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The legacy of Margaret Thatcher, and her funeral in St Paul’s

26 April 2013


From Dr Martyn Halsall

Sir, - A snatch of historic newsreel and the ludicrous spiritualism-with-hagiography film The Iron Lady hardly offer sufficient evidence for the defence of Margaret Thatcher which was attempted by Canon Angela Tilby (Comment, 19 April).

If Canon Tilby honestly wishes to assess the feminist impact of Lady Thatcher's policies, she should exchange Oxford cloisters for discussions with women in the former coalfield communities that Thatcher savaged as "the enemy within".

Nor should she confuse political passion with misogyny or hatred. Thatcher and Thatcherism were motivated by a calculating cynicism about the human condition which Christians should oppose, because their faith includes God's alternative potential. Theologically, it cashed in on the Fall, exploiting human selfishness for political power by elevating individual greed - notably through privatisation - above communal concern.

Christian opposition to Thatcherism was profound, and should continue. Her legacy includes the arrogant incompetence of the Cameron Coalition. A Christian theologian should not just write "That's it," among lengthening dole queues, guerilla warfare against education and the NHS, and a Government-sponsored gulf between the needy and the over-privileged.

Christians should be praying and working for the healing of our deeply divided country in the aftermath of Lady Thatcher's funeral. The gun carriage may have been returned to the stable, but the child born in a stable continues to inspire an alternative Kingdom.

The Vicarage, Bridekirk
Cockermouth CA13 0PE


From the Revd Hugh Wright

Sir, - I never much liked Margaret Thatcher, but I appreciated her funeral and the affectionate words of her friend the Bishop of London, who was doing only what most clergy do at most funerals, that is, speaking of the best in a person.

I also appreciated Canon Angela Tilby's words about her in last week's Church Times, which drew to mind the supercilious prejudice held against her by many men.

Nevertheless, before we get too revisionist, let us remember some of the language that she used about her foes, which, for all her undoubted faith, was not very Christian. "One of us", on her lips, had nothing to do with the incarnational solidarity spoken of by Bishop Chartres, but spoke of purely tribal affiliation to a certain kind of Tory politics. Schoolboy language such as "wet", applied to people who showed compassion to victims of government cuts, is a degrading word that should have no place in national discourse. Finally, to refer to bishops who criticised her for similar reasons as "cuckoos", as she did, is insulting and boorish.

I do not doubt that she was personally courteous to many people, but in her language she coarsened the public discourse and paid little attention to Jesus's call to "love our enemies". We should not forget that.

St John's Vicarage
Victoria Crescent
Ryde PO33 1DQ


From Mr Bill King

Sir, - The first time I heard the expression "marmalade-dropper" was listening to the late Lord Deedes describe the effect that a good headline might make.

Initially, I resisted reading your obituary of Lady Thatcher (Gazette, 12 April). Being of an age and from mining stock, I found the various fawning eulogies by Brutus and his like a tad nauseating.

Then I succumbed, and it happened: the marmalade dropped. Well done.

Tanglewood, Grantham Road
Old Somerby, Grantham
Lincs. NG33 4AB


From Mr Richard Meredith

Sir, - Amanda Thatcher, at St Paul's Cathedral, gave us a magnificent example of how to bring the Bible to life in public worship. Is it too much to hope that those involved in training clergy and laity in communications skills have recorded her reading, and will use it to raise standards in, and make a priority of, the public proclamation of scripture?

334 Beacon Road
Loughborough LE11 2RD

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