ANNA ISAAC loves the Jubilee but aint a fan of Polly Toynbee.
Why. Why does Cambridge persist in ignoring public holidays? Why do people hate the Jubilee?
I had an exam on the day of the Royal Wedding and now I can’t go up to London for the Jubilee. I love the Queen. She has had tea once a week with every PM since Churchill. She eats her brekkie from Tupperware. I really like tea and the shiny organised fun of Tupperware. I might tease myself for a moment by trying to decide which I love more…
But can I go and watch her progress down the Thames? No. Can I join in what is a rare occasion to have a nationwide apolitical party? No. This otherwise stupidly archaic institution of Cambridge will not accept national holidays: I have to sit an exam.
Polly Toynbee would probably think that is just as it should be. Apparently the monarchy is the main reason we can’t achieve social mobility. She describes the Jubilee as ‘The wizard of Oz in the Emperor’s clothes’, which is a ridiculous analogy (especially as I’d probs take note of a naked wizard). She claims the monarchy ‘subjugates the national imagination, infantilising us with false imaginings and a bogus heritage of our island story.’
It doesn’t, because we aren’t all morons who forget that colonialism happened as soon as we see a sparkle sparkle crown. The Jubilee is not a cause of regressive class politics. It is a much-needed bit of public joy in these miserable times. I’m not going to wake up on Wednesday a committed Tory who praises wide scale tax evasion or thinking that it’s right for stupid ‘but better-crammed children of a middle class more adept at cementing their children into the upper echelons than ever’ to take university places away from other people because of the Jubilee. I don’t think any one else will either, we’ll all just be hungover.
If the Queen is a privileged snob, Ms Toynbee comes across as something much worse: someone who thinks they are above positive aspects of shared culture. Someone full of self-loathing for the country they come from. I’m not a massive nationalist, but I do think hating symbols of Britain plays into the hands of those who are.
This attitude of “can’t you see you’re all behaving like idiots” and “society is asleep” alienates far more than it inspires. It presumes “the masses” are so entirely separate from these well-educated, clever anti-monarchical lefties. It compounds intellectual class difference.
Yes we are falling into economic depression, yes British society has lots of serious problems, but the Queen and the Jubilee are neither the cause nor symptoms of those problems; the Cabinet is. I suggest you pipe down Polly. Put up some bunting, have some pimms and a bit more faith in the rest of us.
I won’t forget about my overdraft or “real” history if I sing the national anthem drunkenly after exams – but it might take the edge off. As my friend Kate says: ‘She’s the closest thing to a Grandma I have: God Save The Queen’.