Since Mrs T departed this world last year, many of those out there on the right have laid claim to her memory. Maggie would have loved this idea, hated that: she would have approved of some behaviours and abhorred others. Never mind “Shagger” Major or any of the others, time and again it came back to what the country’s only woman Prime Minister would have wanted.
Then there have been suggested Thatcher tributes, and here the opportunity to secure what Private Eye calls the “Order of the Brown Nose”, or OBN, has tempted some pundits into the most toe-curlingly embarrassing punts, the latest of which has come from Ed “Case” West at the Spectator. “Surely we should have called our new flagship HMS Margaret Thatcher?” he asks, rather than HMS Queen Elizabeth.
To which the answer has to be that no we shouldn’t, and don’t call me Shirley. But let West have his say on the new aircraft carrier: “This beast will be carrying Merlins, Chinooks, Apache and 250 troops, and also features a ‘Highly Mechanised Weapon Handling System’, which I don’t quite understand the meaning of but definitely makes me aroused”. Er, yes ... maybe you should see a doctor about that, Ed.
Anyhow, back to the naming business: “But couldn’t the Powers That Be have come up with a more original name? I love the royal family and everything, but how many things do we have to name after them? Aren’t there other people we can commemorate? The French tend to honour great people instead”. Ah, we should be more like the French when it suits the argument.
Then he makes his pitch: on the idea of naming after Royalty, “I imagine this is part of a British tendency to avoid controversy, as the obvious choice for this new ship would be the HMS Margaret Thatcher (which admittedly might not be hugely popular on Clydeside). I imagine the Americans will have named one of their ships after her before we have”. Fair play to the USA if they want to do that.
The simple fact of the matter is that the Royal Navy does not generally name after politicians. It does, however, name ships after Royals, former naval commanders, towns, cities, and counties of the UK, and in the past, outposts of Empire. I suspect that West knows this: it makes for safe speculation, while going for the OBN for all he is worth. Thus he can demonstrate his loyalty to Mrs T’s memory.
That is not dispelled by his “look over there” final paragraph: “If it makes people happy we can name the sister ship the HMS Tony Benn, although I’m not sure he would have appreciated it. As it is, it will be called HMS Prince of Wales, which is just boring snoring. I’d rather they named it HMS Mary Seacole or HMS Equality and Diversity”. Like he cares, or anyone else does.
Expect more Thatcher grovelfests in the near future. And equally bad ones.