Thatcher’s funeral cost = £10 million. Latest ‘unavoidable’ cuts to Arts Council England = £11.6 million.
— Damien Walter (@damiengwalter) April 15, 2013
Big Ben is silenced.
BONG BONG BONG BONG BONG BONG BONG BONG BONG BONG BONG BONG
— Big Ben (@big_ben_clock) April 16, 2013
There’s a strong possibility that the Metropolitan police will pre-arrest people whom they allege are going to take part in protests at the funeral: there has been an explicit threat that anyone who does protest along the funeral route will be arrested.
This is a huge, awful travesty: a massive waste of public money in a Bullingdon ritual trashing, done ostensibly to honour a prime minister who hated her own country, who – though no Bullingdon boy – trashed us, smashed our windows, was expelled from power by the men of her party, and spent twenty years in wealthy loneliness.
No party leader will stand up and speak out against this. In fact, most of them are going to take part: David Cameron and Nick Clegg, obviously, but also Ed Miliband and Alex Salmond. Tony Blair, doubtless hoping this presages the same travesty for himself, Gordon Brown and John Major: of course such international names as Dick Cheney, Newt Gingrich, Henry Kissinger, FW de Klerk. Jimmy Savile would doubtless have been an honoured guest at St Pauls as he was at Chequers, had he not predeceased her.
And the saddest most frustrating thing of all: there seems nothing that we can do. It does not matter to David Cameron that most of the country think this is a waste of money, that Thatcher does not merit a state funeral. He doesn’t care what we think: he can do what he likes. Though this is a £10M party political broadcast for the Conservatives, still Labour, Liberal Democrats, Scottish National Party, have all – their leadership at least – agreed to be co-opted: decided not to stand up and speak out for us.
Various protests are doubtless being privately planned to avoid police pre-arrests, and several have been publicly suggested (a flash mob shouting “DING DONG” on the hour when Big Ben should strike and is silenced: a party outside St Paul’s: static protests along the funeral route) but none of them seem as constructive as this, written by Kari Sperring (and is posted here with her permission):
This is long, but please read this. And, if you like it, please pass it on.
I have said this before: I have said this for years, if Baroness Thatcher is given a state funeral, I will leave the country for the day, because what her policies did, what her belief did, what her legacy did, is doing to this day are things that are anathema to me.
But we must not speak ill of the dead. (Not unless they are poor or powerless or long gone or far away. Not unless they are of no use to our masters, the oligarchs of wealth whose trans-national networks run our world.) And I did not, in her declining years, wish Baroness Thatcher harm — dementia is harsh enough. I wished her only obscurity. It was her legacy I wanted — I still want — to see dead.
And that legacy lives on, on blunderbuss, cudgel limbs, on heavy crushing feet marching one and on over the poor, the disabled, the disenfranchised, the outsiders, the misfits, those with mental health issues, the disadvantaged, the underprivileged, those without important friends or influence, women, QUILTBAG people, people without UK citizenship, the powerless. The hunger of holy free market capitalism for new flesh is limitless, and it has no feelings. It has no empathy. It has only the drive to acquire, to grow, to possess — and the devil take all but the winners.
Alive or dead, Baroness Thatcher doesn’t matter any more, because this great devouring ideology outlives her, infests the policies and actions of our masters on all sides of the political spectrum. It gave birth to the over-heated banking bubble and its consequences. It trailed our double dip recession on its wings. It lies heady on every word uttered by Cameron and Osborn and Gove and Duncan Smith, just as it pervaded those of Blair and Blunkett. It handed over utilities and hospitals, newspapers and infrastructure to the moneyed few and left them free to treat those things as simply sources of profit. It left them free to plunder, to cheat, to evade taxes and responsibilities — and to publish as truths self-serving (power-serving) lies about benefit claimants and immigrants, trans-people and asylum seekers, lone-parent families and people with serious mental health issues.
It tells us that there is no money for schools, to help the poor and those who are socially, physically or psychologically disadvantaged, though there is money to help banks. There is no money for compassion, for help, for support, but there is money for tax cuts for the rich. There is no money for low earners or the unemployed — and these groups must be pursued and measured and harassed to ensure they get even less, whatever the cost — but the cost of pursuing those individuals and companies who evade and avoid tax is far too high.
And there is £10 million available to pay for a ceremonial funeral for a multi-millionaire.
And we must not complain or protest, because we must not speak ill of the dead. We must accept censorship, because we must not upset or offend.
Though it’s fine to upset and offend the relatives of the dead poor, the dead weak, the dead powerless. It’s fine to upset and offend those who still live in the communities that Thatcher’s policies, Thatcher’s legacy have destroyed. It’s fine to upset and offend those who have suffered through care in the community, lost relatives to superbugs created by the outsourcing of hospital cleaning, lost people to poverty, seen sisters, daughters, mothers abused and killed because the refuges were closed. It’s fine to insult and offend victims of domestic abuse, asylum seekers, the homeless, the unemployed, those driven to illness through year-on-year ‘efficiency gains’ and institutional bullying in the public sector, those burdened with debt due to student loans and fees, to wages that are below the living minimum.
Those people don’t matter. They aren’t influential. They need to remember their place — which is in silent acceptance, without protest.
I am not downloading songs. I am not dancing in the streets. There is nothing to celebrate in this death. But I am protesting, loud and clear. But not about the memory of Baroness Thatcher. I’m protesting about the insult this ceremonial funeral represents to all those her legacy has harmed and still harms.
This is how.
I don’t have £10 million. I don’t have anything approaching it. But I can find some spare money, and, on Wednesday, when Cameron is trying to ensure he stays in power by pandering to the right, I’m going to make a donation to a charity that works to help those groups that Thatcherite economics and Thatcherite lack of compassion is harming, day on day. And I’d like you to join me. You get to choose your charity — there are many to choose from — Shelter, MIND, Help The Aged, women’s refuges, charities that work with underprivileged children, MENCAP, charities that help those with physical challenges, charities working with asylum seekers, any group anywhere that is fighting to undo or at least mitigate the effects of Thatcherite ‘I’m All Right Jack, Greed is Good, cut help for the weak and give more to the strong’ policies. I’m going to be donating to MIND, because Care in the Community was wrapped up as inclusive but turned out to mean little more than abandonment and abuse, because mental health services have faced 30 years+ of cuts and these cuts kill.
Please join me.
I’d add: Please tell the charity that this is why you’re donating today, and – if you use social media – please tweet or facebook or Googleplus that you did.