New Internationalist

Pass the sick bag, it’s Jubilee time

It’s been a bad year so far. A really bad year. What with the old-Etonian-led Coalition Government hell-bent on destroying the welfare state – including our treasured NHS – benefit cuts, high unemployment, tuition fees through the roof, hardly any affordable housing, school budgets slashed with teachers leaving in droves and Margaret Thatcher still breathing we now have to endure the Diamond Jubilee ‘celebrations’ and the Olympics.

And though we are constantly being told that in this age of ‘austerity’ we have to take the swingeing cuts to public services on the chin, the cost of putting on these events is phenomenal.

The cost to the taxpayer for the London Olympics could hit £11 billion ($17.4 billion), rather than the expected £9.3 billion ($14.7 billion), according to a recent government watchdog report.

Apparently it might not end there as the assistant commissioner of the Met, Chris Allison, admitted a few weeks ago that he has no idea how much it’s going to cost to keep the Olympics secure – which has already increased from £600 million ($947 million) to £757 million ($1.2 billion). And, to add insult to injury, Dow Chemicals is sponsoring the games.

For those of you who don’t know, on 3 December 1984 in Bhopal, India, more than 25,000 people died after inhaling poisonous gas that leaked from large tanks from the nearby plant containing the lethal pesticide methyl isocyanate. Tens of thousands innocent victims have subsequently suffered, and continue to suffer, appalling injuries and birth deformities. Union Carbide, the company responsible for the mishandling of the tanks, is now owned by yes, you guessed, Dow Chemicals.

They are responsible for the dire medical and environmental situation in Bhopal and only they can make proper restitution to the more than 570,000 people affected. Dow Chemical’s Olympic sponsorship legitimizes its abnegation of responsibility for the health and wellbeing of Bhopal victims, thereby perpetuating the denial of basic rights to thousands of suffering people.

But who cares when the great British public is being given the chance to ‘feel good’ about themselves, and ‘proud’ to host – and pay for – the Olympics?

Then there’s the Jubilee. Ah, the monarchy. How much that lot have cost us over the years has yet to be calculated. And the total cost of this current jamboree is not easy to find either – but the Department of Culture Media and Sport has estimated that the extra Jubilee bank holiday alone is likely to cost the economy around £1.2 billion ($1.9 billion), although in an impact assessment it noted that this figure could be as high as £3.6 billion ($5.7 billion).

And all this not including money being spent by central government and local councils. Indeed the total cost of royal travel alone (in 2011) much of it funded by the government, was £7 million ($11 million). This when many people can barely afford one family holiday a year.

North Tyneside Council is facing a budget cut of approximately £17 million ($27 million). One of the poorest regions of the UK is having to cut back considerably with all the appalling social consequences this will bring, but we’re still throwing millions of pounds at one of Britain’s wealthiest families for a few holidays and a boat (Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, has proposed the public donate a new royal yacht to the Queen as a mark of respect during this year’s diamond jubilee celebrations).

It gets worse. The recent Queen’s Diamond Jubilee lunch at Windsor Castle included a merry mix of tyrants and dictators among those invited, one of which being the despotic ruler of Bahrain, Hamad Al-Khalifa. Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said: ‘Inviting blood-stained despots is a kick in the teeth to pro-democracy campaigners and political prisoners in these totalitarian regimes.’

Furthermore, Sarah Waldron of Campaign Against the Arms Trade declared the Queen’s invitation, along with supplying the Al-Khalifa regime with arms, sends a message that the British monarchy approves human rights abuses. Now there’s a surprise.

I couldn’t care less that the pampered Mrs Windsor has lived to a ripe old age. And I resent having to pay for her and her family who are a bunch of corrupt, outdated, hypocritical parasites who belong to the dustbin of history not in a modern, democratic society. Instead her ‘subjects’ continue to fawn over them, help pay for them, touch their metaphorical forelocks and wave their silly little flags whenever the opportunity arises.

Pass the sick bucket. I’m going to puke.

Photo by dannybirchall under a CC Licence.

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