Ding, dong, the witch is dead

On the radio yesterday I heard the compère read out a tweet that described as ‘obscene’ the act of spending £10k£10m from the public purse on a funeral for the Iron Lady. (I agree with that stance myself; but then since the only possible opposite of ‘left’ is ‘right’, my own political view is clearly wrong.) In almost the very next breath she asked a caller whether he agreed that having a party in Trafalgar Square to celebrate the death of Baroness Thatcher was ‘distasteful’. The irony of her position flew right over her head, cawing noisily. Since public money will be spent on the party, too (someone has to pay the police to ‘keep the peace’), the UK taxpayer pays twice; once for each side of the fence.

It’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that an employee of the British Broadcasting Corporation is going to have a pro-establishment mindset, but I find it disconcerting to think that a casual listener to broadcasts such as this will be subjected to a subtle reinforcement of a view of normality that does nobody any favours in the long run. To quote the words of another dead member of the species homo fatuus brutus (Douglas Adams, RIP):

“We are now cruising at a level of two to the power of twenty-five thousand to one against and falling, and we will be restoring normality just as soon as we are sure what is normal anyway.”

The ‘ding dong’ video clip above shows reality from the point of view of those whose lives have been badly hit by past events. While the manner in which the UK coal industry was demolished in the 1970s is truly appalling, the good news is: the UK coal industry was demolished — since, from the perspective of the global biosphere, the only good coal mine is a closed coal mine. What’s shocking is the callous disregard by those in power at the time for the impact of their actions upon those families whose lives were also destroyed in the process.

Perhaps the real agenda was more about castrating the labour unions, with the economic argument merely a convenient cover. Given that poor EROEI (energy return on energy invested) was, for a long time, used as an argument against extracting fossil fuel from places such as the Athabasca Tar Sands, I wonder how long it will be before reopening the UK’s coal mines becomes “inevitable”…

… Another thing I wonder about is the extent to which our ‘duly elected leaders’ are pawns in the hands of society’s inherent, flawed, needs. Was Margaret manipulated by those with perverse views of the terms ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, blissfully unaware of the puppet strings?

If we want (need) to change what people do (say, for example, stop clearcutting forests or annihilating fish stocks) we need to ensure that those whose livelihoods depend upon these activities are helped to transition away from them. If we do not, then we end up with ‘terrists’ fighting for the cause. Will we ever learn that lesson?

If the popular view is that it’s normal to celebrate Thatcherism, I fear we have more of the same to look forward to in the years ahead as climate change forces our civilisation (sick) (sic) to change.

“The negotiators, the diplomats, the civil servants, the journalists are all drastically out of touch with the basic arithmetic of carbon emissions, carbon concentrations, what is safe and what’s beyond safe.”

About peNdantry

Phlyarologist (part-time) and pendant. Campaigner for action against anthropogenic global warming (AGW) and injustice in all its forms. Humanist, atheist, notoftenpist. Wannabe poet, writer and astronaut.
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20 Responses to Ding, dong, the witch is dead

  1. penpusherpen says:

    God, I wish Thatcherism had declined…, but the Woman (capital letter ‘cos she was almost neither gender to me) having died hasn’t killed off her policies a jot … for come the policy, come the party, come the backroom money men, the shadowy puppeteers who pull the strings… She was, to me , a total megalomaniac, high on power , and uncaring of how hard she hit the nut, so long as it cracked… I just wish the family had decided to hold a private funeral… ‘twould have gone down much better with those who are still feeling the backlash of her time in office… £10 million? and they say there’s plenty of money to cover the bill, Pffft, a different tale than the one they were spouting to start this round of cuts… xPenx


  2. The cynic in me can’t stop that old saw coming to mind: “Lies, damnable lies, and politics!”


  3. mikestasse says:

    Your readers may like to read what I wrote on this subject….

    For a fresh approach?


  4. Wyrd Smythe says:

    There is a lovely, sweet movie, Brassed Off (with the marvelous Pete Postlethwaite), that uses as its background the closing of coal mines. It’s a conundrum: coal mines need to be closed, but how to handle the consequences? Entire towns existed to support the mine. The question is, how do you deal with massive change? It’s simply not likely to be harmless.

    In developed countries we’ve been faced with a milder, but more widespread, issue as technology removes jobs in great numbers. Given the burgeoning pace of about 200,000 new souls every day, does the world end up in largely a welfare state with technology and a small group of planners and operators providing for the planet? Several science fiction authors have postulated just that.


    • pendantry says:

      I’ve heard of Brassed Off, but have never seen it. I didn’t know that Pete Postlethwaite starred in it — now that I know that the star of The Age of Stupid is in it, I’m much more interested!

      The answer to the conundrum you pose is in the word ‘technology’. We were promised that machines would make our lives easier: though I don’t deny that they have, the benefit distribution has been totally inequitable. The solution seems stupidly obvious, to me: share more.


      • Wyrd Smythe says:

        But share what? And how? Let’s just take the case of the coal miners. What was a better — and viable — solution? What would you have done had you been Thatcher? (I don’t have a clue, myself. It seems that moving into a technological world has some severe growing pains.)

        I liked Brassed Off so much I wrote a bit about it, if you’re interested:


        • pendantry says:

          Sorry for the delay in approving this post; I wanted to make sure I could reply.
          You say:

          But share what? And how?

          And I have to admit to being a tad bewildered and can only conclude that perhaps you didn’t follow the link I offered to ‘Even the pessimists got it wrong‘, even though you’ve been there before.

          So, I’ll rephrase:

          Technology and machines have resulted in massive benefits for a very small — make that tiny — proportion of the population of the human race. 1% of the people in the US control 40% of that nation’s entire wealth — and 80% share just 7% of the wealth between them.

          Does that make it any clearer what I think it is that should be shared?



          • Wyrd Smythe says:

            (I did follow your link, but yesterday it seemed to point back to this article. Weird!)

            I would question the association between technology and the disparity of wealth. That equation could have gone the other way (one can argue should have), so I think the root cause is something other than technology (to wit: I think it’s sheer greed, my other least favorite human trait). As an example, consider the disparity between the ancient pharaohs and the masses of slaves. Greed and power are not new.

            And has not technology also been a huge benefit to billions? Medicine, refrigerators, cell phones and the internet are a benefit to many. It’s entirely possible that technology will ultimately result in the downfall of most dictatorships. Many feel it was instrumental in the growing “Arab Spring.”

            But that aside (correct me if I’m wrong), you seem to be answering my original question with, “Yes, a welfare state.” Do you feel that the wealthy should support the masses who’ve lost their function in society?

            Specifically, with regard to the coal miners, would you put them on the dole? Would you try to re-educate them to other jobs? What other jobs? What would you have done had you been Thatcher?


          • pendantry says:

            We’re talking across each other here.

            If the wealth is shared such that each person has a more equitable chunk of what humans have generated to this point in time, there is quite simply no need for a ‘welfare state’. You appear not to be able to see this point, which, as always, could be due to my inept communication skill; but an alternative view might be a case of ideological blinkering: I’m beginning to suspect that you think that the current inequitable distribution of wealth is simply ‘the natural order of things‘.

            What I would like to think I would have done had I been in Pri’Minister Thatcher’s shoes would have been to have shown some empathy. ‘The miners’ was a culture that developed over generations; the wisdom passed down from father to son was that mining was a secure way of earning a living for the family*. For their ‘betters’ (who are, after all, ‘in control’, or so they like to pretend — this is why they ‘deserve’ their extra munnies, is it not?) to suddenly turn around and junk the life expectations of a large group of people without making even a token effort to rehabilitate those in that unfortunate situation is beyond the pale. As, I think, the video at the head of this post clearly indicates.

            Ask yourself this: would you choose, voluntarily, to work in the dark, underground, away from the light for years in grimy, unhealthy conditions — unless you had been brought up to expect that this was ‘perfectly normal‘?

            * We’ve got much the same situation now in the Athabasca tar sands. People whose livelihoods are at stake are fighting to continue destroying wilderness, dig up shit from the ground that produces ever-decreasing EROEI in a vicious cycle that could potentially mean the end of life on Earth for millions of years, if not for ever. And why? To feed their families. It’s beyond insane.

            The only answer in such a situation, if you don’t want massive civil unrest, is to set aside resources to reallocate displaced folk. And those resources do exist; but they’re being clutched greedily to the chests of a tiny minority who already have far more than enough.


          • Wyrd Smythe says:

            Sharing the wealth is a welfare state.

            This seems to have turned to an attack on my character, so that’s it, I’m done here.


          • pendantry says:

            [It’s taken me this long to discover an appropriate riposte]

            Sharing the wealth is a welfare state.

            I believe that you are mistaken.


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