The Right To A Peaceful Protest

For those of you who have been living under a rock over the past week, I can tell you that Margaret Thatcher died on the 8th of April 2013. Her funeral will be held on the 17th (that’s my fellow Gavellers birthday, fact fans!) In accordance with her wishes she will not be having a state funeral; instead she will be having a ceremonial funeral.

Call it what you like, it’s still costing £10m.

"I think we have gone through a period when too many children and people have been given to understand 'I have a problem, it is the government's job to cope with it!' or 'I have a problem, I will go and get a grant to cope with it!'; 'I am homeless, the government must house me!' and so they are casting their problems on society and who is society?  "There is no such thing! There are individual men and women and there are families, and no government can do anything except through people and people look to themselves first.  "It is our duty to look after ourselves and then also to help look after our neighbour and life is a reciprocal business and people have got the entitlements too much in mind without the obligations"

“I think we have gone through a period when too many children and people have been given to understand ‘I have a problem, it is the government’s job to cope with it!’ or ‘I have a problem, I will go and get a grant to cope with it!’; ‘I am homeless, the government must house me!’ and so they are casting their problems on society and who is society?
“There is no such thing! There are individual men and women and there are families, and no government can do anything except through people and people look to themselves first.
“It is our duty to look after ourselves and then also to help look after our neighbour and life is a reciprocal business and people have got the entitlements too much in mind without the obligations”

And that is an issue for many people. Our current government like to tell us that we must make cuts to national, necessary budgets such as the NHS, social care and local government (incidenatally where Maggie got her first taste of poltics as her father was a local councillor) yet somehow the Tories have managed to find a spare £10m lying around to spend on a funeral. What were they doing, en masse sofa checking? Did they all save their coppers and take them down to the bank in those little plastic bags? Did they all sell some stuff on eBay?

No, this money is coming from us, the tax payers.

I have nothing against using public money to fund funerals in certain cases. If a body goes unclaimed or if the family just don’t have the money to spare for a funeral then a modest burial provided by the state seems more than fair. But that’s not the case for the Thatchers, now, is it? Mrs Thatchers house is worth £6m, although it is owned by a business with links to 3 offshore accounts, leading to speculation that it is part of a grand scheme to avoid inheritance tax. That aside, my point is that we really shouldn’t be spending this money.

This leads me onto my main point: the right to protest. I am, unsurprisingly, not alone in feeling that this is not ok. Several protests have sprung up online to do with this funeral. In one case, groups of people have united to choose to turn their backs on the funeral procession as it winds through London. This has already been granted approval by Met Police. I am 100% behind this movement for this reason: the right to a peaceful protest. This will be a very simple protest, but it will speak volumes and will in no way harm the people who are there to pay their respects. Perfect!

There are also petitions online to protest against public money being used for the funeral which I also back.

Another form of protest has come about in the form of using the Radio 1 weekly charts to try to play the song “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead” from the musical The Wizard of Oz. The BBC spoke last week about their decision to play a 5 second clip of the song, should it reach number 1 (traditionally played in full regardless of the song choice) along with a news item to explain the reason for the song and for its short play. I am not a huge fan of the BBC lately, but I have to admit that I agreed with their stance. Banning the song as some members of parliament shouted for would be a massive censorship and utterly wrong. Playing a clip with explanations of why the song was voted for and why Mrs Thatcher incited such division in the country made much more sense. As it happens the song reached number 2 in the charts.

Look, don’t get me wrong. Sometimes peaceful won’t cut it. Sometimes you have to be out on the streets making your voice heard and to fight back if you are silenced. Sometimes that is the neccessary way to overthrow facism and dictators and cruelty and oppression. Sometimes you have to fight. But this is not one of those times. Fighting in the street cannot change anything here: the woman is dead and her legacy is over. She was PM for three terms starting in 1979 and ending in 1990. We can’t change what she did in those times. Protesting about how much hate she invoked won’t do anything. But what we can argue against is the reckless spending of public money for a woman who’s estate and surviving family can easily afford to pay double that is something we can do and it’s something I personally think we should fight for.

So I say do not throw public money away on a funeral for Mrs Thatcher when we are being told that cuts must be made against the poorest and most vulnerable members of society, because that is simply not what that money is there for. Gavel!

Discuss…

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Alison
    Apr 17, 2013 @ 11:04:29

    Now, I still don’t know huge amounts about Maggie. I have done a little research and I get that she did a lot of stuff and some people did bad out of it (but would possibly have done bad even if it hadn’t happened) and some people did good out of it (who probably didn’t need the boost they got). I know she’s blamed for the death of ‘Society’ and ‘community’ and all that – Frank Turner taught me that much.

    But at the end of the day I don’t really begrudge her the massive fancy funeral. There are 29,700,000 taxpayers in this country. a £10m funeral averages out as a £0.34 contribution per person. I’m fine with that. Heck, I’ll give you 68p and cover you and T’s share. Yes it’s a lot of money, but there are a lot of taxpayers. Yes there are many other (better) things to spend it on, but regardless of where money is spent, there will always be causes deemed more worthy. Ultimately she was in charge of this country for a LONG time. People voted her in 3 times. I wasn’t there, but my logic-worshipping brain suggests she either did something right, or the alternatives were supremely awful. That much service to the country deserves 34p towards a funeral in my book. And yeah, I’d give 34p to Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Cameron’s funerals when the time came. It’s an awful job – being responsible for a country who will despise you for almost every decision you make.

    (General comment, not comment aimed at Charli!) Sure – disagree with her policies, but don’t underestimate what Maggie did unless you would be prepared to stand as head of one of the main parties, in which case I say why the heck aren’t you at least an MP, if not an actual party leader?!? It’s much easier to condemn than it is to get up and do.

    Reply

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