Sir Bernard, who died this month aged 90, was a political giant of the Thatcher era, a straight-talking Northerner and a journalist to his bones. He was a passionate advocate for Margaret Thatcher’s vision for Britain (earning the nickname “Thatcher’s Rottweiler”) and, for a boy brought up in the modest Yorkshire town of Hebden Bridge, he carried remarkable political clout.
As Express columnist and friend Leo McKinstry said: “At the peak of his remarkable career in the 1980s, he had more political influence than most Cabinet Ministers.”
Today fellow giants of political journalism attended Sir Bernard’s funeral at the church of St Mary the Virgin, in Bletchingley, in Surrey.
Sky News Chief political correspondent Jon Craig was joined by Press Association boss and former Express deputy editor Paul Potts and the Sun’s legendary political editor Trevor Kavanagh, among many others.
In an address Mr Kavanagh called Sir Bernard a “warm and kind man” and added: “He was the legendary voice of one of the most respected and influential prime ministers in the world. When Bernard spoke the world listened.
“But he loved journalism and journalists. He barked but he never bit.”
Fellow Downing St press officer Charles Anson added: “Mrs Thatcher trusted Bernard absolutely.
“He rarely minced his words and loved a good argument. He loved the cut and thrust of politics – he hated the idea of spin doctors but was a brilliant advocate of Mrs Thatcher’s approach to government – of getting things done.”
It fell to Sir Bernard’s son John, a Daily Express legend himself, to remind the congregation Sir Bernard was first and foremost a father and devoted family man.
He said: “He was larger than life and a force of nature. He was seen as Beelzebub in human form to some, but to me he was just my dad, and he was a great dad.
“These days if you have any level of success it has become fashionable to boast how awful your upbringing was… but I can’t do that.
“He was certainly a workaholic but whenever I needed him he was there.”
Sir Bernard was born in 1932 in Halifax and brought up in Hebden Bridge. His mum and dad were Labour supporters, and the young Sir Bernard even stood as a Labour councillor.
He became editor of the Hebden Bridge Times at just 19 – the start of a lifetime in and around journalism.
However, in 1967 he took a job as Whitehall press officer which would see him negotiate the tumultuous and heavily unionised 1970s.
Sir Bernard once said the militancy of the decade convinced him to take the job as Margaret Thatcher’s right hand man – where he became arguably the most influential press secretary in Whitehall history.
More recently Sir Bernard became a columnist for both Express.co.uk and the Yorkshire Post – whom he was still filing copy for almost until his death on February 24.
*This story has not been edited by The Infallible staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.