Last week the ‘Clean for the Queen’ campaign held its parliamentary launch, which was attended by more than 70 MPs including David Cameron, Boris Johnson and Michael Gove. This is why social media was full of frankly hilarious photos of Michael Gove and Boris Johnson posing picking up litter wearing the campaign t-shirts.
The campaign is run by Keep Britain Tidy, a group that was established in the 1950s that aims, as its name suggests, to deal with the rising problem of litter, to coordinate other environmental campaigns and to encourage pride in Britain. Their current ambassador is TV presenter Kirstie Allsopp. ‘Clean up for Britain’ was launched in partnership between Keep Britain Tidy and Country Life magazine. The aim is to encourage people to volunteer to clean up their local areas, particularly on a special clean-up weekend on 4th-6th March, in time for The Queen’s 90th birthday in June 2016.
This concept does not sit easily with me. Of course we should all take pride in our communities and make the effort to keep them clean and tidy, plus we need to foster some community spirit back into Britain. But we should do this for ourselves, not for the Queen.
Government cuts in the name of austerity have affected all levels of public services, including the people who work tirelessly to keep our streets clean and collect our household rubbish. But now prominent members of the government want the hardworking British people to spend their well-earned free time tidying for the Queen. Or we could use some of the huge amount of taxpayers’ money that is spent on the monarchy every year to pay for this initiative if it is going to go ahead.
I am aware that Keep Britain Tidy are using the Queen’s birthday as an excuse for more people to get involved in the upkeep of their local communities. However, I am not sure of the success of this initiative in the long run. I personally believe that it is the local nature of campaigns that gets people involved. Will the vast majority of people continue to contribute to their communities? I think not. People are busy. On top of their own jobs and family lives, there are other forms of volunteering they can choose to participate in!
Keep your communities clean for yourselves. Get involved with local groups and Keep Britain Tidy if you are that way inclined, but do it for yourself, not for Queen Elizabeth II.
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