I doubt Major would have been obliged to attend John Smith's funeral as John Smith wasn't a Prime Minister or head of state.
I read neither the Daily Mail nor the Daily Mirror. However, if links are provided to either in connection with a post then I will read them so that I know what the post is about.
The licence fee IS a tax. We are obliged by law to pay it. Hence where the BBC is concerned we are all taxpayers and it is right that we are all represented.
I think protocol dictates that if a senior serving politician (John Smith was leader of the opposition at the time) dies in office the prime minister is obliged to attend. It would be regarded as highly unusual had he not.