As someone sang in George Square tonight, “I’ve been waiting for this day / for my whole life!”
Glasgow city centre was flooded with hundreds of impromptu partygoers, out to celebrate the fact that the day has finally come. SHE’S DEAD!
All day it’s been hard to come to terms with, to fully comprehend the fact that a day that thousands of us have sang about and dreamed of for years has finally come.
Living in Britain today is a dystopian nightmare, thanks to the assault on the people that was unleashed by Baroness Thatcher. Today is our day, the day when the people who suffered at her hands, and their children and families who had to watch it happen not fully understanding, get to know that we endured. That despite everything she threw at us, we’re still here, and she’s dead.
There’s little point here in delving in to the detail of the endless nightmare she imposed on us. Others will do that elsewhere, here’s quite a good example that spells out some reasons to hate her. The point to make here is different: over the next couple of weeks, partying is an essential political duty.
Over the next two weeks the government and the media are going to go into overdrive in an attempt to impose one story: a nation in mourning for our lost great leader. They will try and silence anyone who wants to oppose this story, and unless we force ourselves into their attention, they will re-write history.
Today really is a historic moment, an extraordinary, never-to-be-repeated time, in which the death of one person can sum up everything about what is wrong with our society and our lives. Thatcher is responsible more than anyone for the conditions we live in today, and how we remember her is about how we understand our lives right now.
As the Black Triangle Campaign excellently put it about the calls for “silence” and “decorum”:
“The key point is this: those who admire the deceased public figure (and their politics) aren’t silent at all. They are aggressively exploiting the emotions generated by the person’s death to create hagiography.”
So the next couple of weeks must become a time of carnival, a time where we turn the world upside down. A time when because the rulers say we should be crying we laugh. Partying in the time of Thatcher’s mourning is an act of speaking truth to power. It’s saying we don’t accept her or what she did to us, and that her death is a sign that the world is going to change from the one she brought about.
Glasgow has thrown down to the gauntlet to the rest of these islands – tonight, we took the first step.
From as soon as the news broke in the middle of the day, many of us were deluged with invitations to be at George Square at 5. Despite some initial worries, hosts of the Facebook events have yet to be sent to Guantanamo, but the council did release a hilarious wet blanket of a statement “urging people to stay away” because there wouldn’t be enough portaloos.
When we arrived it was small, but quickly swelled to a crowd of 300 – 400 people. Revellers were met with free milk, and jelly and ice cream, just like the song promised. There was a piper, highland dancing and a conga. The crowd sang ‘Celebrate, good times come on!’ That guy with the Bedroom Tax song hit out with it. A lot of people that often have good reason to be sad tonight were smiling.
Just as heartening as seeing many old friends and folk who’ve come out the woodwork for the historic day, was seeing the huge proportion of people of our generation – 30s and under. We were the ones that had to see our parents suffer and not properly understand why, who went on protest marches on the shoulders of adults or pushed along in buggies, the ones whose entire lives have taken place in the world she made.
An honourable mention should go to the comedic efforts of the Glasgow Socialist Worker’s Party (you know, that cult that covered up that its leader is a rapist) to hijack the protest for their own ends. For those that don’t know, this political group always like to dominate and control campaigns and protests for their own ends. This is particularly bad at the moment because they’re trying to distract people desperately from some bad publicity they’ve had lately.
Arriving first in the square to lay down their banners like stereotypical German tourists, they had to be told by several why it wasn’t appropriate to have a giant (obviously rapidly, and rather shitly spray painted) ‘Glasgow SWP’ banner across the front of the protest. When people first started massing they had a megaphone that they were getting people to give speeches through. They then thought that this gave them the right to decide on speakers, control the whole protest and boss everyone around, despite not having called it or being in any way in charge. They shamefully used this as a political bargaining chip to try and exclude people they didn’t like, or demand concessions out of other activists in return for speaking. A wounded animal in decline, the SWP is becoming even more controlling and paranoid than it already was.
However, what was wonderful to see was people turn away from their boring speeches en masse, and move across the square to dance instead. At the end of the day, the socialist ranting of them and their allies is not what people wanted today. They wanted to hear the piper and sing. Many of those they had tried to exclude were relieved to not have to be yet another boring speaker.
It’s not that it wasn’t a political moment. It’s just that everyone who was in the square tonight hated Thatcher. Everyone knew the reasons why. We really, really didn’t need 20 different varieties of socialists in small organisations to tell us what to think. The people trying to direct everyone else by megaphone looked increasingly silly as everyone ignored them and had a party. It’s a bit like someone turned up when you were drinking at your house and started shouting that everyone had to pay attention to them. We politely walked away.
The socialist parties themselves are still stuck in the era of Thatcher, and are determined to suck us all in a timewarp back to the 1980s. Just like we hope that the death of Thatcher heralds the end of the 80s era of neoliberalism we still live through, we hope it also means the end to old fashioned ways of fighting back represented by corrupt, abusive organisations like the SWP.
So, hijacking averted, a wonderful time was had by all. But, this must only be the beginning. This Saturday, thousands of peace activists and trade unionists are due to be marching in the morning through the city to scrap Trident. Let’s capitalise on that, and in the afternoon, let’s turn our city into a carnival of freedom and truth, where we celebrate our history and survival.
To facilitate this happening, here’s a suggestion: all those that want to make it happen get together one night this week to plan dances, music, gigantic carnival puppets, banners, songs, chants, effigies, exorcisms, and marches on London to finish the job with stakes to the heart of the rest of the Tories.* And no rape apologists speechifying at us. Comment if this is something you’d be into, and between us we can set something up.
Of course, ultimately the main event will take place down south. There MUST be a counter protest to the elite rituals that will be enacted at her funeral. #nostatefuneral was apparently the 2nd trending topic on Twitter today, so people are already getting it. Don’t believe the fact that she’s getting a “ceremonial” funeral rather than a “state” one makes it any less of a disgrace.
There will still be a closed road to St Paul’s Cathedral lined with soldiers, live on the telly. We will still be collectively expected to spend millions of pounds on this farce (apparently they’re going to conceal the costs until afterwards, but the Queen Mother’s funeral cost £4 million+). We must not let that event pass without the people saying what they really think. Current estimates are that this will take place around 17 – 18th April. Watch the internet for any info that comes out, form up with others who might be into it to look out for each other, and if you possibly can be there. They will call us sick, but the lie the funeral will seek to spin is evil, and we will stand against it.
Bobby Sands famously said:
“Our revenge will be the laughter of our children.”
Thatcher is dead, the children of the 80s and 90s are pissing ourselves.
*Please note, we may not manage to achieve all these things, but best to aim high.