Thursday, April 11, 2013

If she were (as those who knew who said she would have wished) having a quiet, private funeral in a   dignified location, attended only by family, close colleagues and maybe one invited photographer then political demonstrations of any kind would be unthinkable. 

Someone would probably still think about them, but they would be unthinkable. 

As it is, her funeral is being orchestrated by the Tory party as a Tory party political event to beatify a former leader of the Conservative Party.

Falklands themed funeral? Falkands themed funeral? With some Chalky White jokes from Jim Davidson, a revue by the Black and White Minstrels and a special celebratory episode of Jim'll Fix It, I shouldn't wonder. The policing of the funeral has actually been code-named "Operation True Blue".

So the question is not "Should we desecrate a private, religious event by holding a party political demonstration?" Of course we shouldn't. I understand that after his assassination, Osama Bin Laden was given as dignified a funeral as possible, according to the tenets of his faith. Myra Bloody Hindley was given a quick, dignified send-off in a municipal crem. [*]

But that is not the question. The question is "Given that the Tory Party has already decided to take what should, indeed, be a private, religious event and turn it into a party political demonstration should the Left a: do nothing or b: have a demonstration of their own to show that no, actually,  there is NO consensus, NO unanimity and that T.B.W is NOT the best loved English person since Churchill." 

Only a complete shit would march into Canterbury Cathedral and disrupt a solemn mass on Easter Sunday because he doesn't like the political views of the Archbishop of Canterbury. But if the Archbishop of Canterbury announced that he was going to hold a special mass to pray that all members of the banking profession should be damned for eternity, followed by the ceremonial excommunication of Sir James Crosby, I think that would probably be the wrong moment to say "I don't think it is right for the Banking Community to complain about what is essentially a private, sacred, religious event." The more strongly the Left threw up a police cordon around the Cathedral and said that dissent had to be prohibited because there was no dissent and everyone agreed with the Bishop anyway except the Right who don't count, the more important it would be for some kind of  counter demonstration to be hold. 

English British Prime Ministers don't generally have big public funerals. Churchill is the last one who did. That was a state funeral. This one technically won't be. The Daily Mail thinks that this proves that the Queen and David Cameron have been infiltrated by The Left. It is an "insult" that T.B.W will only have the same kind of funeral as the Queen Mother and the Princess of Wales, in the same way that is an insult to Christians that vegetarians also have a legal right to have their beliefs respected. (This is perfectly true and not something I made up.)

The whole point of the posthumous exaltation of T.B.W is to manufacture a false consensus. Love of T.B.W and support for the Conservative party, like love of the Queen and support for the Monarchy are not political points of view, they are a base-line neutral position which all British people agree with. [**] If you don't love the Queen, T.B.W and the Tory Party then you aren't British. Once we ignored all the dissenting voices then 100% of those questioned agreed with us. There will be no art, no science, no literature, no enjoyment, no laughter, but the laughter of triumph over a defeated enemy. There will be no love but the love of Margaret Thatcher. 

[*] Cats are to kittens as calves are to cows. "But that's ridiculous, Andrew: have you ever tried milking a cat?" 

[**] What is the British equivalent of Motherhood and Apple Pie? "The Church of England and Steak and Kidney Pie, perhaps?


Iain said...

I posted a comment on the DM's ridiculous "Insult to Christians" article, saying Why is it an insult to Christians as Xtianity (and practically all other philosophies) exhibit the Golden Rule (Do to others as you would have them do to you). I was surpised to find that I got 66 more "Green Arrow" thingies than red arrow ones on the comment. I had expected to be thoroughly red-arrowed by the kind of bigot that reads the DM!

Brian Coffee Spot said...

Did you use the words "English" and "British" interchangeably in the article, or were you subtly foreshadowing the snub that will be done to Gordon Brown on his death because he was a Scottish, not English, prime minister?

As one vox-pop interviewee put it recently:

"The great thing about Mrs T was that she put England first."

Or as the Welsh, Scots and Irish might say:

"The bad thing about Mrs T was that she put England first."


Brian Coffee Spot said...

I should also say that it was an excellent article and nicely sums up my thoughts about the whole situation (in case anyone thought I was just being picky).


Andrew Rilstone said...

Brian: If I claimed that I was using metonomy (the rhetorical device whereby a part of a thing stands for the whole, as in "Nelson set out with a hundred sails" or "he performed in front of many crowned heads") would you believe me?

Andrew Rilstone said...

Churchill and Thatcher were unquestionable English, but they were definitely British Prime Ministers. Ideally, I would have written "Prime Ministers of Britain".

When it was pointed out to the Duke of Wellington that he was actually Irish rather than English, he is alleged to have replied "If I had been born in a stable, that wouldn't make me a bloody horse."

JWH said...

Will this division always be thought of in terms of the person (Margaret Thatcher was a divisive figure who did things 'for Britain', 'to the miners', 'against gays' etc.) or will it one day cease to be about her and be about 'Thatcherism', a certain type of political ideology that enjoyed success in the late C20 and early C21?


Mike Taylor said...

Sorry, to be dense, but what does T.B.W stand for? True Blue Witch?

Andrew Stevens said...

That Bloody Woman.

Andrew Rilstone said...

Mrs Thatcher herself was asked what it stood for, and she replied "That B Woman". She was of a generation that couldn't say "bloody", even in quotation marks.

William Henry Harrison said...

Wow, if everybody hated her so much, why did you re-elect her? Oh, yeah, fascist conspiracy, of course.

It's amusing the way you people make such a big deal about the little divisions of your island. When basically you cold fit the whole lot into Wyoming.

Mike Taylor said...

In one of his stand-up routines (90s Comedian?) Stewart Lee addressed the question of how the Tories kept getting elected when everyone hated them. He concluded it can only have been because of the superior number of votes that they received.

Neil said...

Are we watching different news? Mine has all the political leaders agreeing she was and is a divisive figure, and that there is no consensus about her politics. Exactly why, in this context, we're holding a practically-state funeral I'm vague, but no one seems to be suggesting there's only one view of her.

Anonymous said...

As to her (un)popularity vs her electability, I am reminded of John Peel on Captain Beefheart

"I couldn't understand why he wasn't more succesful - Everyone I knew had his record. Then I realised my mistake - I knew everyone who had his record...

Andrew Rilstone said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andrew Rilstone said...

It is certainly true that T.B.W was good at winning elections.

But keep in mind that the British parliamentary system works like the American electoral college system. Where American Presidents sometimes don't have a majority of the popular vote, English Prime Ministers almost never do.

But we are a simple folk, and we take it for granted that being ruled by the largest single minority is the natural way of doing things: David Cameron claimed that he couldn't understand how any other set up could possibly exist.

In 1983, when T.B.W was at her most popular (as a result of the Falklands incident), when the opposition was split (as a result of an perceived take-over by "Militant" and the defection of the moderates to the briefly successful Social Democratic Party) and when the Labour Party was being led by a brilliant but catastrophically un-telegenic Marxist, T.B.W managed to secure 43% of the popular vote, on a 73% voter turnout.

Put another way, 31% of the electorate voted for her, 42% of the electorate voted for someone other than her, and 27% of the electorate didn't vote for anybody.

An election winner under the system that we use, certainly. Universally popular. Nah. It's just not like America where absolutely everyone loves Obama.

As to the divisions between England, Scotland and Wales.

You have to understand that although the UK has a lot less land than the United States, that land has a lot more people in it. It might be true that you could fit the UK into Wyoming, but you could fit the entire population Wyoming, Vermont, North Dakota and South Dakota into Wales. If they didn't like the hymn-singing and steam-trains, they could move to London and be joined by the entire population of Vermont, Alaska, Delaware, Montana, Rhode Island and New Hampshire.

And of course, we've been manufacturing history for about 710 years longer than you have. There is basically no difference between the American South and the North or between a Texan and a New Yorker, because there hasn't been very long for the cultures to develop but there's years of cultural and religious differences that make Wales and Scotland basically foreign countries.

There are still Welsh people who don't speak English as their first language; and the Scottish dialect is so radically different from standard English that "Scots" is recognised as a language in its own right. (Weren't films like Trainspotting actually subtitled for the US market?)

I will say this for Mrs Thatcher, though, she did make the trains run on time.