A White House snub as leaders and stars meet

THE 2,300-strong guestlist for Baroness Thatcher’s funeral mixed political heavyweights with the stars of 1980s light entertainment, although some absentees were as notable as those who attended.

Despite US President Barack Obama issuing an effusive tribute to the Iron Lady after she died last Monday, he declined to send a senior member of his administration to pay her tribute in person.

Three Republicans did however attend on behalf of the US House of Representatives, sent by the Speaker John Boehner.

Hillary Clinton, Obama’s secretary of state until January, had also been invited but did not make the journey across the Atlantic.

Argentina’s ambassador also decided not to attend after the UK failed to invite Argentine President Cristina Fernandez, at the Thatcher family’s request. Tensions between Argentina and Britain have risen recently, raising memories of Thatcher’s victory against Argentine aggression in 1982.

Neil Kinnock, Labour leader during the 1980s, also declined in order to attend a friend’s funeral in Wales.

The leaders of France and Germany decided they had better places to be but 11 serving Prime Ministers took the time to attend.

There was a particularly strong Polish contingent, with the current Prime Minister, foreign minister and finance minister all present, in addition to former President Lech Walesa. All paid tribute to Lady Thatcher’s role in helping to bring down communism in Eastern Europe. Thatcher’s visit to Gdansk in 1988 made her the first western leader to meet with Walesa, leader of the trade union Solidarity.

Glamour was provided by actress Joan Collins – a former Tory who is now a Ukip supporter – as well as Welsh singer Dame Shirley Bassey, presenter Sir Terry Wogan and Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson.