Margaret Thatcher funeral: Welsh miners pay respect despite anger towards the former Tory prime minister
Traditional Welsh respect for the dead has ensured that few have an appetite for public protest
Wednesday 17 April 2013
A few former miners from South Wales travelled to London today to witness the funeral of Baroness Thatcher.
Anger towards the former Tory prime minister remains strong throughout former mining communities, particularly in South Wales.
But the traditional Welsh respect for the dead has ensured that few have an appetite for public protest.
The death of Lady Thatcher has stirred bitter memories in communities struggling still with the legacy of the miners' strike.
Wayne Thomas, general secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) in Wales, still feels anger towards her.
As a 22-year-old miner based in the Swansea Valley during 1984, his experiences of a year on strike have left an indelible mark.
It is no surprise to learn that few, if any, former miners will be shedding a tear today at the demise of an old adversary.
Mr Thomas believes that the only fitting epitaph for Baroness Thatcher's grave would be "May God Forgive Her".
But respect for the dead and those mourning her death today is, nevertheless, high.
The NUM was a political force in the country with the power to bring down governments when Mrs Thatcher became prime minister in 1979.
Today, although massive mine closures mean the union is a shadow of its former self, the NUM's approach is one of respect.
It is not involved in protests, celebrations or any organised gathering to mark Baroness Thatcher's death, positively or negatively.
In fact, the union has declared today a holiday for all of its staff in "recognition of the effect she had".
Mr Thomas said: "My view on the matter is quite clear - I do think that we should show respect for the family of Mrs Thatcher. They have lost a loved one.
"There are grieving family members and we should respect that."
He said the NUM had made no effort to organise protests against the former PM, though some had a "celebratory drink" when news of her death was announced.
He added, however, that he felt her death has reopened the debate on what she did during her 11-year premiership.
"I think it has reopened the debate on the rights and wrongs of what she did. But that is a debate for after she has been buried.
"I do think that people are trying to airbrush away how horrendous her policies actually were."
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