POLITICS

Nick Clegg Condemns 'Puerile' Margaret Thatcher Death Parties

11/04/2013 10:03 BST | Updated 11/04/2013 15:12 BST

Nick Clegg has condemned the "puerile" street parties being held to celebrate the death of former prime minister Margaret Thatcher.

The deputy prime minister told LBC on Thursday morning: "I don't think they speak for the county at all, these people who are jumping up and down with joy."

"I think it's totally out of keeping with actually the character of us as a nation, I'm not someone who agreed with all of what Thatcher did, that doesn't mean you can't acknowledge and pay tribute to what she was as a politician and her significance."

Clegg acknowledged "tempers rise immediately" when the former Tory leader's name is mentioned, but said 'death parties' were "completely puerile childish stuff".

On Monday evening police said they deployed officers to deal with around hundred people in Brixton causing "low level disorder including throwing missiles at officers." Two women were arrested on suspicion of burglary after a shop front was smashed. In Bristol six police officers were injured after a scuffle broke out at a party celebrating Thatcher's death.

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Clegg also defended the right of Thatcher supporters to argue in favour of a erecting a statue in her honour in central London.

"Of course she is a polarising figure, she is a controversial figure, I'm not going to begrudge her supporters the right to advocate there should be some statue," he said.

Former Thatcherite cabinet minister Lord Tebbit has controversially called for a statue to be erected in Trafalgar Square. "I think it would be appropriate for her to be honoured publicly in the centre of London. She could be in Trafalgar, where Nelson could keep an eye on her," he said.

Thatcher will receive a high profile ceremonial funeral at St Paul's Cathedral on Wednesday, due to be attended by the Queen as well as former prime ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

David Cameron has been criticised in some quarters for agreeing to stage the ceremony on Wednesday, meaning prime minister's questions will have to be cancelled.

Clegg said he had not spoken to the prime minister about it. "I haven't spoken to him about it, I guess it's a question of timing," he said. "You've got this ceremonial funeral, having the knockabout of PMQs might feel a bit odd."

Anti-Thatcher protesters have been urged to contact police if they wish to demonstrate in London on the day of the funeral.

"The right to protest is one that must be upheld," Commander Christine Jones of the Metropolitan Police Service said. "However, we will work to do that whilst balancing the rights of those who wish to pay their respects and those who wish to travel about London as usual."