As the world now knows the Rt Hon. Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven LG OM FRS has been called home by Almighty God. May her soul Rest in Peace, along with that of her beloved husband Major Sir Denis Thatcher MBE TD Bt. I was privileged to have known them both.
Margaret was a much-loved President of the Bruges Group when I was Co-Chairman. The group was of course founded in memory of her great speech at Bruges in the Kingdom of Belgium, which effectively announced that after 15 years of being enfeebled in the red tape of Brussels Great Britain was breaking for the open sea.
It has taken many years, far too many in my as ever-humble opinion, but we are nearly there, thank God. In reality, after Bruges, we were always semi-detached members of the EU. She really hand-bagged them over in Brussels. British departure from the EU would be a fitting memorial for her.
Sir Denis was a great character, of whom I was very fond. We last spoke in the queue for a bar, not inappropriately. He was a rather shrewder character than his critics were willing to admit however. Like me, he tended to hide his lights under a bushel.
My last exchange of letters with Lady Thatcher was upon his passing. He was a great source of strength to her and she was deeply affected by his death.
She had been ill for years of course, but the Alzheimers, cruel disease thought it is, tended to be exaggerated for political purposes. In truth it suited Michael Howard and David Cameron for her views to be kept out of the public domain.
They were too powerful, too right-wing and too rational for them to be able to deal with. I don’t think she had much time in private for David Cameron’s ‘Jim Hacker’ style of weak leadership and no-conviction politics.
Amongst her greatest achievements were winning the Falklands War, deposing the evil Argentine dictator General Galtieri, and, with Ronald Reagan, winning the Cold War.
She was a staunch advocate of freedom and democracy, ironically more admired in the former Warsaw Pact countries than in her own. She was also more respected by working people than the media would have you believe.
I learnt that lesson, when in my mis-spent youth in the Labour Party, I went canvassing in inner-London council estates in the 1983 General Election. I quickly appreciated that she enjoyed the respect of decent, hard-working people. It got me thinking, and started my slow conversion to the Tory Party. In the end she won me over to her way of thinking.
Ironically she then supported EEC membership, to which I was bitterly opposed. It was of course EEC membership which was responsible, along with the trade unions and poor management, for our industrial decline. She wanted men and women to have jobs and to be independent of the state.
Some of the comments on her passing, e.g. from George Galloway MP and Gerry Adams, have been churlish and crude in the extreme, more damaging to the reputations of the makers than to hers. In fairness – and I am always fair to him – President George H. W. Bush’s remarks in today’s Daily Telegraph were appropriate and classy.
His great son, another deposer of evil dictators, added further to his reputation with his own dignified and statesmanlike comments, which did not take me by surprise. The man has class. All y’all can tell that he hails from the South!
An insulting and cheap send off?
I am hopeful that it will be possible to attend her ceremonial funeral, likely to be at St. Paul’s Cathedral next Wednesday or Thursday.
The Coalition Government’s decision, backed by the Cabinet Office, to deny Lady Thatcher a State Funeral is being seen on the Thatcherite Wing of my party, to which I am proud to belong, as an insult to her sacred memory.
It was a blunder of the first magnitude, for which Cameron will be made to pay.
Lady Thatcher is absolutely entitled to a State Funeral. She was never given the option, so her reported ‘choice’ of a downgraded ceremonial funeral, with limited military participation, was never a real one.
Her family’s views count but at the end of the day she was a great Prime Minister and it is a matter of state.
I call upon the Coalition Government to reverse its shameful decision. The low-key funeral of such a revered figure will be viewed with astonishment in foreign capitals.
This insult in death reflects that in life, when she was denied the equivalent of an earldom which she had so well earned. Lady Thatcher should have been made Countess of Grantham, with descent in the female line to her daughter.
Michael Shrimpton was a barrister from his call to the Bar in London in 1983 until being disbarred in 2019 over a fraudulently obtained conviction. He is a specialist in National Security and Constitutional Law, Strategic Intelligence and Counter-terrorism. He is a former Adjunct Professor of Intelligence Studies at the American Military University.
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