John Prescott, Bob Crow And Bishop Of Grantham Attack Thatcher's £10M Funeral

Labour's former deputy prime minister John Prescott has launched a blistering attack on the £10m cost of Margaret Thatcher's funeral.

Writing in his column in the Sunday Mirror, Lord Prescott said the ceremonial funeral at St Paul's Cathedral on Wednesday was simply a "political propaganda exercise" for the Tory Party.

"I despised everything she stood for. She may have been a woman, but in her policies she showed no compassion to the sick, needy and the desperate," he wrote.

Prescott: 'Privatise her funeral. It would be a fitting tribute'

"Even in death, she is spinning from her grave. She claimed she never wanted a state funeral, but she planned to give herself the same ceremonial one as the Queen Mother.

"And her 'children', the out-of-touch Tory Boys Cameron and Osborne, are getting YOU to foot the £10 million bill for the biggest political propaganda exercise this country has ever seen.

"Thatcher split this country, North and South, the haves and have nots, 'one of us' or 'the enemy within'. This country paid enough thanks to that woman. So why the hell should we continue to pay now she's dead?"

This afternoon, the Anglican bishop of Thatcher's home town joined the chorus of disapproval over the price, calling the scale and cost of the funeral a "mistake" which may play into the hands of extremists.

The Bishop of Grantham, The Rt Revd Dr Tim Ellis, said the ceremonial event was "asking for trouble" amid divisions about the late prime minister's legacy.

In an interview with BBC Radio Lincolnshire, the bishop was asked whether the organisers of the funeral had "got it right" given criticism of its cost to the public purse.

Dr Ellis replied: "I personally don't think that they have.

"I think that in a context where there is manifestly great ill-feeling about her tenure and about her legacy, to then actually have a situation where we seem to be expecting the nation to glorify that with a £10 million funeral... I think any sensible person would say that that is asking for trouble.

"It plays into the hands of those more extreme people who will use the funeral as an opportunity to promote certain political views."

The suffragan bishop, whose ministry covers south Lincolnshire, added: "I think it was probably a mistake.

"I think that perhaps what we should be doing is actually marking her as a person, perhaps somewhere in Grantham - a more low key but more personal way of marking that.

"And one which might bring together all the shades of opinion about her."

Earlier on Sunday, Prescott suggested the 13,000 millionaires who had each received £100,000 tax cut as a result of the Government's cut in the top rate of tax should instead each contribute £770 to pay for it.

"Privatise her funeral. It would be a fitting tribute," he wrote.

His words are in sharp contrast to Labour leader Ed Miliband who has been at pains to pay tribute to Lady Thatcher's achievements while at the same time acknowledging their political differences.

Separately, firebrand union leader Bob Crow has said he will mark the funeral of Thatcher by launching a new campaign to urge "angry and disaffected" workers to join a trade union.

The Rail Maritime and Transport union said it will use the "frenzy" which has followed the former prime minister's death as a recruitment opportunity.

Crow: 'Do something positive - join a union'

General secretary Crow announced a "Bury Thatcherism - Join a Union" initiative, saying he wanted something "positive" to happen on Wednesday.

"Since Margaret Thatcher died there has been an endless parade of Tory MPs and right-wing commentators across our TV screens mouthing off about how, with the support of the full apparatus of the state, her government set out to destroy the trade union movement with the intention of weakening working class strength and giving the boss class a clear run.

"Successive waves of anti-union laws were bulldozed through aimed at shackling the unions and turning working people into serfs while business and the bankers were de-regulated and given the green light to destroy the British economy culminating in the collapse of the banks in 2008.

"Those responsible for driving the economy over the cliff are still soaking up double-digit pay and bonus increases while working people, boxed in with Thatcher's anti-union laws, are left struggling to survive in a climate of attacks on public services, jobs, the welfare state and pay and working conditions. That is Margaret Thatcher's legacy today.

"So on Wednesday, while millions of pounds of public money that could go on schools on hospitals is blown on a funeral for Mrs Thatcher, those feeling angry and ignored can do something positive - join a union and encourage those around you to join too."

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