Monday, August 4, 2014

The farcical Tory Great War centenary celebrations


From the beginning the Tory plan to celebrate the centenary of the United Kingdom joining the First World War looked like a distasteful effort to rinse some nationalist capital out of a hideous conflict. There are many, myself included, who have grave reservations about this Tory effort to rebrand the Great War as some kind of heroic patriotic adventure to be celebrated, rather than a barbaric exercise in mechanised slaughter and hellish living conditions to serve as a warning to subsequent generations of the horrors of war.

The most widely reported example of this Tory attempt to rewrite history was Michael Gove´s bizarre rant about the BBC comedy series Blackadder Goes Fourth. Laughably, Gove came across as a man completely unaware that the "lions led by donkeys" narrative he was decrying as some kind of leftist plot to undermine Britain was actually devised by the historian turned Tory party bigwig Alan Clarke in his 1961 book "The Donkeys"!

Another illustration of this weird Tory effort to glorify and reinvent the First World War as some kind of heroic adventure can be seen in the vacuous tribute David Cameron was allowed to write on the wreath he laid at the Cenotaph.

"The most enduring legacy is our liberty" is an extremely poorly worded tribute because it clearly applies far more effectively to the Second World War than it does the First. Of course it is a matter of opinion what "the most enduring legacy" from such a horrific conflict might be, however, I´m pretty sure that most would agree that the practice of remembrance is a much more tangible and enduring legacy than the general concept of "liberty", especially given that Cameron and his rotten government have striven relentlessly to undermine "liberty" with grotesque totalitarian and anti-democratic legislation such as the "secret courts" bill, retroactive workfare sanctions, the "Gagging Law" and the "DRIP spooks charter".

One of the most disgusting aspects of all was the farcical efforts by the Tory party and the right-wing press to smear Ed Miliband as unpatriotic for having laid a pre-written wreath, whilst praising Cameron for having personally written his own weirdly inappropriate tribute.

The Tory press were so quick to whip themselves up into a frenzy of condemnation over Miliband´s supposed lack of respect, that they completely failed to spot that the wreaths laid by Nick Clegg, and the political leaders of Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland were all written in identical handwriting to the one laid by Ed Miliband.

After the cursory investigation that the baying right-wing mob failed to do for themselves in their haste to launch their tirades of faux outrage, it turned out that David Cameron was the only politician who was even allowed to personalise his message, the others were just handed their pre-written wreaths and denied the opportunity to write their own tributes by the organisers of the event, who were the Department of Culture Media and Sport, which is headed by the Tory MP Sajid Javid.

For a Tory run department to decide that the only political figure who should be allowed to personalise their tribute must be the Tory Prime Minister, whilst all of his political rivals just had to lay a wreath bearing a pre-written laminated description of their job was a brazen display of political tribalism, but for the Tories and the right-wing press to then lambast Miliband for falling into the trap the 
Department of Culture Media and Sport had set for him was just farcical.

After the truth came out, that Ed Miliband and all of Cameron´s political rivals had been denied the opportunity to personalise their messages, some of the right-wing backtracking was absolutely comical. Right-wingers tried to claim that Miliband should have quickly attempted to write/scratch his own personal message on top of the laminated card, or even that he should have foreseen the whole episode and brought his own wreath! Had Miliband actually done either of these things it´s not difficult to imagine the tide of Tory outrage. He´d have been accused of deliberately defacing the tribute had he tried to write over the laminated card, orhe´d have been accused of deliberately ruining the occasion with an absurd display of oneupmanship by bringing a better wreath just to show up his political rivals.

Thanks to the blatant political bias of the Department of Culture Media and Sport and the rabid reaction of the right-wing press, a day of solemn remembrance has been reduced to farcical bickering and sub-juvenile political points scoring about what had been written on laminated bits of paper.

100 years to the day after the United Kingdom entered what was to become a gruesome bloodbath of a war (or a wonderful patriotic boys-own adventure - as the Tory revisionists would have us believe) this historical moment was commemorated with an ugly display of manufactured Tory outrage.

All we are left with after this farce is the hope that whoever is in power for the proper Great War centenary in November 2018 is capable of arranging a much more solemn and serious occasion.



                
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