford to contribute to a funeral."

Lady Thatcher's family is also meeting an unspecified amount of the funeral cost

Mr Hague said he believed many people on the left's biggest problem with Lady Thatcher was "they could never beat her".

"They claimed to stand for millions of people but they could never get as many votes as Mrs Thatcher in an election," he said.

10.15: MPs returning from overseas visits to pay tribute to Baroness Thatcher can claim up to £3,750 in travel expenses, it was confirmed today.

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) said that, in line with normal rules, MPs were entitled to claim for their journeys back to Westminster following the recall of Parliament during the Easter recess.

For any MPs who are abroad on holiday or overseas visits there is a maximum of £3,750 which they can claim back.

That sum could include the cost of returning to their holiday destination if they choose to resume their break following recall.

An Ipsa spokesman said that some MPs could well have been out of the country when the recall was announced and that it was "reasonable" that they should be reimbursed for the cost of returning.

"If Parliament is recalled, MPs can claim the cost of getting to Parliament," the spokesman said.

10.06: Comedian Russell Brand has said he “always felt sorry” for Lady Thatcher’s children Mark and Carol.

Describing himself as “one of Thatcher’s children” after she took over the Conservatives the year he was born and was prime minister when he was aged between four and 15, said she was “so omnipotent; so omnipresent, so omni-everything”.

Writing in the Guardian he said: “For a national matriarch she is oddly unmaternal. I always felt a bit sorry for her biological children Mark and Carol, wondering from whom they would get their cuddles.

"Thatcher as mother" seemed, to my tiddly mind, anathema. How could anyone who was so resolutely Margaret Thatcher be anything else?”

Describing her as “an icon of individualism, not of feminism”, he added: “Her death must be sad for the handful of people she was nice to and the rich people who got richer under her stewardship. It isn't sad for anyone else.”

09.50: The manager of an Oddbins wine merchant has been suspended after promoting discounted Champagne on Twitter in the aftermath of Lady Thatcher’s death.

A tweet appeared on the north London store’s after the news broke, reading: “If for any reason anyone feels like celebrating anything we have Taittinger available at £10 less than usual at £29. Just saying...”

The tweet was deleted within hours, the Broadway reported, and the staff member suspended.

A link to a statement was then tweeted from the Crouch End store’s account.

It said: "The tweet in question was made by a member of branch staff without the approval or knowledge of the company's management. The tweet was completely inappropriate and in the worst possible taste.

“We would like to apologise profusely for the offence it has quite rightly caused. The member of staff responsible has been suspended with immediate effect pending a disciplinary hearing.”

09.30: The Metropolitan Police's Fixated Threat Assessment Centre, which monitors disturbed individuals who are obsessed with famous figures, has a list of Lady Thatcher fanatics who it plans to monitor at her funeral.

Obsessed individuals are to be vetted whilst other protesters could be banned from attending.

A multimillion-pound security operation, led by the Metropolitan Police, will be in place for next Wednesday’s ceremonial service, which will be attended by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh.

There have already been “celebrations” following Lady Thatcher’s death at the age of 87 on Monday, and more are rumoured to be planned for the day of the funeral.

Dai Davies, a former head of royal protection at Scotland Yard, told the Times that although remaining aware of the potential for attacks by the IRA and other terrorist organisations, police are likely to be most concerned about a "fixated person with a psychological hatred of Margaret Thatcher".

Obsessed individuals may be visited to ensure that they do not pose a threat, as happened before the visit of Pope Benedict XVI in 2010.

09.15: Philip Hammond, the Defence Secretary, said it would be "very appropriate" to have a permanent memorial to Lady Thatcher in the capital.

He told the BBC: "I think it would be very appropriate to have a memorial to Margaret Thatcher somewhere in London. I haven’t personally given any thought yet to where that should be, but certainly the fourth plinth could be one of the options.

"Let’s look at that in slower time, I think these things are better thought about in slightly slower time after the event."

09.10: The death of Lady Thatcher has dominated the front pages of Britain’s newspapers for the second day running, here is a look at how it is being reported -

09.00: Further street parties have been planned to “celebrate” Lady Thatcher’s death, including one on Saturday night in Trafalgar Square where a notorious Poll Tax riot took place in 1990

The organisers have claimed thousands will turn up, and more celebrations are set to take place next Wednesday - the same day as her funeral.

On the night of her death hundreds gathered in Brixton, south London, Bristol, and Glasgow, resulting in three arrests and six police officers being injured.

Labour MP for Streatham Chuka Umunna has since condemned those who took to the streets.

Writing in the Sun he described the parties as “extreme bad taste” and “utterly disgraceful”, adding: “Those who came to Brixton to "celebrate" the death of Baroness Thatcher do not speak for or represent the people of the area.

“It was a disgraceful act. The overwhelming majority of people from Brixton have nothing but sympathy for a family that has just lost a loved one.

“Baroness Thatcher was a global political figure, and our first and only female Prime Minister. As Ed Miliband has said, she reshaped the politics of a whole generation."

Revellers with posters and bottles of milk and wine to celebrate the death of former prime minister Margaret Thatcher in Brixton, south London (Picture: REUTERS/Olivia Harris)

08.40: Lady Thatcher’s political opponent Lord Kinnock is set to snub her funeral, it has been reported.

The former Labour leader, who was defeated by Lady Thatcher in the 1987 election, has engagements that day and is unlikely to attend if he is invited, his office told the Sun. The guest list for next Wednesday’s ceremonial funeral has not yet been finalised.

The Queen has already confirmed that she will be attending. The last prime minister’s funeral she attended was that of Winton Churchill.

Sources have claimed that Lord Kinnock is likely to be invited. When asked if he would go an aide said: "Both of them have engagements on that day, but I would rather think not."

08.25: Jeffrey Archer has paid tribute to his "loyal, formidable friend"

He said: "We have lost the greatest peacetime prime minister of the last century. She and Reagan, probably their greatest moment, and she would say this, was the defeat of communism, though she had so many. She defeated the unions when they held this country to ransom over the miners’ strike.

“More than that though, she made Britain great again. When she came to power our standing in the world was on the decline. She once again made us a nation of importance in the world.”

Margaret Thatcher with Jeffrey Archer in 1998.

08.20: Rupert Murdoch has praised the "brave leadership" of Lady Thatcher, claiming Britain is "far more successful" as a result of her premiership.

Describing her as the “the woman who gave us back our backbone” in an opinion column for the Times, the tycoon praised her role in facing down the trade unions in the 1980s.

He said she made it possible for News International to survive a year of industrial action fighting against a move of operations to Wapping, East London.

Mr Murdoch said: "Mrs Thatcher understood that risk was a vital ingredient in a free enterprise society. She understood that such a society had to be led by a government with backbone.

"After the Second World War, in which the country lost a second generation of its finest men, Britain had created a dependency state. It killed off aspiration.

"In 1979 Margaret Thatcher set about its rehabilitation. She put the economy on a sound footing, she ended a culture of crippling strikes, she encouraged entrepreneurs to come here and set up their businesses.

"Thanks to her I have experienced in Britain many of my defining moments as a businessman, a Britain that is far more successful as a result of her brave leadership."

The News International boss said he was "inspired" by Lady Thatcher who was a "risk taker" who "believed in doing the right thing".

08.10: Lady Thatcher believed that David Cameron was too popular as she thought that doing things properly would entail dislike from the public, Conservative MP Conor Burns has revealed.

She criticised Mr Cameron for not being “far enough behind” Labour in the popularity stakes and believed that he should be pushing through policies despite opposition, it was said.

Mr Burns, who visited Lady Thatcher on a weekly basis, told the Daily Mail he had shown her poll in November last year which put the party nine points behind - two and a half years before the next election.

“She said, “That’s not far enough behind at this stage.” She sort of took a view that to do things that were right did entail unpopularity until people saw that what you were doing was working,” he said, giving a fascinating insight into the mind of Britain’s only female Prime Minister.

Remembering the confidence she had in her own convictions Mr Burns added: “She sort of took a view that to do things that were right did entail unpopularity until people saw that what you were doing was working.”

During one of her periods of lucidity despite her bad health she also expressed disapproval of the fact that the Government was a coalition and UKIP, he said.

Margaret Thatcher and David Cameron at the Great Briton awards

07.55: Sir Mark and Carol Thatcher have returned to London as their family gathers ahead of next Wednesday’s funeral. The twins, 59, have not yet issued a statement on their mother’s death.

Sir Mark was on holiday with his wife Sarah Jane Russell in Barbados when he was informed. Carol lives in Switzerland.

Sir Mark’s ex-wife Diane Beckett is expected to attend the service at St Pauls. It is believed that Lady Thatcher requested that both of his wives were present before she passed away.

Margaret Thatcher with her twins, Carol and Mark

07.40: London Mayor Boris Johnson has described Lady Thatcher as "brave", "principled" and "electric" as he tries to explain to those too young to remember what she meant for the country.

Writing for the Telegraph he said: " I cannot think of any other modern leader who has been so fierce in sticking up for her core beliefs, and that is why she speaks so powerfully to every politician in Britain today, and why we are all in her shade. In the end she was martyred by lesser men who were fearful for their seats.

"But by the time she left office she had inspired millions of people – and especially women – that you could genuinely change things; that no matter where you came from you could kick down the door of the stuffy, male-dominated club and bring new ideas. She mobilised millions of people to take charge of their economic destiny, and unleashed confidence and a spirit of enterprise.

"She changed this country’s view of itself, and exploded the myth of decline. She changed the Tory Party, she changed the Labour Party, and she transformed the country she led: not by compromise, but by an iron resolve."

07.28: A poll has found that Baroness Thatcher is Britain's most popular prime minister since the Second World War, eclipsing even Sir Winston Churchill. She was named as the best of the 13 prime ministers since 1945 by 28% of people, the poll YouGov poll of 1,893 adults found.

Sir Winston - Britain's leader during the Second World War and again from 1951 to 1955 - was in second place with 24% of the vote, and Tony Blair in third with 10%, the research for the Sun found.

Lady Thatcher was regarded as a "great" or "good" prime minister by 52% of people, while 30% deemed her "poor" or "terrible".

Almost half of those polled (48%) felt she left Britain economically better off, while 60% felt she left it more respected in the world.

More than half (51%) believed she created more opportunities for women, but just 36% declared she left society more free, and almost half (49%) said she left a less equal society.

Baroness Thatcher gladly adopted the moniker of the "Iron Lady" and 72% of those polled felt she stuck to what she believed in, with 66% saying she was a strong leader and 59% saying she was a decisive prime minister.

People also voted her being elected as Britain's first female prime minister as her greatest achievement, followed by winning the Falklands War and defeating the miners' strike and limiting the power of the unions.

The introduction of the hated poll tax was deemed her greatest failure, followed by her overseeing of the decline of mining and manufacturing and the privatisation of utilities such as British Telecom and British Gas.

Only in Scotland did more people think her a bad prime minister than good.

When asked about their overall feelings towards her, 47% of people felt Lady Thatcher's period as prime minister was good for Britain, and 36% as bad.

Even in death Lady Thatcher divides the nation, with outpourings of both mourning and celebration across Britain.

The Sun's poll found 50% of people back her being given a full ceremonial funeral at St Paul's Cathedral next week - the rest disagree or simply do not know what to think.

07.25: Since Lady Thatcher’s death on Monday the nation has been divided over her legacy, with hundreds gathering at parties to celebrate her passing. Here Peter Stanford looks at why the Iron Lady is still so demonised.

07.10: The House of Commons has been recalled for a special session to discuss the death of Baroness Thatcher. It is the first time that the Commons has been recalled since the riots swept the nation in August 2011.

David Cameron is expected to lead the debate with a tribute to Britain’s “greatest peacetime leader James Kirkup and Rowena Mason have reported.

Several MPs are set to boycott the session, which will begin at 2.30pm. John Mann, Labour MP for Bassetlaw, Ronnie Campbell, MP for Blyth Valley, and George Galloway, the former Labour MP who now sits for the Respect Party in Bradford, have all said that they will stay away.

Baroness Thatcher on the steps of 10 Downing Street with Prime Minister David Cameron (Picture: Eddie Mulholland)

07.00: London Mayor Boris Johnson has backed calls for a statue of Baroness Thatcher in a "prominent" central London location. Some have called for the commemorative statue to be placed in Trafalgar Square, which is dominated by military figures.

06.55: A "True Blue committee" has been convened to organise next Wednesday's ceremonial funeral, Steven Swinford has reported.

The group, bringing together MI5, National Security Secretariat, the police, Buckingham Palace, the Church of England, the Parliamentary authorities, Government departments and representatives of Lady Thatcher’s estate, met for the first time yesterday and will continue to meet on a daily basis until the funeral takes place.

06.50: Here is today's Telegraph's front page looking at the reaction to Baroness Thatcher's death by Michael Deacon.

In the Finchley constituency Lady Thatcher served for 33 years there is a sombre but patriotic mood. As they people paid their respects there was "no gushing hysteria, just quiet, dignified respect".

Lady Thatcher died at around 11am on Monday after suffering a severe stroke in her suite at the Ritz. She passed away peacefully aged 87, after battling poor health for more than a decade.

06.45: Good morning and welcome to the Telegraph's coverage of the death of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Floral tributes to Baroness Thatcher are laid on the pavement outside her Chester Square residence in London (Picture: Anthony Upton)


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