Party leaders are all Thatcher's children

Baroness Thatcher

A wake is, you might think, no time to stage a political debate. And so it proved today at Westminster. Many of those who loathed Margaret Thatcher's politics chose to stay away or stay silent or to mute their views.

It would, though, be a mistake to imagine that this was a day shorn of political significance.

David Cameron will hope that his tribute to a woman who he said had rescued the country and made it great again will help convince his party that he wants to be heir to Thatcher and not, as he allegedly once said, heir to Blair.

Ed Miliband left it to a handful of his backbenchers to express the deep anger felt in many Labour hearts. Walking a political tightrope with great skill he staked out the ground on which he agreed as well as disagreed with the woman who, he said, had defined the age. It was, perhaps, a signal to the Tory press to worry a little less about Red Ed.

It was Nick Clegg who looked and sounded least comfortable - forced to speak alongside a Conservative Prime Minister about a Conservative icon whose policies, it was clear, had repulsed this boy from a wealthy and privileged background.

When Margaret Thatcher first entered Number 10 the Prime Minister and his Deputy were both 12 years old. The Leader of the Opposition just 9. Just under half of current Members of Parliament were still children.

Today proved that today's political leaders are all Thatcher's children whether they like it or not.

Nick Robinson, Political editor Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

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