So it’s been 60 years since the Queen’s Dad died. What better way for her to remember him than a 4 day stramash of different events that may or may not be fun for an octogenarian.
But what I am finding even stranger (if that’s possible), and in fact slightly offensive, is all the chat about ‘life 60 years ago’ and ‘how Britain has changed’. This mostly seems to centre on some kind of idyllic review of the 1950s, or a eulogy to modernity, or to take the opportunity to criticise modern life, and to lament the lack of real progress.
The contrary nature of these commentaries rather suggests that a) it all depends on your perspective and b) some of the comments aren’t terribly well thought through.
Comparing Britain now to Britain in 1952 just because that’s when George VI died is disingenuous at best and harmful at worst. The country was still in recovery from WWII for a start. I’m not a historian so I’m not going to go into detail but we all know that the 50s images of the ‘little woman’ having dinner on the table for her husband as soon as he gets home from work. Obviously things have changed.
But some things haven’t. Inequality is still rife in the UK. And a hereditary head of state probably isn’t helping with ‘social mobility’. (I put this in quotation marks as I find it an odd statement, surely it’s about equality, not mobility?)
Perhaps rather than wittering about divorce and anti-depressants (thanks Bishop of London for your terribly insightful comments – not), commentators should be questioning why, in 60 years, we have failed to close the equality gap.
And don’t tell me that Britain is ‘wealthier than it’s ever been’, when child poverty keeps rising, when we value commodities over human rights and environmental goods, and frankly, when we measure ‘wealth’ using only the amount of money we have.
Perhaps, as mentioned, we should query whether the way we structure our society, with a monarch, a Parliament full of white privileged men, and a Cabinet with more millionaires than women (yes I will keep using that stat, it is appalling), is part of the problem. Perhaps we should question why we let private banks keep creating money out of thin air and then wonder why it can’t be paid back (clue: it didn’t exist in the first place). Perhaps we should think about valuing something other than privilege and cash. Perhaps this ‘Jubilee’ is an opportunity to completely re-think Britain. To turn it around. This could be as radical as allowing homeless families to live in Buckingham Palace, or Holyrood, or Balmoral, or Sandringham. Or it could be as simple as a debt jubilee. Or it could be as straight forward as actually working to make our country more equal, rather than spending 4 days celebrating our inequality.