Why Holding a Vigil for Big Ben is Ridiculous
Scrolling my Twitter feed on my lunch break, I noticed that Big Ben was a trending topic again. Why? Well, today’s the day it falls silent for repairs, not to bong regularly again for four whole years, except for special occasions like Remembrance Day and New Year’s. This is truly a very dark day in British history…right?
Well…no. Big Ben may be iconic, and it may be a shame for many of us to not be able to hear its familiar chimes marking each hour, but in the grand scheme of things, is it really a big deal?
To give us some perspective, let’s remind ourselves that this is the same city where one in every 51 people is homeless, where an increasing number of people are turning to food banks, and where just a few months ago, people died in their homes at Grenfell Tower due to inadequate fire safety standards. In other words, if you’re sad about a clock, I’m not sure you’re seeing the bigger picture here. If I’m not mistaken, MPs didn’t gather with bowed heads to hold a vigil for the people who died at Grenfell.
Forget Brexit, poverty, NHS, terror, Trump & N Korea. I'm off to cover the world's biggest story: Big Ben's bongs & a mass demo by a few MPs— Kevin Maguire (@Kevin_Maguire) August 21, 2017
This country has gone insane. pic.twitter.com/XDx8B5wD7l— Angry Scotland (@AngryScotland) August 21, 2017
When you think about the real issues people are facing today, does a clock really matter? Seeing MPs bowing their heads for Big Ben, I’m not surprised that this time of year is known as ‘silly season’, a time when the media write particularly frivolous news stories in the summer months, while Parliament takes its recess. We voted for these MPs to represent us – is your MP really representing you? Even if your local MP is not the one you voted for, it’s important to remember that MPs work for you. This website lets you search for your local MP and find out how they’ve been voting on issues and proposals such as HS2, higher taxes on banks, health and laws to promote equality and human rights. They are, of course, on recess at the moment for the summer (hence why they have time to attend a vigil for a clock) but you can nonetheless still write them an email to explain what concerns you have in the local area.
If only our government cared as much about genuinely important issues as much as they did a big clock #BigBen— Alice Anne (@alicespake) August 21, 2017
You don’t see this kind of fuss going on anywhere else in the world when a landmark needs to close for repairs, but apparently this is what happens in Britain these days. I just wish more was being done to help people in this country who are really struggling, from normal families who find themselves choosing between food and heating in winter, to students whose maintenance loans don’t even cover their rent, giving 50% of students money worries so severe that they can affect their mental health.
So, I don’t know about you, but I’m not worried about Big Ben. I am however, hoping that the person who runs this twitter account will be able to rest soundly for four years*. Keep calm and carry on, everyone.
*Saying that, they seem to be continuing the virtual bongs for the moment.
This article was originally published in August 2017 . It was last updated in November 2023