Are you ready?
There you go. That was easy wasn’t it? I’ve been news dark for five days, since Thatcher died because I knew the country collectively, and the media specifically, would drop 50 spontaneous IQ points. It’s not being a perfect blackout, I was subjected to enough of Nick Clegg’s dribblingly incoherent tribute to know he still has as little clue of what his party is for as he did three years ago and heard enough second hand reports of Glenda Jackson’s one woman honesty attack to be impressed. But aside from that, I’ve kept quiet, kept out of it, for two simple reasons; firstly because death is death, and to speak ill of it is disrespectful. Secondly because, despite Thatcher’s policies blighting my childhood (And they did, make no mistake. A lot of people were very happy with the Thatcher government. A remarkably small amount of those people were nurses, teachers or miners.) it was my childhood. I’m not there anymore, so to react with anything other than acknowledgment that death is bad and I’m glad Thatcher’s not in power anymore just seemed crass for me.
Which isn’t to say I don’t support the protest buying of ‘Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead’, because I do. Everyone I’ve read, over the last five days, has agreed on one single thing, a neutral buoyancy phrase that covers a multitude of metaphorical and literal sins; Thatcher was divisive. Ergo, people were and are divided about Thatcherite policies. Therefore they have different opinions. Therefore people who want to buy a song in protest at that period in British history should, and are, being allowed to.
But then, when that song charts at number 4 as I write this, and the BBC make it clear it won’t be played in the official chart countdown but rather a clip will run in a news bulletin, that’s where you get problems. Because that’s not even censorship, it’s cowardice. That’s the producers of a station which, at this stage, is openly pointed at tweens and commuters and basically nobody else, deciding that one side is right and the other side is wrong. That the 20,000 plus people who’ve bought the track have opinions which don’t deserve to be heard and respected through four minutes of ironic, gentle, typically British protest.
I joked earlier today that Thatcher’s last act of chaos would be the fact the Iron Man 3 premiere has been postponed. It isn’t, it’s this. In fact it’s almost impossible not to view this as the final victory, the tenants of Thatcherism so tightly woven into British society that it dictates policy even now. Whether or not it’s insensitive to the Thatcher family isn’t in question, I’m sure it is, but the moment this decision was made, the BBC continued down the increasingly terrifying editorial route it’s been lumbering along for several years now.This was Lord Hall’s first moment to shine as the new chairman, the first real test of his courage. It’s failed him, and by extension, everyone who bought that song. The BBC should report the news, not make it. If Lord Hall had an ounce of the fortitude and courage Thatcher is being lauded for possessing, he’d know that.