Sunday, 1 May 2011

Royal Wedding: winners and losers

Martin Deane, standing for Avenue Ward, gives a Green take on the Royal Wedding

Great to be in the park on Friday with so many others escaping the Royal Wedding day pomp.

Now you royalists! Don't get me wrong! I wish them as much happiness as any other couple getting married - whom I don't know.

But there's lots about the RW, and many people's reaction to it, which is troubling - precisely because of what it stands for.

If you're a fully paid up Tory, this is so not going to make any sense to you! But from a global perspective (which is the Green Party one) Britain continues to have a lot to answer for, and the royals, as a symbol of what the whole country stands for, are part of a problem not part of a solution.

The royals stand for massive, inherited, wealth, privilege and power, built up and reinforced over centuries with the might of great navies and armies and the slaughter of millions of "the enemy", and no small amount of our own, in one way or another.

Great spectacles like Coronations or Funerals or Royal Weddings, help foster national pride and a sense of unity, for "we subjects", under Her Majesty and Her Government so they do no harm - to the elite.

Events play on people's emotions who suddenly and inexplicably feel caught up in the excitement, or tragedy, of what befalls people whom they don't know except through telly and the papers. For many it's much more emotional than it is rational!

The use of the massive spectacle for political purposes is ancient, made famous in the Roman tradition of "bread and circuses" as the main policy to keep people happy while Empire continued to expand and kill those who got in the way of the divine right to rule the Known World.

It's no great surprise that countries, like Britain, who elite still crave a modern empire, put on such shows. They may be called a Royal Wedding, or funeral, or an American Election, or the 2012 Olympics...

They serve as a huge distraction while government simply disempowers people while they watch telly. At the same time Kate was going up the aisle, government announced swingeing cuts to the NHS (Plan to starve NHS of funds) of up to 37% over 5 years. Tens of thousands of jobs will be lost (as some of us have been saying for months).

The NHS is the people's single greatest gain after World War II. Now after many assaults, including Labour ones, the Con-Dems set to with the knife and we wonder how long before the NHS, as we knew it, folds and just becomes some pale version of an American system where health costs huge amounts of money to individuals - and no money means next to no healthcare.

Countries less set on empire, like Holland and Sweden, don't quite have these events despite having royal families too. Do their royals mean less to their citizens? Or are they not looked up to as superheroes because their societies are more equal? Right now Britain is suffering from record inequality since the Second World War. Perhaps the social setups of other countries have something to teach Britain.

Certainly we should care about people, even random people, who may have lost someone or who may be going to get wed. But how many weddings are their in the UK a day? (730 on average!) And how many of those do we care about? Emotion is a core part of empathy and compassion. But emotion is also a human effort and we can only do so much.

We need to be more careful about what we care about.

Maybe next time we get caught up in colours and flags and pretty, pretty things, we may take a few moments to look at how much we could be losing from society - even as the magic words go on.

And learn to be more focused - and active - about those things within society which are worth the effort and which are more than just a spectacle.

Vote Green on May 5th.
Vote YES to AV.