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Friday 12 April 2013

Thatcher – That Funeral Guest List

[Updates, two so far, at end of post]

While arguments continue over whether Margaret Thatcher’s funeral service next Wednesday at St Paul’s cathedral has been turned into “a state funeral by stealth, some have focused on the guest list. This has provided the press with the opportunity to show their ignorance of protocol: Argentine President Cristina Kirchner will not be invited, but nor will any other South American leader.
The appropriate protocol is to invite ambassadors, and the Argentine ambassador certainly has been invited: so much for barring the rotten Argies from the ceremony. And, despite all the talk of bonds between the US Republican Party and the Tories, neither “Dubya” Bush, nor his dad, will be attending. The best the GOP can manage is someone to represent Nancy Reagan.

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has also declined his invitation due to health reasons. Neil Kinnock has – perhaps fortunately – committed to attend another funeral on the day, thus avoiding having to take a delicate decision, considering he once called the effect of her policieslethal ... absolutely bloody lethal”. But the cathedral will still be full.

Because there are all those former supporters, such as Messrs Rice and Lloyd Webber, who were enabled by enlightened Tory tax policy to take home more and bigger paycheques for Themselves Personally Now. Some of the names from broadcasting are predictable: former interviewers Frostie and Trevor McDonald, for instance. But some are frankly eyebrow raising.

Jeremy Clarkson? Why? Is this because he is part of the so-called Chipping Norton Set? For services to petrolheadery? Or is it a back-handed compliment for his acclaimed decking of Piers “Morgan” Moron? And Terry Wogan? Again, why? Does being a radio and television presenter and host of telethons and Eurovision song contests qualify someone to join the Great and the Good?

Whatever. But at least those of more questionable behaviour are being kept well away. Jim Davidson, for starters, will not be invited. And neither will former jailbirds like Jonathan Aitken. Oh, but wait, what’s this? Jeffrey Archer will be going? Er, where’s Michael Crick when you need him? Is this double standards? Well, no, it’s because Aitken dated and then dumped Carol Thatcher some years ago.

At least there seems to be no sign of invites for other disgraced right-wingers like Mostyn Neil Hamilton, who has now “come out” as, er, a UKIP supporter. And having the service on a Wednesday will at least give Young Dave the excuse not to face Mil The Younger across the Dispatch Box for PMQs. But it’s still going to cost millions in taxpayer funds to put on and police.

Whether it is worth it will, as with so much about Mrs T, depend on political stance.

[UPDATE1 1710 hours: it now appears that former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie has been invited to the funeral, and will attend. So that's another part of the UK (Merseyside) that is unlikely to be giving Mrs T the benefit of fond remembrance, then.

Add to that Andrew "Brillo Pad" Neil, former Sunday Times editor and double libeller of Carmen Proetta, a crucial witness to the Gibraltar shootings, who is also attending, and it seems the absence of Rupert Murdoch will be amply compensated for.

On top of that, as he is Mrs T's spokesman in these matters, it looks as if Tim (Lord) Bell will be there. So it seems any old wanker can turn up]

[UPDATE2 14 April 1750 hours: now it appears that another with a less than clean record, Gerald Ronson of Guinness share scandal infamy, is also on the guest list. Perhaps he has been nominated by the current PM for another of those second chances.

And the gushing coverage in the Mail has been guaranteed by inviting the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre, who will be silently angry throughout the service because someone outside St Paul's will be showing insufficient respect. On returning to Northcliffe House, he will explode in a cloud of expletives and order a passing pundit to write an immediate hatchet job.

As he is at least nominally a Tory and Mayor of London (when not being paid his "chicken feed" by the Maily Telegraph), Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson has been summoned to swell the ranks of the faithful. But chef Marco Pierre White? Why? Perhaps there is some difficulty getting 2,300 acceptances]


Anonymous said...

tim: if 'any old wanker' can turn up can you explain why paul dacre isn't invited?

Tim Fenton said...

I'm not sure about the Vagina Monologue. The "wanker" comment was aimed at Bell, who got a conviction for doing it at his window. Overlooking Hampstead Heath. In full view of the public.

Bob said...

If the grim reaper hadn't intervened - would a regular Christmas guest have been invited?..Now then etc