Anger after council fails to lower flag for Thatcher

The coffin bearing the body of Baroness Thatcher is moved from the Palace of Westminster

The coffin bearing the body of Baroness Thatcher is moved from the Palace of Westminster

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A WIGAN miner’s grandson has blasted the council for failing to lower town hall flags during former Tory Premier Margaret Thatcher’s funeral.

Now there are calls for the authority to re-write its protocol to ensure that ex-Prime Ministers are honoured in future “irrespective of political affiliation”.

Leader of the council Lord Peter Smith said today that although Baroness Thatcher was a “significant and effective” Prime Minister, many of the policies she pursued while in office “divided opinion” across the country.

He said: “Here in Wigan borough, an area of mining and industrial heritage, feelings about those policies remain strong and raw among communities impacted by them.

“Respecting such feelings, the council felt it would not be appropriate to mark Lady Thatcher’s funeral by flying flags from our civic buildings.

“However, we extend out sympathies to her family and friends.

But former opposition councillors rounded on the decision.

Ashton’s Paul Tushingham, whose grandfather Wilfrid Moore spent all his working life underground at long-gone Garswood Hall Colliery, described the decision as “disgraceful”.

The ex-independent councillor said that: “I love to see the Union flag being flown over civic buildings but on occasions such as this, irrespective of what the political policies of the council are, that flag should have been flying at half mast.

“I was particularly disappointed that Wigan seems to be one of the minority of the councils in the north west which has decided not to lower the flag as a sign of respect.

“I spoke to the council and they told me that basically it didn’t think it was the appropriate thing to do because of what has happened over the years past and I think they are referring to the miners strike.

“Some people are clearly myopic and I am particularly disappointed that the council have decided to go down a political line but what they are failing to remember is the winter of discontent which you could argue was the reason she came to power, as well as being our first female Prime Minister and won who won successive elections to remain in power for so many years.

“In terms of the miners strike, history has demonstrated that the NUM leader Arthur Scargill took all the miners out on strike without a national ballot and he was clearly intent on attempting to bring the Government down.

“A lot of people in this area greatly benefited from Margaret Thatcher’s policies including the right to buy their own council houses and how many businesses now are benefiting from these Young Enterprise schemes?”