I am puzzled! Big Ben is to be silenced for the funeral of Margaret Thatcher tomorrow. It wasn’t silenced for Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother’s funeral nor for the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales and in fact the last time it was silenced was for the State Funeral of Winston Churchill. So why is it being silenced tomorrow?
We keep being told that this isn’t a State Funeral but a Ceremonial Funeral. It seems almost impossible to tell the difference.
“The scale and the cost to the taxpayer of the funeral has been criticised by public figures including the Bishop of Grantham, Lord Prescott and George Galloway. It has been widely reported that the event will cost £10m. Previous ceremonial funerals have included "opportunity costs", which would have been incurred anyway if staff were assigned to other operations.” The Guardian 16th April
To the cost of the funeral must be added the cost of the absurdity of bringing MP’s back from their holidays early to pay tributes to Lady Thatcher in the House of Commons at an amount up to £3,700. It seems that there are moves afoot to hide the true cost. In today’s Guardian it is reported that Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office Minister in charge of organising Thatcher's funeral – Operation True Blue – has …. come under fire amid accusations that he is planning to conceal the event's true costs from the public by omitting the wage bills of police officers and service personnel. Maude said the money paid to uniformed officers should not be included when calculating the overall costs to the public purse, an accounting manoeuvre that breaks with precedent. Calculations of the costs of the Queen Mother and Princess Diana's funeral included the costs of paying police and the armed services.”
It seems to me to be ironic that in a period of financial stringency we, as a country, can afford to spend this sort of money on a semi-state funeral whilst people are so impoverished that they have to rely on food banks.