POLITICS

Lord Kinnock Not Attending Margaret Thatcher's Funeral

11/04/2013 11:52 BST | Updated 11/04/2013 13:22 BST

Neil Kinnock has said he will not be attending Margaret Thatcher's funeral on Wednesday.

The former Labour leader has said he is unable to take part in the ceremonial funeral at St Paul's Cathedral next week as he is due to attend a funeral of a friend on the same day.

Lord Kinnock, who faced Thatcher over the Commons Despatch Box from 1983 until she stood down in 1990, survived as leader of the Opposition until he lost the 1992 general election against her successor, John Major.

Following Thatcher's death on Monday, Kinnock reflected on their rivalry. "Margaret Thatcher was not a malicious person," he said.

"She was a person who couldn’t see, or didn’t want to see the unfairness and disadvantaging consequences of the application of what she thought to be a renewing ideology."

He told the Daily Mirror Thatcherism was an "unmitigated disaster for Britain" inflicting "devastating harm" on the country.

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In a statement issued following her death he said: “I recognise and admire the great distinction of Baroness Thatcher as the first woman to become leader of a major UK political party and prime minister. I am sorry to hear of her death and offer my sympathy to her family.”

The funeral will be attended by the three living Labour leaders who followed Kinnock; Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband.

Ministers were yesterday forced to defend spending public money on the funeral of a figure who remains so controversial.

Downing Street confirmed that there would be a contribution made from Lady Thatcher's estate, but said the cost to the taxpayer would not be disclosed until after the service had taken place.

The event has been codenamed "True Blue", and a co-ordination committee will be meeting every day to finalise the arrangements.

Today, a spokesman for former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev said he would not be attending the funeral due to health problems.

The 82-year-old, who paid tribute to Lady Thatcher as a "heavyweight politician and a striking person" following her death on Monday, was widely rumoured to be one of many global figures to attend next week's ceremonial funeral.

Scotland Yard said today that it is working with City of London Police (CoLP) and British Transport Police (BTP) to finalise planning and preparations for the policing operation for the funeral.

Police officers will be stationed along the funeral cortege's route, and road closures will be in place, as well as a range of security measures.