Harlow latest

12:43 Wednesday 17 April 2013  Written by CHRIS MOSS

Labour and Conservative councillors clash over Harlow Council's Union flag tribute to former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher

THE flag at Harlow Council’s Civic Centre headquarters is being flown at half mast today (Wednesday, April 17) as a mark of respect to former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Conservative councillors had demanded the gesture was made on the day of the late Baroness’s funeral, but the council’s Labour administration only complied after the Queen issued a “special command” to local authorities.

A council spokesman explained: “The protocol is that the Union Flag is only flown at half mast upon the death of the Sovereign or to mark the death of a former Prime Minister where the Queen issues a Special Command.

“The Queen has now issued a Special Command and the Union Flag will be flown outside the Civic Centre at half mast today.”

Earlier, Labour and Tory councillors clashed over the issue on social networking site Twitter.

Conservative leader Andrew Johnson blasted the Labour-controlled authority for “refusing” an earlier request from his group for the Union flag to be flown at half-mast - leading Labour’s Jon Clempner to stress that the mark of respect would only be made if and when the Queen requested it.

“Oh please Andrew!” he tweeted. “As you know the flag is only flown at half mast for the death of the sovereign or at her/his request.”

But Cllr Johnson hit back, accusing the Labour group of being “disrespectful”.

“Refusing to fly flag is disrespect. Insisting on order from queen for funeral day is disrespect. We would never have done same,” he tweeted.

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