Sunday, September 28, 2008

Tameside MBC - Death Race 2008

A front page article in this week's Tameside Advertiser speaks volumes about the priorities of Tameside MBC and their contemptuous attitudes to public safety in and around their borough. The article reveals that TMBC consider Roadside Memorials to those killed by motor cars are 'distractions' and - even more bizarrely - 'dangerous'. Their plan is to remove them after a month of display. 

The whole matter is a stark illustration of how such deaths are depoliticised, and precisely because they are a 'necessary' part of the social existence entailed by the capitalism. The depoliticisation comes about in the description of these deaths as 'accidents' - i.e. inevitable and incidental, when in fact they are anything but. 

Earlier this year, the World Health Organisation forecast that deaths from car use could reach 20 million worldwide between 2000 and 2015, with 200 million facing serious injuries. If one is to include the bereaved and those left to care, the figure rises to 1 billion people affected by the motor car worldwide over a 15 year period. 

At these rates, the car industry kills more people than diabetes and malaria - 1.2 million people per year. It ranks seventh amongst the world's biggest killers. And yet huge amounts of human energy and money are poured into the industry and subsidiary concerns such as road building, which exacerbate the problem -  the veritable cause of death, and on such a colossal scale. 

All of which is why Tameside MBC make a conscious decision to remove any obstacles that stand to remind us of these facts (to the extent that the public is not already completely marginalised from learning about such shocking statistics). The Advertiser article quotes Councillor Peter Robinson (a former funeral director FFS! - no doubt his nickname is 'the grim reaper') stating that the place for tributes to the dead is in the cemetery, not on the road. The subtext is that the machine rolls on, and the dead and the reminders of them, must be cleared away, lest they hinder 'progress' and 'business as usual'. 

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