Debate: It is never appropriate to protest at a funeral, even Margaret Thatcher's


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The Independent Online


What's going on?

Protests were expected along the route of the ceremonial procession of Margaret Thatcher's funeral guard as the former Prime Minister is taken to St. Paul's Cathedral.

Police gave permission to demonstrators to turn their backs as the flag-draped coffin passes, while other protestors promised to make as much noise as possible to disrupt the solemn procession.

The bell of Big Ben will be silenced today in a mark of respect last given for the funeral of Sir Winston Churchill in 1965.

This comes on top of news that taxpayers will contribute to the £10m cost of the elaborate funeral.

Case for: Loutish

Even if you despised Margaret Thatcher's record in government, her funeral is not a good time to make your feelings known. We owe the dead respect, never more so than at this time. Ranting and raving would only be a publicity coup for Thatcherites. It would also no doubt appal many who share the sentiments expressed - but consider their expression at this time tasteless. Margaret Thatcher's family and children are in attendance. To them, it is a mother being laid to rest. This stage of mourning should never be interrupted.

Case against: Dignified

It would be ghoulish and immature to protest at a private funeral. But this is not a private funeral. Instead, it is a song and dance commissioned and co-ordinated by a Tory-led government keen to idolise one of their own. They have turned Mrs Thatcher's funeral into a public event, and protestors have the right to respond to it as such. Catcalling? Some might consider that inappropriate still, given the presence of Mrs Thatcher's family. But turning backs? That is a dignified and symbolically powerful response. It is vital that we don't allow this pseudo-beatification to go ahead in the spirit of consensus.