NO to Burning Effigies

Yesterday, the Scottish people rightly and successfully objected to Lewes, Sussex burning 2 effigies of Mr Salmond, First Minister of Scotland (albeit only for a few more days) during its Bonfire Night celebrations

To their credit, the Lewes Bonfire Society apologised

We are a traditional Sussex family bonfire society and have no political affiliations.

“We can assure that we have no wish or intention to offend and have never found ourselves in a position where we have done so in the past.

“To clarify we do not burn tableaux, they are incorporated into our firework display.

“In the light of the responses received to our tableau idea this year we have made the decision to withdraw it from our celebrations.

Here’s a video of the 2012 bonfire night in Lewes

Note the effigies (Pope and Ms Merkel) to be burnt (or as I understand it to be exploded with fireworks) and the Scottish Pipe Band playing “Scotland The Brave”

Bet they dis-associated themselves pretty damn quick this year!!

Meanwhile in another part of the UK, at another time of year . . .

In the past few years people in Northern Ireland have rightly and unsuccessfully objected to Loyalists burning Irish and Polish flags

and an effigy of Mr Gerry Adams, member of the Dàil, Republic of Ireland

adams effigy


What does effigy burning  signify?

It  is a symbolic act that means you strongly disagree or despise the viewpoint or deeds of the person whose likeness the Effigy represents.

The whole act carries more meaning when a large group of people gather to share the same dislike of the person whose image is being burned.

Burning people in effigy and copying the practices of the KKK is a clear statement of a desire to be able to burn and lynch people.

The fact that they don’t actually go out and do just that is not some kind of justification for their expression of the desire to do it“.

It certainly revives historical memories of past horrors,


And that was Westminster’s intention when it decided to pass an

Act of Parliament  on January 21st 1606 (3 James I, cap 1), to commemorate the unsuccessful Gunpowder Plot

It appointed 5th November in each year as a day of thanksgiving for ‘the joyful day of deliverance’, This was by bell ringing, a service, bonfires etc.

And so we sing God Save ye King!
And give God thanks that we
Who dwell in Merrie England
From Popish bonds are free.

So in England Guy Fawkes has been burnt for 400 years

“I must confess I have always felt faintly queasy over the custom of burning a Guy on a bonfire, in memory of Fawkes of that ilk.

Struck me as unnecessarily grim – or indeed Grimm”. 

Query: What happens if the UK stops effigy burning?

Answer: You limit our freedom of expression

Reply: Not so. Lots of people all over the world enjoy bonfires without effigy burning

Lots of people all over the world create effigies for political satire without burning them.

Take Viareggio in Italy for example

They are famous for their political caricatures.

Here’s Mr Berlusconi

berlusconi in viareggio

And Mr Obama.

omaba-in viareggio

The town hosts parades, gives out prizes for the best floats and effigies and attracts tourists

carnevale museo

Instead of being burned the effigies  are placed in a museum

People pay to go and see them and study how they are made

The town  has even started  making the effigies  all year round, each in a separate hangar to preserve the surprise element,

hangars in viarreggio

with the business employing  a permanent work force .


Suggestion: Maybe  the Bonfire Societies of Lewes, East Sussex and the Loyalists of Ulster could pick up a few tips from Viareggio?

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