Thursday, April 29, 2010

Achtung! Don’t Mention Ze Election!

God knows I’ve done my best to make this blog an election free zone. I’ve resisted commenting on the televised debates (mainly because I’ve very easily resisted watching them). I’ve resisted making derogatory comments about the Tory poster campaign featuring David Cameron, tie off, sleeves rolled up, man of the people getting ready to “muck in” with the rest of us. I’ve even resisted posting a photograph on this blog of the papier-mâché butt I have fashioned out of all the political fliers that have been posted through my letterbox over the last two weeks – enough to account for a large denuded hillside in Scotland, I shouldn’t wonder.

I didn’t want to get political, you see. Not because you’re not interested (though possibly most of you aren’t) but because it has reached saturation point here in the UK and I’m sick of it. It’s being overdone and it’s being overdone badly. We don’t overdo things here in the UK as professionally as the Americans do. When we overdo things it just looks excessively shoddy instead of just shoddy.

But Monday night I accidentally caught a little bit of the televised Party Political Broadcast by the British National Party.

And it riled me. It offended me.

I felt affronted.

Not by anything that was said because when I saw it was the BNP I immediately switched off mentally.

But I was offended by the imagery.

It opened with air raid sirens wailing over a black and white archive footage shot of an anti aircraft searchlight.

Trying to tap into that war time spirit, you see. Trying to tap into the received stereotype of the good old honest-to-God white faced blue collar worker standing at arms with his neighbour in the face of adversity; in the face of overwhelming odds.

And then the icing on the cake: Nick Griffin squatting behind his desk like Jabba The Hut in a Burton’s suit talking reasonably and calmly about whatever it is the BNP would like us to believe that they believe. And in the background, deliberately in shot, the ultimate in product placement. A nice little framed portrait of Sir Winston Churchill.

Plainly the BNP do not do subtle.

And that is what annoyed me.

Do they really think people are that dumb? Do they really think that people who weren’t even around to experience the actual real war will buy into the BNP on the back of some pseudo contrived fake mishmash of Britain’s old war time 1940’s spirit?

Do they really think that people’s knees can be jerked so easily?

Plainly they do. Plainly they think that the British people really are that dumb (and dumberer).

Plainly the BNP think that their party embodies the spirit of Winston Churchill, Boudicca and The Ghost of Christmas Future all rolled into one fat red, white and blue stick of Blackpool rock.

Roy Chubby Brown is the fifth horseman of the Apocalypse: stupidity.

It is this assumption of the nation’s gullibility that makes me angry.

And it is the BNP’s willingness to manipulate the truly gullible among the population with this trite 6th form pub lounge campaign that makes me angry most of all.

Because there will be people, alas, who will fall for it. Who will buy into it. Who will give themselves over to it and think they are doing the patriotic thing. The right thing. The war time spirit and all that. Fighting the good fight.

For all I loathe the concept wars, the semantic duelling and the psychological fencing of both the Conservative’s and Labour’s political campaigns they do at least credit the nation with some intelligence with all their subliminal posturing. They at least assume that the average man on the street is in some way media savvy.

But Winston bloody Churchill and WWII?

Oh come on!

All it did for me is make me mentally replace the portrait of Churchill with one of Hitler and hang a swastika behind Nick Griffin’s head. I mean one stereotype is as good as another, right? If we’re going to deal in knee-jerk broad strokes and buy into old propaganda let’s do it properly.


On the positive side, I at least know [if I didn’t already] who I’m not voting for.


Gappy said...

Did you see Nick Griffin on Question Time? It was a hoot - except that it wasn't. The man can barely string an intelligent sentence together. He has no grasp of even basic history. He really doesn't come across as being very bright at all. So it may not be that he's underestimating the publics intelligence - it may be that you're overestimating his.

Steve said...

Gappy: ma'am, I don't doubt that I am guilty as charged. ;-)

Gina said...

OMG that is a seriously nasty photo isn't it? Tee hee!

The BNP is odious. I am afraid I could not bring myself to watch its broadcast. Although really David Cameron is more dangerous as he actually stands a chance of getting into office. Not sure I could bear to live in a Tory Britain. It is pretty conservative in Australia but at least the weather is better.

lunarossa said...

I won't comment on this as seeing who tuling Italy, I don't have any right to criticize Britain's political parties! Just feel sorry, as you say, that certain people will fall for this. I think I've mentioned before that I'm not allowed to vote and this hurts but not as much as paying £300 for getting a British passport. As if this make me more committed to Britain than I'm already now. Paying taxes (and a lot) and VAT, generating income, married to a Brit and with two half Brit kids, home owner etc...Well, maybe if Clegg wins he will change this having a Spanish wife himself! Talking about Clegg, well he's a real "dish". Just worth voting for just for his looks! I bet you're happy now that I'm not allowed to vote. Ciao. A. ;)

Steve said...

Gina: that's a very good point and I have serious fears about the Tories getting back in. I well remember the Thatcher years (we are still suffering because of the damage her administration did to this country) and Karen and I would be financially worse off (disasterously in fact) if the Tories got back in. Unfortunately the BNP can't be dismissed out of hand; they've got toeholds in some areas and contribute to a seriously unsettling social undercurrent nationally.

Lunarossa: I'm actually appalled that you cannot vote! If you live here and pay taxes here then you should have a say in who runs the country... (even if you do fancy Cleggy!)


Anonymous said...

My feelings precisely Steve. I could not agree with you more. I have been watching the debates although I can only vote on the by elections as I do not hold a British Passport but have lived here for over 15 years. I must say I do like Cleggy as well

Steve said...

Janete: nothing wrong with a bit eye candy in the murky world of politics! None of them do anything for me though! ;-)

English Rider said...

Whoever said "The peasants are revolting" encapsulated my thinking exactly.

Steve said...

English Rider: and some of the toffs aren't much better either. And if some of those get into power it might be rather pleasant to revolt...

Anonymous said...

He looks several sandwiches short of a picnic in that photo too - I had to scroll past it very fast to get to the words. God knows why anyone is stupid enough to vote for that bunch of nasty minded bullies and bigots.

Steve said...

Alienne: you have to be careful who you call a bigot these days but I think you're pretty safe with the BNP! ;-)

French Fancy... said...

Oh what an odious little man - sorry, Steve, not you.

Mind you, come results day I am so NOT looking forward to the smug grin on Dave's smug little face.

As for leaflets through letterboxes - in France (yes, here I am, banging on again about the positive differences) they are only allowed to put one leaflet for each candidate in one's postbox.

Steve said...

FF: France sounds so much more civilized and eco-friendly. As for smug Dave, I wouldn't be counting my chickens until the fat lady signs. Or something like that.

MommyHeadache said...

Just be pleased you don't live in the USA and have to deal with the BNP equivalent the people who belong to 'The Tea Party' movement constantly going on about the constitutional racism of electing a black president and alluding to federal interference in their rights as 'communism.' I am truly appalled at the display of confusion, anger, and breath-taking ignorance of the members of the Tea Party and hope they run out of steam soon.

Steve said...

Emma: I don't think I'll be able to say "more tea, vicar?" ever again. What a shame the world is populated by these little groups of odious people. And a bigger shame that there are people out there who give them headspace.

AGuidingLife said...

The BNP leaflet dropped my village on St Georges day

They were just trying to jump on the Nationalistic feeling - I was very angry with the leaflet and wanted to DO something and there is nothing to be done...that is the democracy in action - maddening

Steve said...

Kelloggsville: I share your disgust but this seems to be the typical dirty trick that the BNP use without any sense of irony or self awareness at all.

Annie G said...

Steve, I've just realised there are advantages to living in a top floor flat - we haven't had any leaflets 'cos no-one can be bothered to walk up the stairs!
As for Sick Griffin, his hair might come in useful if there's an oil shortage
Yup, like you, I'm fed up of it all now...

Steve said...

Annie: maybe there's virtue to be had in living in a lighthouse...? Might have to give it a try if I get anymore politico-junk mail through my door!

Punch and Judy said...

Indeed, some of them are yickier than others - but they all seem like a bunch of bad actors fronting something us the peeps may not want to see, hear or nose about too mush at all.

Again, I'm guessing; that most politicians are unaware of any agendas other than their own.

Golly gosh, that sounds nihilistic doesn't it? Quick! Where did I put my Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors? Ahh, that's a relief, left 'em chilling in the fridge along with the Babycham.

Fran Hill said...

They did interview Nick Griffin on Radio 4's morning programme and introduced him by saying, 'The catch-phrase 'I agree with Nick' is NOT being used about my next guest.'

'Thanks for the unbiased introduction,' Nick Griffin said.

Keep up the partisanship, BBC. Once you start treating Nick Griffin as an equal, you'll lose me.

Steve said...

Punch And Judy: I watched Paxman grilling Brown last night on the Beeb. I came away wishing that Paxman was up for election. Now he'd get things done.

Fran: weirdly I feel ambivalent about Griffin being treated as a joke... I think maybe it's dangerous. He is a threat, a very real threat... it's just that his tactics at the moment are infantile.

Anonymous said...

I don't think any of the parties credit the voters with intelligence Steve.

That's why we have the BNP.

The BNP is an expression of sheer frustration by a fair proportion of the electorate that the current choice are patronisingly poor.

They are partly like that because we, this society of ours, has wrapped itself in an anodyne, risk averse agenda which means that any mainstream political expression has to be stripped of passion, controversy and ends up being meaningless.

Don't blame the BNP. They are a symptom of the malaise and maybe we are being short sighted when we jump up and down at the sight of Griffin.

Perhaps the blame for his presence lies closer to home.

Steve said...

Anonymous: you make some good points and, yes, Griffin is perhaps something of a stooge for faults that lie elsewhere (possibly everywhere) in society. The existence of those faults doesn't justify Griffin and his ilk though does explain their existence in the 21st century. I object obviously to his manifestos but my piece was ostensibly to express disgust at the tawdry hijacking of wartime mythology to give their views some sort of validation.

Anonymous said...

If the present government and the previous ones hadn't made such a mess of things, then the BNP would not have had so much as a foothold. if you don't like the BNP, then blame what is now, and not them. They are only a sympton of today's rot.

The Joined up Cook said...

Oops........the anon comment 1st may 8.29pm was me.

I wasn't trying to hide Steve.

Steve said...

AWB: I figured it was you from your own blog on the subject! ;-)

Anon: I'm sure we are all partly to blame for today's society but the leaders and members of the BNP are solely to blame for the actions and manifestos of the BNP. Period. Personal responsibility and all that. Society as a whole might be culpable but not everyone in society has chosen to beef up BNP membership or create the bloody organization in the first place. There is no excuse for the BNP, rot or not.

Anonymous said...

If we hadn't allowed society to get lax, if we hadn't started to 'understand' criminals, and if we hadn't turned a blind eye to the amount of illegals who come here to work, and rape our social security system of money for benefits, then the BNP would not have ammunition for it's sympathisers. It simply wouldn't have a leg to stand on.

They are only here because of the way society has lapsed. Their policies are recognised because people actually agree with what they are saying!

The worst thing of all is that people who swindle the benefits system are the ones who sympathise with the BNP. You couldn't make it up. Like it or not they are now a viable political party and you can blame new Labour and partly the Tories for it.

It is time we started to value this country, and our children's heritage. I am not racist, nor would I have anything to do with the BNP, but you can see why so many do.

Steve said...

Anon: I'm sure there are far more British passport holding "born here" Brits who swindle the system than illegal immigrants. To swindle and get something for nothing is a very human trait that is common to all nationalities. As for society getting "lax" - would you prefer something more draconian? It's not society that is lax but the admin and bureaucracy. And again, where there are rules and regulations there will be people - of all nationalities - who will try to flout them. A need to tighten up the loopholes does not create the BNP. Simple xenophobia does. And that is down to bad education, received prejudice and lack of social conscience.