The Jubilee: All Depends Where the Camera Points.
Anyone following the EyeOnWales twitter feed will know that we had some issues with all of the Jubilee palaver. General consensus from critics have fallen on our complaints as being those of lefty republicans, militant Welsh nationalists, xenophobes and most commonly, unpatriotic bastards. Who knows, maybe a bit of all of the above is indeed applicable. While not a republican blog at heart, we certainly have some issues with our democracy being advertised as a model to the world, while having to bend a knee and open a wallet for a monarch whose position is afforded to her by god (theoretically). We certainly have issue with decades of under investment in Wales coupled by massive contemporary spending cuts, while forking out direct and indirect costs running to the billions for a party. As for being unpatriotic, we have our Welsh flag flying proudly thank you very much, and it will remain flying proudly once all of those little plastic Union Jacks have been discarded to create some of the most festive landfill sites seen in the world – our patriotism is not defined by a government dictate to start celebrating.
But none of those issues has really grated. If people want to go celebrating the life of someone, fine, we don’t like the expenditure, or agree with the sentiment, but hell, there are plenty of things our respective Governments waste money on, this is just one more to put on the pile of burnt money, while people in Britain do far stupider things on a Friday and Saturday night than stand in the rain waving plastic flags at boats, in the grand scheme of things, it’s no great evil.
What does grate though, is the insistence of the national media in portraying the Jubilee as something that ‘everyone’ has got on board for. ‘The Nation comes together’ we are told, ‘street parties held across the nation’ we are told, ‘we are one country’ people insist, ‘the unity of the country’ is on display for all the world to see. You could mostly copy and paste these catch phrases into the commentary of any of the major news carriers in Britain (Wales included) and then on to the world. But was it really the case?
On the morning dog walk, Union Jacks have been spotted popping up here and there, the bunting going up, being blown down across the roads, to be replaced by some more the following day. Point your camera at those decorated houses and you would have yourself a fine snapshot of a nation in party mood yes? Then pan that same camera to the left, then to the right, then directly behind, nothing, just houses, no flags, no bunting, just homes, as they were and as they will remain. The dog walk usually identifies around 15-20 houses where the occupants have gone to the effort of decorating for the Jubilee. For each one of those houses, roughly 20-30 more will be found undecorated. Point your camera here, and what story do you then have for the newspapers? Television audiences are being cited as well by some as proof positive of the national mindset towards the Jubilee. Some 17million watching? Yet when the same argument is presented that some 45million were not watching, it is dismissed out of hand – proof of nothing the Jubilee fans shout loudly, except perhaps that the majority simply don’t care.
For us, it’s not so much an argument about becoming a Republic, or having a free and independent Wales, it’s about not being presented to the world as having taken part in a celebration of all the things that are the opposite of those sentiments. Freedom of choice and expression is a theoretical tenant in Britain, undermined by a national media that has been intent on painting a picture of unity in the worst example of jingoism in recent years, regardless of the reality. So perhaps that reality can be summarised for the many international eyes falling on the British Isles these past four days as such:
1. There are a lot of people celebrating the Jubilee, not everyone, not a majority, but a lot of people, and they had a fun time of it.
2. There are some people using the Jubilee to campaign for a Republic, not many, far from a majority, but some people, and they had a fun time of axe grinding.
3. Then there is the majority, not everyone, but most people, those who did not watch on television, stand by a river watching a boat, or climbed a hill to light a beacon, those who did not decorate their houses, or eat tea and cakes in the middle of a street.
Categories 1 and 2 have had plenty and some media coverage respectively, category 3 has been lumped in with category 1, and it leaves a sour taste in the mouth.
We are not asking for less coverage of the Jubilee (though that would be quite welcome, I remember something happening in Syria, and some Egyptians being angry about something, but world news really has no place on the BBC while a party is going on in London), what we are asking for is less generalisation in the commentary. Some of the nation came together, yes, the majority did not. It would be nice if the world knew that, and was not painted a picture of everyone in the British Isles as having decorated their faces, heads and homes in Union Jacks; some of us were protesting against it, most of us ignored or didn’t care about it – and when discussing the impact of the Jubilee, perhaps some questions might be asked of why the majority didn’t join in, as opposed to why a vocal minority had a party.
Just one question on that topic perhaps, rather than presenting a million celebrating as being representative of the actions of 60+million, please BBC, are you listening? Oh, I guess not, well, it’s okay, I know you are busy, lot’s more Jubilee to be broadcast after all…