Once again, it seems, Mrs Thatcher has been invited to Downing Street by Gordon Brown.
In a photo opportunity that one must assume was arranged to please the voters of southern England rather than those of his own North Britain, Mr Brown once again stood on the doorstep of Number 10 with the Baroness: The Iron Lady and the Tin Man.
The occasion was the unveiling of the portrait that Mr Brown commissioned of his heroine for the stairway of the prime minister’s official London residence. The honour is immense considering that normally only photographs to 20th century prime ministers are hung in Downing Street, the exceptions being David Lloyd George and Winston Churchill. She is also thought to be the first living prime minister to have a portrait hung there. Mr Brown was applauded warmly when he praised Thatcher’s determination and resolution, by an audience of her friends and colleagues from her period in office together with David Cameron. He continued, and this from a sometime Scotsman, and a Labour one at that: "You were a great leader and I want to thank you for the great service you gave to our country". Obviously Brown meant it when he said he was a North Britishman.
This is not Mrs Thatcher’s first visit to Downing Street since Mr Brown took over as prime minister in 2007. Shortly after his appointment he invited the baroness to take tea, and presented her with a tea service, a sensible use of money as doubtless it was just what she needed. She was later invited to Chequers, the prime ministers country estate to take luncheon. It is also rumoured that Brown has put in place plans to give her a state funeral, an honour normally reserved for monarchs.
Clearly Mr Brown and Mrs Thatcher enjoy a touching closeness. I hope that the SNP will use photographs of these two together in the election campaign which has already started, to remind the people of Scotland who Mr Brown’s friends are.