The #cleanforthequeen campaign is disgusting. Whilst communities across the country suffer from long term deprivation, austerity and gentrification, the campaign – backed by Country Life and Keep Britain Tidy – expects people to do hours of unpaid labour to honour a woman who’s leeched off the rest of us for decades.
These anti-litter drives are mostly exercises in ideology – an excuse for the rich and the middle classes to sneer at poor and working class people. This can already be seen in the Clean for the Queen twitter account that is outing what it terms ‘grotspots,’ noticeably located in areas that have suffered from austerity and long term neglect. You won’t see those issues brought up here, but instead a blatant attempt to tap into a ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ spirit that last emerged in the clean up after the 2011 riots.
— Clean for The Queen (@cleanforqueen) 27 February 2016
With George Osbourne planning even more cuts in the next Budget, these types of campaigns step in as a replacement. Not only are they wholly inadequate to meet people’s needs but they divert attention away from political community organising that has an actual impact on the lives of residents. Groups like Haringay Solidarity Group and the newly formed Northampton Community Action work as part of local communities to challenge cuts and work on other issues such as the persecution of welfare recipients and immigrants.
Adding insult to injury, the campaign is backed by MPs such as Boris Johnson and Michael Gove whose party is pushing through the Housing Bill that is designed to wreck social housing and will result in more and more people pushed into precarious situations. The campaign is sponsored by multinational companies such as McDonalds and KFC that generate tonnes of litter a year.
What will we see next week on the national clean up weekend? Just the same nimbyist coalition of the comfortable middle classes that always turn out, looking for any opportunity to sneer at those worse off than themselves. As for the Queen, here’s hoping anarchist groups have something planned for her birthday to break up the sycophancy and deference that will be inescapable in the mainstream media…