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Thatcher's funeral 'an establishment charade' claims Labour AM

Although only party leaders paid tribute to Margaret Thatcher in the Assembly, the Labour AM Mick Antoniw has issued his own view of her premiership. He was a lawyer for the NUM during the miners' strike and in his assessment of the former Prime Minister's time in office addresses her directly.

During this period under your command, parts of Britain came close to becoming a police state. You used the police in the same way as foreign dictators have used the police to prevent lawful democratic action. There were communities that for periods of time were completely closed off to the public, under police control, where miners were arrested, beaten and their homes smashed up. Food donated by the public for hungry miners families was thrown out of lorries by the police to rot.

– Mick Antoniw, Labour AM for Pontypridd

Mr Antoniw said he is opposed to spending £10 million of public money on Baroness Thatcher's ceremonial funeral. He said it was 'an establishment charade'. He offered his own version of what she should have said on taking office, when she quoted St Francis of Assisi

In 1979 you said 'Where there is discord may we bring harmony, where there is despair may we bring hope'. In reality should you have said: 'where there is community and cooperation I will bring greed and selfishness, where there is freedom and democracy I will support dictatorship provided they have the same economic objectives as me, where working people strive to achieve a more just and equal society I will use the apparatus of the state to strike them down in support of the privileged, the rich, the powerful'.

Mr Antoniw, whose father was a Ukrainian who came to Britain after the Second World War, also broke with the political consensus that has praised Margaret Thatcher's role in ending the Cold War and causing the collapse of Soviet Communism.

It is claimed you brought the Soviet Union to an end. Well, as the son of a Ukrainian refugee, I campaigned all my life against the despotism of the Soviet Union. Most of my family were deported to the Gulag by Stalin, my uncle was killed in the partisan war in 1952, my aunt was arrested and tortured by the KGB yet I am not aware of anything you did to support those campaigns. In fact in 1988 as the Soviet Union was beginning to fall, you specifically opposed Ukrainian freedom.

– Mick Antoniw, Labour AM for Pontypridd

Let's prove Thatcher wrong - Plaid Cymru leader

Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood told AMs her contribution was not a tribute to Margaret Thatcher but remarks appropriate from a party leader. She said 'We could allow her passing to make us bitter' but she urged opponents to use that energy to 'overturn her legacy.'

Citing Mrs Thatcher's famous quotation, 'there is no such thing as society,' the Plaid leader said that 'in Wales we do not believe that's true...let us prove it wrong.'

First Minister tempers criticism with respect

The First Minister has led tributes in the Assembly chamber to Margaret Thatcher. Carwyn Jones expressed his sympathy to the former Prime Minister's family, paid tribute to her electoral successes and described her as an 'undoubtedly decisive person.'

But the First MInister said 'decisive does not necessarily mean being right' and said that many people in Wales still feel 'great bitterness' and 'great hurt' as a result of her political legacy.

Another Plaid AM to boycott Thatcher tributes

Plaid Cymru AM Bethan Jenkins has said she won't be in the Senedd Chamber for this afternoon's tributes to Margaret Thatcher. She's the third member of Plaid to confirm they're boycotting the session.

Mid and West Wales AM Simon Thomas and former Presiding Officer Dafydd Elis-Thomas have both said they won't attend. Party leader Leanne Wood says it's appropriate for her to make a contribution.

Bethan Jenkins says that while she believes it's right that AMs are allowed to mark the former Prime Minister's death, she doesn't feel able to take part because 'the adverse impact of her legacy is still being sharply felt in the community I grew up in.' She added

I deeply believe that while Mrs Thatcher may have changed Britain, she did not ‘save’ it, as some have claimed. She changed the Wales I grew up and live in for the worse. Her capitalist mantra of creative destruction only extended as far as the second part - destruction - for many of our communities as we knew and understood them. Her willingness to dismiss what happened in those communities as collateral damage, as she conducted personalised conflicts against the left, is not the kind of quality I expect in a Prime Minister.

Margaret Thatcher inspired me to get into politics. Not only because I fundamentally opposed her views, but because I realised she was not a feminist. I believe that it is important for female politicians to also be champions of women where possible. It is a huge shame that she never took the opportunity to bring other women up alongside her while in Government. Instead, she left a tarnished legacy when she should have been supporting women into public life.

– Bethan Jenkins AM, Plaid Cymru


Senedd tributes not the time for Thatcher attacks - Lib Dem leader

Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, Kirsty Williams says she'll use this afternoon's tribute session 'to recognise the important role Margaret Thatcher played in British and Welsh politics' rather than to launch a political attack.

The Brecon AM said she's 'not going to turn into Mrs Thatcher's number one fan because of her passing' but said that she was 'brought up to be respectful' at such times.

And she added that it's right that AMs are given the opportunity for 'a moment of reflection on the life of an individual who played a part in public life.'

Assembly to pay tribute to Thatcher

Assembly Members will pay tribute to Margaret Thatcher before First Minister's Questions in the Senedd chamber. But at least two AMs will boycott the session. Plaid Cymru AMs Simon Thomas and Dafydd Elis-Thomas, the former Presiding Officer, are refusing to take part.

However their leader, Leanne Wood, will contribute to the session as will First Minister Carwyn Jones. Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams and her group will also take part.

The session is due to begin at 1.30pm

Plaid AM to boycott Senedd Thatcher tributes

Plaid Cymru AM Simon Thomas says he won't be in the Senedd chamber for Tuesday's tributes to Margaret Thatcher. He's the second Plaid AM to do so: former Presiding Officer Dafydd Elis-Thomas has also said he'll boycott the session because he disagreed so profoundly with the former Prime Minister.

However Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood will be in the chamber to make a 'sensitive and respectful' contribution. Simon Thomas has uploaded a video to YouTube explaining his objections to the Assembly being turned into a 'mini-me of Parliament in Westminster...hide-bound to Westminster traditions.'

Four Welsh servicemen involved in Thatcher's funeral

A service rehearsal took place this morning Credit: John Stillwell/PA Wire

An airman from Prestatyn will be part of the Bearer Party carrying the Coffin of Baroness Thatcher at her funeral on Wednesday. Adam Jones, 23, is among eight military personel from all three services that will be involved in the service at St Pauls Cathedral.

The group will be followed by two Cap Orderlies, including Guardsman Sam Williams from Bangor, who will hold the caps of the eight bearers when they carry Lady’s Thatcher’s coffin.

Two Welsh Guardsmen who served in the Falklands conflict will walk behind the coffin. Major Nick Mott MBE will be joined by his brother Warrant Officer Class 1, Garrison Sergeant Major Bill Mott OBE MVO.

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