Queen Elizabeth's long goodbye should not have overshadowed the cost of living crisis – Christine Grahame MSP
It was a long ten days but finally it ended (almost) with the state funeral of the long-serving Queen Elizabeth of Scots.
You will recall that she was not Elizabeth II but Elizabeth I here and not queen of Scotland but Scots – important constitutional facts. Now I had regard for the late queen whom I met on more than one occasion. She was gracious and pleasant, with that twinkle in her eye, so my following comments views are not about the person but the system.
Having lost both my parents, I recognise the grief of losing a mother, grandmother, no matter how old they were, who has always been there. I identify with a family grieving.
Yes, it’s a long-serving monarch and I understand the importance of tradition and symbolism in a monarchical state and yes I was a republican long before I came into politics but even for those who are not, the coverage in the media, particularly by the BBC has been just too much.
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Ukraine, typhoons in Japan slipped right down the news agenda and information on the economy hardly appeared. Added to that, my concerns about the amount of public funds expended when you consider just the costs of policing and high-level security for starters.
Will we ever know the full costs? Probably not, no doubt for “security reasons”. But none of what we saw came cheap. Then there were the cancellations of long-awaited medical treatments, closures of businesses.
Self-employed people who lost a day’s wages, nurseries closed when key workers such as nurses relied on them for childcare. Even some foodbanks closed their doors, for goodness’s sake.
Is there not an irony in watching the polished brass, pomp and circumstance, the privilege, over those days while others were denied access to food and couldn’t heat their homes?
This suited the Tory government down to the ground. The UK economy is bankrupt with the worst inflation of the G7 countries. But those ten days deflected from the horrendous fuel costs, inflationary food prices.
Surely after this, jubilees, state funerals, coronations, should be reined in. I am a democrat; I accept that the UK is headed by a monarch, but this pageantry is part of a bygone age and is certainly inappropriate, to say the least, when so many face an autumn and winter in poverty.
I also have concerns about the policing in Scotland while the ceremonies took place on the Royal Mile in particular. Freedom of expression to demonstrate peaceably is a hallmark of democracy and precious.
I defend that right even when I may disagree profoundly with the sentiments. Therefore, it concerns me that anyone showing that they did not support the monarchy was subject to police intervention, even arrest. Why? Some, indeed many, may have found it distasteful, disrespectful but was it criminal?
In the meantime and during the mourning period, my in-box continued to fill with real-life problems of businesses, large and small, on the edge of financial collapse because of rising costs, poor housing, concerns about surviving the winter and paying everyday bills.
Pageantry on that scale was an extravagance in a period of austerity, and pageantry does not heat your home or fill an empty stomach.
Christine Grahame is SNP MSP for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale