by Kam Sandhu – @KamBass
Wear Red started as a defiant act against the state funeral (costing millions), of a woman who’s indifference to that very same state became the reason for widespread devastation in the interest of private profit for a few. We caught up with the people behind Wear Red, who continue to spread information on government hypocrisy and continue to garner support, to find out more.
Can you tell us about how Wear Red started? And why red?
Wear Red started in the city of Plymouth as a protest against the public cost of Margaret Thatcher’s funeral at a time of supposed austerity…(the initial idea actually was borne out of a conversation between Paul (one of the admins) and a Church of England vicar who commented that it would be good to see people wearing red on the day of her funeral in memoriam of the peoples lives she ruined, and as a reminder to David Cameron and the Conservatives that there were a lot of people out there who not only despised her and her legacy, but saw the hypocrisy on display in the current government’s policies).
Paul then contacted James (the other admin) and asked him to help set up the protest group on Facebook called ’10 million for Thatcher’s funeral wear red in protest’. We just invited our friends initially, but neither of us expected what happened next…
We obviously struck a chord because within a couple of days we had over 1000 pages likes. A couple of days after the MSM had picked up on us and were trying to get statements and interviews off us (presumably because they were looking for the counterpoint argument about the waste of public taxes on a millionairess’ funeral). We were featured on Channel 5 news and ITN with screenshots of our page, and we were even mentioned in Australia, Japan, Norway, Sweden and others. After that exposure our page likes jumped from 1000 to nearly 6000 in a week and the reach of our better posts were in excess of 2 million people.
We should point out our protest was always non-violent and was promoted as something that anyone could do anywhere in the country. We asked people to send us pictures of them wearing red in support of our protest. The cover picture to our page is made up of a fraction of the images we received, from people of all ages and occupations.
Our posts were designed to be evocative and to show the blatant hypocrisy of the British government, who were on one hand preaching the need for austerity but with the other were happy to blow millions of taxpayer’s money on the funeral of a Tory icon. Our objectives from the beginning were to present news stories which wouldn’t get much attention in the right wing dominated media in a tabloid ‘infographic style’ format. We also ensured we had references and links attached to our posts so viewers could trace the source if they wanted.
After the funeral we asked our readership whether we should carry on spreading information about the morally bankrupt decisions of the UK government and big businesses. We were met with a resounding yes from our page followers so we then set up our current Facebook page ‘Wear Red Stand up and Be counted’, which about 1500 from the old page liked immediately. From that we have steadily grown (despite all Facebook’s efforts to filter our posts and make us pay them money) and we are now about to reach 10,000 page likes.
Red of course being the colour of anger at what Thatcher did, and Cameron is doing; as well as being universally recognised as the colour of the left wing which Thatcher and others thought they’d eradicated from British politics. (This has led to many many accusations that we are a stealth wing of the Labour party which is untrue – we are just 2 ordinary people who are disgusted at the way the country is being taken over by unaccountable commercial interest at the expense of the rest of us). We never really set out to become social media activists, and actually neither of us support the Labour party. We both hold left wing views but feel disenfranchised since the Lib Dems and Labour sold out to ‘the blob’ and abandoned their core principles. Tony Blair and Nick Clegg… We hate you.
We are both fairly environmentally minded and you will often see posts about climate change, fracking and other issues. Our views are probably most closely aligned to the Green party at the moment, although we don’t generally promote this as the page is more about exposing government hypocrisy.
Another core value of Wear Red is freedom of speech which means unlike the Conservatives, Britain First and other right wing groups, we allow criticism of what we are saying and do not censor material unless it is grossly offensive or inflammatory. We’ve posted articles to the Conservative facebook page, only to have them swiftly removed minutes later. (They don’t like it up ’em). We are also completely opposed to UKIP and their brand of ‘lowest common denominator’ populist politics which they use to disguise their real turbo neo-liberal agenda and bigoted view of the world…God help us if they ever get into power!
Much of the information supplied on your page is not widely reported in media, though it concerns important social issues, and you back up your information with sources. What are your thoughts and feelings on why the media has failed to report on these things as you have, despite the information being out there?
Well clearly the mainstream media (MSM) and the BBC (presumably with the threat of Murdoch being held over their heads by the Tories) are promoting the same right wing agenda, which aims to engineer (through disinformation and biased reporting) the consent of the UK electorate to support the free market neoliberal way of thinking and perpetuate their control over pretty much every aspect of our lives. Obviously anything that goes against this ideological narrative is ignored, or if it can’t be ignored, it is spun out of all recognition. (Remember the 60,000 strong march in Manchester in support of the NHS which the BBC did not headline, but instead listed it under local news)…Why are we paying our licences again?
You have made it clear that you have no affiliation to any political party. How do you feel about voting and the voting system? And why is it important to you to distance yourself from any of the parties?
Our FPTP system does not deliver representative democracy full stop. It is a truism that in general elections for most of us, votes don’t really count with only a handful of constituencies really helping decide who we have in office.
Clearly we need full proportional representation as it is the fairest electoral system out there. Of course thanks to Nick Clegg not insisting on this and accepting “a miserable compromise” which the electorate resoundingly rejected, we suspect this will not happen for many more years.
Look out for tomorrow’s post, detailing what policies Wear Red say we need as David Cameron announces his at the Tory Party Conference.