Big TV switched off for Margaret Thatcher funeral

The big screen in Festival Square will be switched off. Picture: Cate Gillon
The big screen in Festival Square will be switched off. Picture: Cate Gillon
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THE funeral of Margaret Thatcher will not be shown on the Capital’s big screen over fears it could become a focal point for public disorder.

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The TV screen in Festival Square, installed to show public events, will be turned off when the former PM is laid to rest on Wednesday. The decision has been taken after police fears the square may become a gathering point for protesters and public disorder. A council spokesman said: “Dedicated coverage of Margaret Thatcher’s funeral will not be shown on the big screen in Festival Square.”

In total there are 22 such screens, jointly-operated by the BBC and local authorities, in the UK, and each council has been given the option of showing Baroness Thatcher’s funeral. So far it is understood only Swindon Borough Council has agreed to show it.

City centre Tory councillor Joanna Mowat said of Edinburgh’s decision: “On matters such as this I think it’s best to listen to and take advice from the police. However, I do think it’s terribly upsetting that people have so little respect that we cannot trust the populace to behave in a way that would not put people in danger.”

Former Conservative MSP and Evening News columnist Brian Monteith said: “It says a lot about Scottish society that some people can’t yet come to terms with Margaret Thacher’s legacy.

“Those that seek to protest her death actually give her a backhanded compliment in that she affected so much they just can’t stomach it.”

Deputy city leader and SNP group leader Steve Cardownie said that while he could understand police concerns about the funeral broadcast, “a little perspective” was needed. He said: “We’re not talking about Mussolini or Hitler here. I was vastly opposed to many of her policies and was heavily involved in both the Civil Service and miners’ strikes but I can’t see why anybody would wish to celebrate the death of a frail old woman who suffered from Alzheimer’s.”

Lady Thatcher will not have a state funeral but gets the same status as Princess Diana and the Queen Mother – full military honours.

No regiment from Scotland will travel to the service. Instead, the Scots Guards will be represented by F Company, who are based in London for high-level ceremonial matters.