Saturday, 13 April 2013
Who authorised the Thatcher military funeral?
The British political processes are a stupendous thing. You should never under-estimate their ability to seize on some symbolic element of what might be something quite important, and worry it to death - and then, when they have solved it, think that somehow the whole issue has been resolved.
Something similar seems to be happening over the completely pointless row over the Ding, Dong song. It is pretty tasteless to celebrate a death, and perhaps the BBC is in a difficult position - I don't know. But really, on the storm in a teacup scale, this is about Force 8.
But there is an underlying issue which has barely had a look in.
Even if Margaret Thatcher was the giant figure that she is being painted, and I am not at all sure that is the way history will see it. Yes, there were major changes that took place during her time, but I am unsure whether they are really down to her. There are some important and terrifying side-effects as well, as I have argued here before.
Even if she was, I feel increasingly uncomfortable that the whole celebratory mechanisms of the state are being rolled out to mark her death - the Queen, the military, gun carriages. These things very occasionally happen with politicians: the Duke of Wellington (see picture) defeated Napoleon, Winston Churchill united Europe against the Nazis. Whatever else you might accuse Margaret Thatcher of - uniting people isn't one of them.
I believe in the monarchy. Call me old-fashioned, but I believe it is a vital buttress against fascism and extremism. When you organise the state institutions as if we were a presidential republic, it undermines those institutions that ought to stay above the fray. The sheer bathos of it is quite undermining enough; the monarchy and the military are compromised.
So here's the key question. Who authorised this embarrassing and inappropriate military funeral and when?
I think we should be told.