The “Thatcher” Coin
The original £1 coin was the Sovereign. But while these coins continue to be minted, the current worth of a real 1983 gold Sovereign is somewhere around £450 rather than its nominal worth of £1. But by 1983, continued inflation had devalued the currency to the extent that a £1 paper banknote had become small change. But the cost of printing £1 paper money had become excessive, so in that year a new £1 coin was introduced. The new coin received a mixed reaction from the public – but very quickly it became known as “a Thatcher” or a “Maggie” because, like the Prime Minister of that name, “it was a bit brassy, was two faced and thought it was a sovereign” – the latter part of the explanation being a reference to a Margaret Thatcher propensity to imitate some the regal characteristics of the Queen.
Mrs Teresa May, our current Prime Minister, appears to have a similar propensity.
This is a picture of Teresa May deputising for HM the Queen at a Sandhurst passing out parade on a day when Her Majesty was otherwise engaged handing out the Royal Maundy Money to pensioners at Leicester Cathedral.
Look at the hat. Her Majesty is always very careful to ensure that her face is never obscured by her hats – and Mrs May took the same approach with her headgear at Sandhurst.
Torygraph Telegraph uses the same “quasi-Royal” photograph to support this article: “Support for Brexit hits a five-month high, with 55 per cent of UK population now backing exit from European Union“. The photograph is, of course, wholly unconnected with the subject matter of the article.
The Sunday Express goes on to use the very same “quasi-Royal” photograph to adorn this article: “Theresa May uses Easter message to praise role of Christianity in Britain – The Prime Minister today urges the nation to “be confident” about the role Christianity plays in British life.”
Teresa May’s Christianity
There is, of course, a Christian tradition of exchanging Pascal Greetings at Easter, a feast which, after all, is in theological terms a more important Christian festival than Christmas. Wikipedia has a list of the appropriate Pascal Greeting in different languages ranging from the Greek – Χριστὸς ἀνέστη! Ἀληθῶς ἀνέστη! – to the Syriac: ܡܫܝܚܐ ܩܡ! ܫܪܝܪܐܝܬ ܩܡ! and including the English Christ is risen! Truly, He is risen! .
For Catholics rather than Anglicans, there is, of course, a traditional papal address to the faithful on Easter Sunday immediately prior to the blessing “urbi et orbi“. The full text of this year’s address is to be found here: “Easter ‘Urbi et Orbi’ Message of Pope Francis – full text and video”
However, there is no tradition of British Prime Ministers delivering an Easter Message to the people. According to this Telegraph Article Alistair Campbell is said to have told Tony Blair “We don’t do God” and it does not seem that Conservative Prime Ministers before David Cameron were in the habit of delivering Easter messages.
Writing on the Conservative Home blog, Rebecca Lowe Coulson, says this: “May’s Easter message. Most people don’t go to church. But they want a Christian country“. Frankly, that assertion ignores reality (not an uncommon approach for Conservatives like Ms Coulson).
Christians are something of an endangered species in the UK. According to the Faith Survey, UK church attendance has declined over the period from 1980 to 2015 from 6.48 millions to 3.08 millions which is just 5% of the population. The British Social Attitudes Survey indicates that Anglican (i.e Church of England) affiliation is declining faster than any other religious grouping and is likely to disappear altogether by 2033.
A video and the full text of Mrs May’s so-called “Easter message” can be found here on the Downing Street part of the government web site: “Easter 2017: Theresa May’s message – In her Easter message, Prime Minister Theresa May speaks about shared values and religious freedom, and wishes everyone a very happy Easter“.
As a Vicar’s daughter, Mrs May is probably only too well aware that the state established Church of England is a creature of and subservient to the state so she probably has no compunction in hijacking Christian concepts for her own political advantage. Stephen Bush commenting on i-News wrote: “This Easter, Theresa May’s nonthreatening, bland Christianity strikes the right tone“. But what Mr Bush writes is worth exploring a little:-
“Theresa May’s Easter message made headlines because Tony Blair’s former spin doctor, Alastair Campbell, accused her of implying that God would have voted Leave. But the remarkable truth about May’s Easter message was how bland it was.”
“She talked about her upbringing as the daughter of a vicar, she talked about the values that instilled in her, and she nodded to need to be “confident” in the role that Christianity plays in the lives of Britons, while also praising tolerance towards all faiths and none.”
“That is to say, she played to the prejudices of the right of the Conservative Party, who see a mosque at every street corner and come close to an aneurysm every time someone wishes them “Happy Holidays”, while reassuring everyone else that she wasn’t going to start singing hymns at Prime Ministers’ Questions.”
“May’s Easter message congratulates us for our history and our values – it doesn’t ask that we turn those values into actions in the future.”
In other words – Mrs May was using the occasion of Easter to further her political position on Brexit.
The best critique so far of the Wicked Witch’s address is that by Thomas G. Clark from North Yorkshire whose blog is called “Another Angry Voice“. Read his post here: “Theresa May’s Easter message is delusional nonsense” and it concludes with this observation:-
“So we have a ridiculously out-of-touch Prime Minister talking about unity when the UK is so divided it’s in imminent danger of actually splitting up, demanding that we all get behind an economically ruinous Brexit that only a minority of people actually voted for, administered by a Tory government that an even smaller minority of people voted for, led by an appointed Prime Minister that nobody voted for. The weird thing is that some people actually accept this horrendously delusional gibberish at face value.”
Writing in the New European, Richard Porrit has this: “Deluded: May again claims whole country is uniting behind Brexit“.
Finally, the Financial Times has this by Nick Clegg: “Theresa May’s Brexit stance has not softened but now it must – The prime minister if bold could salvage something in the talks“.
Although Mr Clegg is unquestionably right – one cannot be hopeful that common sense will prevail in Downing Street.
and we have just suffered the Wicked Witch’s attempt to do just that – delivering an “Easter Message” to the profanum vulgus.