Wednesday 12 November 2014

Bloody disgrace

Few things in recent years have made me angrier than news that the Coalition government is cutting its funding (or 'annual operating grant in aid' as it's known) of the Imperial War Museum, now under threat and facing an annual deficit of £4m. The IWM has has been forced to draft proposals to:

•   close its unique library and dispose of the majority of its collection

•   cut important education services

•   cut 60-80 jobs

•   close the widely emulated ‘Explore History’ facility in London.

(£4 million is peanuts. By way of comparison, the cost of the London Olympics opening ceremony in 2012 was £27 million. The legacy - around two hours of telly which nobody has seen since. The overall cost of the Olympic boondoggle was £8.92 billion.)

Thea Lanarduzzi of the Times Literary Supplement blogs about this with calm fury here, and there's a link in her piece (and below) to an online petition that may shame the government into rethinking this disgusting and indefensible decision which, once implemented, will lead to the closure of an archive and library of international importance and the collapse of this vitally important institution. Be angry and do make your voice heard.

But, cynic that I am, I detect the whiff of political shenanigans. Who can doubt that at the last minute our sleek clot of a Prime Minister David Cameron, with UKIP snapping at his heels and an election looming, will spring into action to 'save the day' and be 'the hero of the hour'. Good old Dave, the people's friend. He'll tell us, with a moist wobble in his pink little throat, that he's 'passionate' about history 'in this year of all years'. That's the sort of man he is. 

Don't you simply loathe politicians? From the disturbing way they dress to the fatuous way they speak, their slapdash rhetoric, feeble cultural knowledge, low cunning and bluster and overweening sense of entitlement. Any idea of selfless public service went out with the Thatcher years and I cannot think of one - not one - current member of the House who I trust and admire. (Actually and come to think of it I can - Colonel 'Bob' Stewart, Conservative MP for Beckenham since 2010, a very decent and honourable chap I happened to know briefly in the 1980s when the company I worked for arranged his language tuition prior to his service in ex-Yugoslavia, where he became known as 'Bosnia Bob'. But I can't help feeling he's too good for party politics and the shifty, opportunist, point scoring and callow  little shits with whom he has to rub shoulders.)

I'm quite sure that even as I type this there's some spotty young Tory boy who, in a few years' time, just before his incarceration for embezzlement or sexual offences or expenses fiddling, will drive through a bill that will lead to the closure of all our overseas war cemeteries as 'no longer 'sustainable', 'not fit for purpose', 'a drain on our limited resources', 'not in keeping with modern mourning strategies' and 'inappropriate for today's forward-looking society'. This will certainly happen at around the same time the privatised Imperial War Museum is rebranded as the funky new BATTLEZONE ™ featuring the white knuckle awesomeness that is the Extreme Paintball Experience © 

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