“We’re not meant to like it”
Nine days ago, Margaret Thatcher died in a suite at the Ritz and the country lost its wits. Her political legacy lives on and it’s that legacy that is really being debated in the escalating frenzy around who gets control of the funeral narrative. This isn’t about Thatcher. It never really was: not the parties, not the screeching pundits, not the ludicrous battle to get the song ‘Ding Dong, The Witch is Dead. Actually, it’s about us. It’s about Britain and about the battle for control of the national narrative. Thatcher’s death has become the occasion for a grand psychodrama of a vicious and divided nation.Make no mistake: the funeral taking place today is a political statement. A ceremonial funeral of this kind, attended by the Queen, is a specific British state honour that has only been given to one other non-royal in recent history – Winston Churchill, who led a united war cabinet. Respect for the dead is one thing, but demanding acquiescence in the face of an enormous, costly political statement is quite another.Britain has been waiting for this for a long, long time. The major news outlets and commentators on the left and right were so quick to publish pieces variously condemning, praising or condemning the praise ofThatcher’s legacy that you might almost suspect that they had these articles in stock and were just waiting to fill in the dates. You might even suspect that the reaction to Thatcher’s death had been entirely pre-scripted.