It has been a week like no other

The queue is more than four miles long with waiting times of nine hours as I write. Nothing like this has happened in my lifetime. Certainly, it has been a week like no other like no other in living memory. Perhaps like no other. The sudden and dramatic death of Princess Diana created an unprecedented outpouring of grief and astonishing scenes in the capital as crowds flocked to be in London. To camp in the parks. To put flowers on the trees. But it does not match what is happening in London today.

The arrangements after the death of Queen Elizabeth II were well rehearsed. Like many deaths it was not unexpected but the timing was unknown. Her last duties as Mary Reid said earlier, were to accept the resignation of the outgoing prime minister, Boris Johnson and the incoming prime minister, Liz Truss. Perhaps we will never know Her Majesty’s views on the prime ministers she agreed could the lead country, or those leaders from around the world she must have met with gritted teeth behind the famous smile.

The Queen’s death has dominated coverage for days, at times squeezing out news from Ukraine and other economic, political and social stories of immediate and long term importance. Broadcasters, the print and online media have struggled to balance the news. The death of the monarch is quite rightly the dominant news story but the matters that would have dominated a week ago are now sidelined, pushed to the middle page and towards the end of news bulletins.

Not for the first time, the police have in a small number of cases overreacted as they did with the Sarah Everard vigil in 2021. As Paul Walter said a few days ago, “We should wear peaceful protests as a badge of honour. It is sign of a healthy democracy.”

We have our internal controversy over the last minute cancellation of Conference in Brighton. Hugo Gye in the i today, says:

“The Liberal Democrats have already cancelled their get-together because it will clash with the state funeral. Party conferences are typically orgies of self-congratulation, with the leadership focused on geeing up activists – and enjoying lavish evening events sponsored by corporate partners.”

There is perhaps more gleeing up than geeing up at Lib Dem conferences but we do make policy at Conference, unlike our bigger rivals. The cancellation has been extensively debated here on LDV in comments on articles by Caron Lindsay, John Grout, Sarah Onley, and George Cunningham.

The cancellation of some events is essential and understandable. Major football matches in London would have no police cover. Some hospitals in London cannot operate with the expected crowds and congestion on public transport. Many hospitals and some GP practices elsewhere have cancelled appointments for Monday, even though there no obligation to do so in NHS England guidance. But they may have problems staffing and with transport, and that may be good enough justification. With long waiting times for many hospital and GP appointments, it might be weeks before another appointment can be scheduled and as we approach the winter season, that cannot be good news.

Many shops will be closed on Monday. Even some pubs. Almost no public transport will run outside the major towns and cities. That will have a major impact, not least that people who live on their own can’t travel to watch the events unfold on Monday with friends. There is also likely to be a dip in the economy as people don’t spend or work, perhaps tipping the country into a technical recession.

But this is a unique time in our lives.

On Tuesday, normal political business resumes. There is a lot to catch up on. Parliament has been suspended for too long and the opportunity to scrutinise policy, legislation and regulations has evaporated. Internationally, we still have war in Europe. Broader afield, future of the Commonwealth is being challenged by Jamaica amongst others.

We salute the new King but the world is in a rush. Whether we are rushing towards the biggest crisis for generations or a new future might just depend on the next few weeks.

 

* Andy Boddington is a Lib Dem councillor in Shropshire. He blogs at andybodders.co.uk. He is Thursday editor of Lib Dem Voice.

Read more by or more about , or .
This entry was posted in Op-eds.
Advert

6 Comments

  • @ Andy Boddington, “Certainly, it has been a week like no other like no other in living memory”. Sorry, Andy, that’s stretching the hyperbolic elastic.

    To adopt an overused current phrase, “in my moments of quiet reflection”, I still see hundreds of servicemen on Leeds City Station cramming onto trains after 48 hours leave… off to the South Coast before D-Day, 1944. Dad was there, to re-join 175 Squadron in the New Forest. Mum was trying not to cry, so I couldn’t see her upset and scared and wondering how she could cope. There are thousands like me who
    remember such things, including my best friend whose Dad didn’t make it on Gold Beach. Fortunately Dad did come back two years later somewhat shaken with a shortened life expectancy but still alive.

    Now Mum and Dad loved the symbolism embodied in the Queen, and I’m sorry a very old lady of 96 who did her best has died….. but it was always going to happen, as it will to all of us. As Dad would say, “Just let’s get on with it “.

  • Steve Trevethan 16th Sep '22 - 7:50am

    How much will the funeral cost?
    Who pays?

  • Jenny Barnes 16th Sep '22 - 10:12am

    “The death of the monarch is quite rightly the dominant news story”
    let’s not worry about the death of most of humanity because of climate change.

  • In order of importance is this week more important in history than the week of getting 330,000 servicemen and women off the beaches at Dunkirk, thereby enabling the war to continue and the Royal Family to remain here rather than to go to Canada, probably never to return?

  • George Thomas 16th Sep '22 - 7:07pm

    I don’t quite know how to express it and I recognise others feel differently – clearly to some people especially over the age of 45 Queen Elizabeth II was a source of comfort and an example of leadership – but I am becoming more annoyed not less at the coverage as the week goes on.

    There is the well covered sense that we need to be politically active, to discuss many challenges facing us, but cannot be due to self-imposed pause on activity and indeed the cost of what still hasn’t happened but it’s not just that.

    It might be that today twitter is calling for David Beckham to be knighted when two weeks ago there were serious questions about his close ties to Qatar without him mentioning shocking lack of care for workers or LGBTQ+ community – is this the first example of Queen-washing your reputation?

    But I think it’s that in the last week a close friend. To me this is a real person (if you told me that Queen Elizabeth II was the fictional character and Paddington was non-fiction I might believe you) who deserve attention but everything is being sucked into Queen-coverage. Center Parcs was the headline earlier in the week but that funerals and non-emergency surgeries are being cancelled when waiting lists already an issue?! We’ve collectively lost our heads and I’m looking forward to Tuesday.

  • Graham Jeffs 16th Sep '22 - 7:30pm

    I suspect it’s lazy reporting as always. The ‘stories’ generate themselves.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

This post has pre moderation enabled, please be patient whilst waiting for it to be manually reviewed. Liberal Democrat Voice is made up of volunteers who keep the site running in their free time.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?

Advert



Recent Comments

  • Christian
    Opinion polls aren’t really improving for the Lib Dems, yet the economy is in crisis and Lab have no actual solution. Isn’t it time we flew the banner for R...
  • Paul Barker
    FYI Labour conference has just passed a motion calling for a change to Proportional Representation, this is a big step forward but conference does not decide p...
  • Julian Tisi
    I have a few disagreements with the OP. First - democracy: we must surely continue to support the concept of an elected HOL (or at least the vast majority must...
  • David Raw
    I’m old enough to remember Harold Wilson getting a huge amount of stick from the Tory press for a definite Government decision to devalue the £ by 14% back i...
  • Alan Jelfs
    Too complex. Keep it simple. Abolish the House of Lords and have a parliament for England, like Scotland and Wales do. It could sub-divide into regions later,...