I will be in bed on the day of Maggie Thatcher’s funeral (I will be on Nights), but when I am awake I will be joining the ‘Wear Red’ protest, I am not sure if I would have gone to London to protest at her funeral – I read an article of a Mum who had applied to the Police to protest by turning her back on the procession, she had to because she couldn’t afford to be late for work and had to work to support her kids – but I will not let the funeral of Maggie go without protest. On Facebook we are protesting by changing our profile picture to that of Clement Attlee. I particularly like this protest as it contrasts the ground breaking Attlee administration that created the National Health Service, the Welfare State and Workers Rights, and is pertinent to what this Government is destroying, and what Thatcher sought to destroy.
I am sure this will not be my final piece on Thatcher, but it is for her funeral.
The funeral contrasts sharply with Winston Churchill’s funeral of 1965 when the nation was truly grief-stricken and said goodbye to a national leader, and head of the National Government during the war – don’t get me wrong he was far from perfect, but he died with the respect of a grateful nation, I feel confident that no-one even thought of protesting his funeral. I am afraid Maggie’s funeral will be a lot more tense, for the wrong reasons. Contrast this again with Clement Attlee, who reconstructed a war ravaged country, who’s administration built 1 million new home, employed 25,000 new teachers, and introduced Child Benefit, Sickness Pay, Invalidity and Maternity Benefits amongst a radical agenda to rival anything that Thatcher did. All this from a man who, when he was Prime Minister, went on holiday in Caravan in Devon.
In retirement he co-founded the Homosexual Law Reform Society, and remember that was well before the Wolfenden Report. I am actually inspired that this man was a social and political reformer of gargantuan proportions, flawed yes, but a leader, a reformer and by all accounts humble, not for him the ‘pomp and circumstance’ of a State funeral.
Attlee’s funeral, as befitting a humble man with a vision, consisted of 150 mourners in the Church of the Templars in London. The times records the event as such:
ALL the trappings of power were absent last week at the funeral of Earl Attlee, Britain’s Prime Minister from 1945 to 1951: no honour guards or artillery caissons, no press or television, no crush of spectator
A Prime Minister who served in Government during the war and totally revolutionised British society in six years, taking it from a scene that Hogarth would have been at home in, to a country that that could be proud of its achievements, there is no other honour that could be given this man, if he wanted one, than he was radical and improved the health and welfare beyond comprehension. What greater accolade is there than the appreciate of a grateful nation?
On the other hand the funeral Margaret Thatcher has a ‘State Funeral’ in all but name, and that funeral she continues to tear apart the nation in controversy over her legacy, over the cost and her politics. The funeral, and apparently she never wanted the fuss, is a monument to the ego of the radical right of the Conservative Party, the Party that de-selected her as Prime Minister. Her record will be her eulogy. Yes she did some good, but the evil schisms she manipulated are still tender today, and have been reopened for the salt of a £10 Million funeral to be poured into.
As an openly gay man growing up in the Pit Villages of South Yorkshire I cannot mourn for this woman. I cannot mourn for the devastation she wrought not for the rampant homophobia she encouraged. Matthew Todd in his piece ‘Margaret Thatcher was no poster girl for gay rights’ reminds us:
The 1987 election saw Tory ad campaigns trying to portray Labour as actively trying to pervert children. One billboard showed a line of young men wearing badges such as “Gay pride” and “Gay sports day” with a slogan, “This is Labour’s camp. Do you want to live in it?”.
After winning the 1987 election Thatcher knew she was on to a winner. She denounced local education authorities for teaching children that “they have an inalienable right to be gay” and brought in the hated clause, then section, 28, which outlawed the promotion of homosexuality as “a pretend family relationship”
The last comment drove someone to scrawl over a Tory Poster ‘Lesbian Mums aren’t pretending’
The recent vote on Equal Marriages shows that the Tory are still stubbornly anti-gay, even Cameron couldn’t vote for a Bill he introduced.
On 17 April 2013 I am wearing Red in memory of the woman who tried to tear up the social reforms that helped the weakest, I am wearing Red to honour the Miners, the Miners who were fighting for their lives, who were refused State help in funeral expenses, I am wearing Red for the Steelworkers who lost their jobs and are now sweeping floors, I am wearing Red for the members of the military that dies in the Falklands War that could have been avoided – I am wearing Red in solidarity with the lives ruined by Section 28.
More than anything else on 17 April 2013 I am wearing red. I am wearing red to honour the achievements of a great leader who was humble, led this country, and created social and political reforms that made me proud to be British