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The Blazing Emblem of Blair's Britain

Damien Hirst's most revolting spectacle will go on display in an exhibition of Blairism that should be an occasion for national shame - instead it will compete for gawping crowds with the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. If you are from the UK, go and see it dressed in black.
Anthony Barnett
Anthony Barnett
22 November 2011

Damien Hirst's skull of diamonds is going to go on display in the Tate Modern Turbine Hall, the BBC has announced - it will be there from April to June, in which month it will bask in the added glitter of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

We should go to see it dressed in black, in mourning for our country.

Created under the "Renaissance" of Tony Blair, it went on the market in the last months of his regime.

It would be impossible to make it up. It is called, "The Love of God".

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The title aptly echoes the former Prime Minister's high-profile religiosity. An emblem of death, it reminds us of the many victims in Iraq and should haunt his work as Middle East 'peace envoy'. Entirely imitative of others, especially Mexican work, its originality lies only in its excess. Its spirit is the cold worship of money. It cost £14 million to make, with over 8,600 diamonds, and was allegedly sold to an "investment group" for £50 million, although this was probably heavily discounted, like all of Blairism. Only we are not told by how much.

Like Blair himself, Hirst got out at the top of the market. Naturally, the maker is a shameless self-publicist, calling his own work (for who else would?) "uplifting, takes your breath away".

Meretricious, morbid, derivative, created for the spectacle, hugely over-priced, it is the perfect visualisation of the dark side of Blair and company, a ruling elite which sold peerages, courted Gaddafi and lauded bankers... now it will be celebrated under the government of the self-proclaimed "heir of Blair" and his Liberal Democrat partners, who are doing their best to drive voters from the electoral roll

Riot? Why should you riot and steal paste diamonds from a crappy local store when you can become an artist and steal the real things?

So here are some criminal mug shots of our feral leaders in their better moments:

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If you recognise them please call the Press Complaints Commission.

It isn't Hirst who should be given a retrospective at the Tate Modern, it is the Hogarth of our time.

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With many thanks to Steve Bell and his cartoon website, belltoons.co.uk

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