Despite Gordon Brown (texture like sun) having suggested that Thatcher WOULD have state funeral (read my earlier post here), Harriet told reporters that in fact, it hadn’t been agreed. A big pat on the back for Ms Harman – read the article from the Guardian below:
Harman: we have not agreed Thatcher state funeral
The government has not agreed to grant Lady Thatcher a state funeral, contrary to reports last month, Labour’s deputy leader, Harriet Harman, said yesterday.
Harman, who ended her week in charge of the government yesterday, declined to comment on whether a state funeral should be held, but said she had been told by other senior figures in the government that no decision to hold a state funeral had been made.
“There is no arrangement on this and those stories are not accurate,” she said.
Reports about the possibility of a state funeral for Thatcher first emerged last month. The Mail on Sunday said that the Queen and Gordon Brown were in discussions with Thatcher’s private office concerning the arrangements, although it added that plans for a formal procession could be jeopardised by a lack of troops to line the route as the armed forces were overstretched in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The report was not denied by the government and caused uproar among Labour party members. The Guardian’s letters page was inundated with readers furious at such a honour being granted to someone whose policies were blamed for costing thousands of people their jobs.
“Thatcher should only be allowed a state funeral if the contract is put out to compulsory competitive tender and awarded to the lowest bidder. Any offers?” was one of the more polite responses from readers.
The last former prime minister to be given a state funeral was Sir Winston Churchill. State funerals are routinely accorded only to monarchs, although Buckingham Palace was forced into a compromise following the sudden death of Princess Diana in 1997.
Harman was speaking at the end of a week in which she had briefly held the reins of government, the first woman to do so since Lady Thatcher left Downing Street in 1990.
She modestly described her week in power as “minding the shop”.
During her week in Downing Street she revealed that she had been helping to coordinate a government initiative designed to improve home insulation and protect the elderly from the impact of rising energy prices this autumn.
Harman was speaking as she prepared to hand over the reins to Alistair Darling, the chancellor, who will be in charge for the second week of Gordon Brown’s holiday in Suffolk. Harman’s only comment about the political story that has dominated the week’s headlines – whether or not David Miliband is planning a leadership challenge to the prime minister – was elliptical.
“For all the speculation about whether Humphrey the cat [the former No 10 cat] is going to be the next leadership contender, and that was taking up acres of pages, the No 10 agenda was on the economy,” she said.
Harman added: “The really big striking contrast between working at No 10 and government departments is the extent to which the economy dominates … whether it is gas prices, mortgage starts, the insolvencies, the EDF takeover of British energy – all the economic news that is about people’s standard of living and prospects for the future.” She also disclosed that there was “big work” under way to help the most vulnerable with their fuel bills.
“We have to … make sure that everything is put in place as much as possible to make sure they are fully protected,” she said.
Harman’s work last week included coordinating government meetings, but not chairing formal cabinet committees.
She said she been pleased she had been there to make sure there had been “a proper reflection of the domestic homicide announcement”, the Justice Department’s decision to reform the law on murder.
She added: “It was also very timely for me to be there at the 10th anniversary of the national minimum wages, since I helped to invent the Low Pay Commission when I was in opposition as a shadow employment secretary.”
But did Gordon Brown prove to be bit of a backseat driver from his home in Suffolk?
“He was not at all ringing up saying ‘don’t do this or do that,’ but Gordon and I have worked together for 25 years so we kind of understand each other,” Harman said.