I had a brilliant idea. As the UK government saw fit to honour Margaret Thatcher with a minute’s silence on the occasion of her funeral, I would commemorate her legacy in a similar way on August Bank Holiday 2013 as a piece of performance art. This is the day proposed by the swivel-eyed loons of the UK Conservative Party to be renamed Margaret Thatcher Day, and my idea was to observe a minute’s silence for each of the 323 casualties caused by the sinking of the Argentinian cruiser General Belgrano on 2nd May 1982, during The Falklands War.
I told a few people about the idea and received a very mixed bag of responses, some very positive, some apathetic and some extremely negative. Any artist will tell you that negative responses are not necessarily a bad thing. It’s great to be loved, but it’s much better to be hated than ignored, but what dissuaded me in the end was the fog of war.
It’s a highly emotive event and was the cause of much controversy at the time. Much was made of the fact that the cruiser was sailing away from the islands, but I accept the argument that its direction was irrelevant. A warship can change direction at any time and its heading does not mean it was not a threat. However, what remains so controversial is that the rules of engagement of the British Navy were changed specifically in order to allow the submarine HMS Conqueror to attack the ship. Even so, the most fundamental flaw in my own reasoning is that reports now show that the Argentinian navy accept the sinking as a legal engagement, and this is where it all falls apart.
Although the current government of Argentina still likes to accuse the British of aggression and cowardice over the attack, it seems more like politics than ethics and is not something I would want to identify with. Also, by the time I had looked at more references and re-interpreted the mired spin of The Daily Mail and John Pilger amongst others, it did not seem like the iconic war crime that I had thought. This by no means lets Maggie off the hook as I still consider the war to be an unnecessary loss of 907 lives in total and she used it for political purpose.
However, what motivated me most was disgust. Disgust at the London-centric, whitewashed reporting of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) who failed to cover the strength of very negative feeling around the country.
Tony Benn puts it better than I ever could. I first saw this video posted on Facebook a couple of years ago and I thought it was recent because it seemed like he was talking about Cameron’s cabinet. I was puzzled at first because I thought I remembered Tony Benn retiring from parliament “to spend more time on politics” and was also surprised how well he’d worn. However, it’s just another example of history repeating itself and what he says is just as relevant now.
One thing both Tony Benn and Margaret Thatcher would agree about is that some battles need fighting more than once and it is important to remember what a misguided, divisive and ignorant person Margaret Thatcher was. People admire her for being a strong leader as if that in itself is any excuse, but there are many other strong leaders that those same people would not like to be identified with.
She damned herself with her own praise and the most telling act of her own misguided self-confidence was what she said on her first arrival at Downing Street as Prime Minister. We should have seen it coming. With hindsight it’s easy to understand the irony but here is that notorious moment.
Currently showing on BBC television is “Thatcher: The Downing Street Years” where she reinforces this self-beatification by condemning consensual politics as if she was the only politician in history to recognise this and hence justify her autocracy. Thatcher looked in the mirror and mistook herself for an inspired statesman rather than the opinionated philistine that she was.
The only brief moment I saw of the BBC’s multi-hour eulogy that constituted their coverage of her funeral, was her post-PM driver describing her as “entirely humourless”. Channel 4 News did little better, indulging themselves with a bit of poverty tourism involving provoking a predictable response by interviewing a Conservative politician in a working men’s club in Consett of all places.
Whilst I still think the sinking of the General Belgrano was a deplorable and unnecessary act, it was just one of many in the jingoist warmongering that was the Falklands War. But as far as my proposed performance is concerned, I began to question the credibility of my own reasoning and I started to ask myself do I really want to associate myself with this singular and confused act in a much wider sea of prejudice, hypocrisy and misanthropy?
And the answer is not really, so here is a picture of a space monkey. LOL
Full story here.