Isn't it interesting that the only safe way for people to protest in today's "post Thatcher" world is to buy a song?
A couple of years back, the UK's consumers were being railroaded by advertising and mass media to buy a song approved by Simon Cowell, MSM and the popular tabloids. A campaign of consumers fighting back against a consumerist culture managed to push the anti-totalitarianist and socialist rock band, Rage Against the Machine to the coveted Christmas number one slot with their festive treat, "Killing in the Name of..." It achieved nothing more than a symbollic poke in the eye against the PR men.
This week, as well as remembering, and here in Glasgow, walking amongst and living with, the social consequenses of the destruction carried out by Thatcherite monetarism, people here have been remembering the police state created by her government back in the 1980's. Friends have told me of when they were stopped from protesting with miners as police raided buses and held them at the side of the road until the protests were over. More recently in Blair's time, I remember how protest was channelled though barricaded and sniper guarded Edinburgh streets and psychologically policed by doyens of Blairite taste, Geldoff and Bono. Or when millions marched against Blair, Brown and their Thatcherite lite Government's want to drive us into the middle eastern war of attrition our young soldiers are still dying in; protestors were ignored.
Thatcher's funeral machine has learned from the past forty years of protest- and taken a lesson from the outpouring of popular media driven grief when Diana Princess of Wales died. The policing by the police and media of the tiny amount of protestors in Glasgow who danced on the day that Margaret Thatcher died, was way over the top. Google photos taken of George Square on the day from the City Chambers web cam and see for yourself. Protestors who go out into the physical world to voice an opinion on the Tory/New Labour/Liberal neo-liberalist narrative and hegemony, face kettling and beating and being charged cavalry style by horse mounted police. This was sanctioned by Thatcher during uprisings in Orgreave through to the poll-tax uprisings across the country. This has also been the tactic of the Cameron/Clegg condem conspiracy.
But the "taste police," have been the most insidious. Those people who are marking Thatcher's demise in a less than sombre style are being lambasted by such luminaries of decency as the man who abandoned his mistress and child, Cecil Parkinson and the pornographer owned Daily Mail, the paper that has been implicated in phone hacking and the paper that denanded Milly Dowler's parents paid back their compensation. Teachers have been lambasted by the Mail. Ex-Miners and other workers who have joined partying have been criticised by the public school educated commentators on BBC programmes from Marr to Question Time.
Wednesday's funeral has still to be- but I feel the protests will be small. The biggest protest, and indeed since Louise Mensch turned it into an almost Oasis/Blur like fight for Radio 1 airplay by her backing of another anti-Thatcher song, "I'm in Love with Margaret Thatcher," will be the consumerist contest in the music charts. Old fogeys like me remember how relevent "God Save the Queen " by The Sex Pistols was in 1977 or "Stand Down Margaret," by the Beat or "Margaret on the Guillotine," by Morrissey were. And with Elvis Costello's song "Tramp the Dirt Down" also in the charts, consumerist protest seems to be the order of the day. Part of Thatcher's legacy will be to make some of these protest singers a few more pounds.
Of course the buying of "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead" or any other song as way of protest is not a conscious decision to give money to a song-writer or music corporation. It is the symbolism of the chart position and the lyric that has boosted sales of the song from the Wizard of Oz. But to me what this act signifies is two fold. One, the victory of the right wing sponsors of monetarism by having so many people believe that what has happened to society in the past forty years is personified by one woman when it was a massive team of politicians, media moguls and corporations that stole our socially just future and secondly how protest has been reduced to sales.
On Wednesday I will be working. I will be protesting while I do so, not by downloading a song - but by wearing red. My symbolic act will be one that in my mind and in my isolated, alienated de-unionised and consumerised being, one of a want for the future. A red full stop to the personification of the ills of neo-liberalism in one middle class woman. Thatcher is dead- and the fight against Thatcherism goes on.