Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Margaret Thatcher, dementia and state funerals

Baroness Thatcher's daughter Carol has come out with a startling revelation in a new book being serialised in the Press: apparently Carol's mother is not only suffering from dementia but the condition first became apparent 8 years ago. Now I'm not a passionate fan of Margaret Thatcher but I do have a very healthy regard for her daughter to the same degree I fervently dislike Carol's twin brother Mark. Carol Thatcher comes over as someone I would feel very happy to converse with and I can imagine the great shock she got when she realised the nature of her mother's illness. Like her or loathe her, agree with her beliefs or not, there is no doubting that our former prime minister had a razor sharp brain at the height of her powers. The cruel aspect of dementia then is the effect it has on the victim's nearest and dearest. I suspect Carol thought long and hard about revealing this information to the public and it is good that it has come from her. As in the case of Ronald Reagan in the States one can expect this illness to become much more high profile as a result of someone of Margaret Thatcher's standing succumbing to it.

I remember an occasion some little while ago when I was asked to explain something about which by chance I knew a good deal to someone looking for advice. Now this other person would normally have been very much my intellectual superior and it came as a shock that trying to explain things in a way that an eight year old could comprehend wasn't doing the trick. So I can imagine the difficulty of living with a person who doesn't seem to be with it for much of the time must be incredibly stressful.

Prior to Carol Thatcher's revelation there had been talk about whether her mother should have a State Funeral when the time came. My answer on this one is "emphatically not!". The reasoning from my perspective is that an overwhelming consensus from the people of this country is needed if this is to take place. Now the lady still polarises opinion, sure she set this country on a different path but in itself that doesn't justify a state funeral. Politically one of the most significant events of the last century in Britain was our flirtation with socialism, this altered the balance between employer and employee, between the state and the individual but in our modern consumer driven society it was considered by the majority to have served its purpose and it became obvious to Tony Blair that Labour had to go against some of its root principles to get re-elected. Even if the majority (secretly) think what she did was right for Britain there are huge numbers of people who are still rankled by the word "Thatcher".

As to a state funeral for her then - no way!

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