SIR – There can be no doubt that Mrs [Margaret] Thatcher has had a strong influence in shaping modern Britain.

It is ironic that in her death, as in her life, she should prove to be as divisive and capable of arousing equally strong, almost violent emotions both for and against her – few seem to be able to respond to her name without emotion.

Fortunately, history will be the best judge of her career not the cheerleaders and boo boys of today whose automatic and unthinking response is more reminiscent of the football terraces.

However, the granting of what amounts to a state funeral at taxpayers’ expense is surely totally inappropriate (and quite probably not what she would have wanted for herself).

And yes, I am aware that this is not a real state funeral as that would have required legislation but, as with most politically inspired and motivated gestures, we all know what the real intention is – the fact that it has not been authorised by Parliament makes it less appropriate, not more.

A state funeral is a gathering together of the country in an act of unity to honour someone universally recognised to have benefited the country.

This funeral, unfortunately, does not unite us and only serves to open up old, deep wounds – a quieter, less overtly public ceremony would surely have been better. Mrs Thatcher was not a Churchill, Nelson or Wellington. She was unquestionably a strong leader, but only time can define whether or not she was a great leader of our country (rather than the Conservative Party) in being the architect of, rather than the catalyst for, much-needed social change.

The opinions of those who seek to hijack a distorted and self-serving interpretation of her memory to advance their own small-minded political ends serves neither her nor this country well.

They hope, by associating their names with her, that some of her charisma will rub off on them – if only it was that easy. She deserves to be remembered both for the good and the bad things (she will be impossible to forget), but she should be remembered objectively and dispassionately for who and what she was, for her successes and her failures equally. We will certainly not see her like again.