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Thank you, Gordon Brown

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By Paul Goodman

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A last word on the controversies over Margaret Thatcher's state-funeral-in-all-but-name.  I believe that it was right to honour her in this way, others will think it was wrong, but there should at least be agreement on one point.  The arrangements were drawn up under, and to some extent by, New Labour - under Tony Blair and, especially, Gordon Brown.

I've been critical of Brown for not attending the Commons for the Thatcher tributes - he's the only former Prime Minister entitled to be there, and he should have cancelled his other commitments to do so.  But it's evident that he had a good look at the funeral plans during his time in office, especially in the early months before he funked calling an early election in the autumn of 2007.  The historian in him will have thoroughly grasped Lady Thatcher's significance.

Mind you, the sceptic in me is mindful that, during that first period of his premiership, David Cameron was in a very weak position.  It saw the aftermath of the grammar school row, and a Conservative plunge in the polls.  The Telegraph and Mail were on Cameron's back.  The Spectator's Conservative conference edition cover sketched him with a noose round his neck.

Baroness Thatcher's extensively-photographed Downing Street visit to meet Brown just so happened to coincide with these testing months. (Like a lot of Brown's tactical ploys, it backfired with his own party.)  Still, credit where credit's due.  Never mind the motive.  Thank you, Gordon Brown.