When you are a hated leader, war is a cure-all.
Margaret Thatcher, a woman who was a very long way from stupid, knew this and played it like a hand of cards in 1982. The Malvinas/Falklands episode, gore-spattered as it was, serves to demonstrate her grasp of this grim political truth and that dirty war may be better remembered as the South Atlantic leg of her re-election campaign.
Her ideological descendants, in unbroken power from then until now, showed the same penchant for suspiciously long-range martial values by indicating that the former Prime Ministers funeral will have a war theme. As if war and its excesses can be reduced to a kind of militarist Tarts and Vicars party.
Jingo then, the eternal fall-back of the un-blooded, of the inciter rather than the doer of bloody deeds, will be the order of the day. Soldiers from the regiments which fought to recover that windy colony will be assigned to stand, perhaps with long rifles held muzzle down and their heads bowed, as her casket is brought to St. Pauls.
Will there be a mention of the number of veterans of the Parachute Regiment, the Royal Marines or the Ghurkhas who have offed themselves since? Probably not, though their number exceeds that of those killed in the war-fighting itself.
What a slap in the face of the working class communities from which those soldiers were drawn, communities which the Iron Lady herself set about pillaging while their sons bled on Goose Green.
We can only speculate how many chose a life in the army to escape the coal pits, though we do know hundreds of youths escaping the tumbleweed northern towns she left behind have since died in Helmand Province and Basra for altogether more topical lies.
How many Geordie lads and Tykes died charging machine gun nests manned by conscripted Argentine boys – poor kids from the barrios - so that she could mitigate her excesses at home? And how many sing-song voices from the Welsh Valleys will never again ring out because of her?
Yet the men who will assemble under those same regimental colours on Wednesday must, in silence, see her to her grave.
If there is a highpoint in this, it may be that the establishment have straight away been driven onto their pseudo-patriotic and rascally last redoubt given the sheer force of public spite towards their lost champion.
Another simple joy might be that Tony Blair, whose opinion must apparently be asked for as a matter of reflex at the BBC, seems to have been knocked off his self-deluding axis at the sight of what awaits him when he passes.
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- Armed Conflict
- Falkland Islands
- Helmand Province
- Labour Party
- Tony Blair