Thatcher’s funeral: Words and music reveal right-wing agenda
Margaret Thatcher's enemies were always going to be fed up by the respect afforded to the former prime minister in her funeral. But following the release of the order of service, the true extent to which right-wing politics pervades the words and music which will feature is now becoming clear. Here's a pick of the five most egregious examples which will have the Ding Dong parade screaming at their television on Wednesday.
Military pomp: Circumstance demands it, Maude argues
Thatcher's reputation as a war leader is cemented by the strong military presence at her funeral. Forget the in-pensioners of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, who will line the west steps of the cathedral. That was primarily a side-effect of Thatcher's charitable relationship with the organisation – and the fact she began attending chapel there after 2002. No, what matters here are the masses of armed forces being used to march her to the grave.
Just consider the list: the Royal Navy and Royal Marines, The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery, The Household Cavalry, Foot Guards, Tri-Service Bands and Corps of Drums of the Household Division, members of the Parachute Regiment, Royal Engineers, the Royal Gurkha Rifles, The Honourable Artillery Company and the Royal Air Force are all participating. This is no small-scale affair.
Capping it all will be the tri-Service bearer party, which the order of service is "found by Arms and Service represented in the Falklands". They fought for her, and now they bury her. It will be very powerful, emotionally. And finally, decisively, casting a blessing on her actions.
"Of course with any funeral of any former prime minister the state inevitably plays a big role," Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude told Sky News' Murnaghan programme this morning.
"Normally of course there would be a funeral followed by a memorial service. She was very adamant that she didn't want that, she wanted a single service. So this needs to be a fitting event for a very great lady."
Not all agree. Labour's former deputy prime minister John Prescott has complained about the cost of the funeral, thought to be around the £10 million mark, in his Sunday Mirror column.
"This country paid enough thanks to that woman. So why the hell should we continue to pay now she's dead?"
I Vow To Thee My Country: 'Echoing Nazism'
Inbetween the anthem and the commendation comes one of the Anglican Church's most nationalistic hymns. I Vow To Thee My Country is so jingoistic one bishop called for it to be banned outright because of its "heretical" approach to the country.
I vow to thee my country all earthly things above / Entire and whole and perfect, the service of my love: / The love that asks no question, the love that stands the test, / That lays upon the altar the dearest and the best; / The love that never falters, the love that pays the price, / The love that makes undaunted the final sacrifice.
The hymn was sung at Princess Diana's funeral but was criticised by the Bishop of Hulme the Rt Rev Stephen Lowe, in 2004, for calling for unquestioning loyalty to the nation-state.
He told the Today programme in August 2004: "The government under the Queen in this country is actually the representation of this country and it has all the… echoes of 1930s nationalism in Germany and some of the nastier aspects of right wing republicanism in the United States."
Amanda Thatcher's reading: Fighting the rulers of darkness
Thatcher's granddaughter will be sending a clear message with her reading, Ephesians 6. 10-18, which outlines in the exquisite prose of the King James Bible some handy hints for the faithful pursuing robust foreign policies. The trick is to "put on the whole armour of God". Why? "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." This sort of language fits well with Tory politics. Its shades of the Soviet "evil empire" Thatcher combated alongside Ronald Reagan fit in well with the black-and-white philosophy of this thoroughly medieval approach to religion. There's no point compromising with "the fiery darts of the wicked", after all.
He Who Would Valiant Be: Thatcher's leadership style distilled
This hymn, No 10 says, features because "its words reflected her philosophy". It sets words by John Bunyan extolling the virtues of being a good wet to music. "He who would valiant be / 'gainst all disaster," it begins, posing the question: What do good pilgrims need to do to win approval? "Let him in constancy / Follow the Master," the hymn answers. The path to salvation is by slavishly following the leader. "There's no discouragement / Shall make him once relent / His first avowed intent / To be a pilgrim." Or to privatise this or that, of course.
David Cameron's reading: The prime minister as Jesus
This might just be the oddest part of the service. The prime minister occupies an elevated position anyway, but the first part of his reading of John 14.1-6 he will be outlining the advice of Jesus Christ to the faithful. This might baffle some of those watching. Let's hope the Bishop of London will be able to explain what it all means shortly afterwards.
"Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you."
The Bidding: Thoroughly pro-Thatcher
Perhaps the most surprisingly overt politicisation of the service comes in the words which will be said by the Very Reverend David Ison, the Dean of St Paul's, who will explain why "we come to this Cathedral today". In addition to "giving thanks for her life and work", the purpose of the funeral is to pay tribute to the contribution she made to the nation.
Ison will add: "We recall with great gratitude her leadership of this nation, her courage, her steadfastness, and her resolve to accomplish what she believed to be right for the common good. We remember the values by which she lived, the ideals she embraced, her dignity, her diligence, her courtesy, and her personal concern for the well-being of individuals."