Election Blog (6)
The Blair/Brown election broadcast by Anthony Minghella was beyond satire. Most people have looked for parallels with Minghella's film The English Patient. I think you have to look further back in his career to when he was script editor on Grange Hill because the petty squabbles, rivalries and jealousies between Blair and Brown are more redolent of school life.
It's the story of the intellectually gifted, rugby-playing Gordon taking Tony, the star of the Drama Group and front man of the school rock band, under his wing and helping him with his homework before standing aside so that Tony could become Head Boy. But then.........well you know the rest and I'm bored with this metaphor so let's move on to last night's Conservative broadcast..........
...........the Tories used a string of ordinary voters mouthing the Tory election slogans. They may well have been genuine voters but, given the nature of the film and the glossy way it was shot, they seemed more like those actors who wear white coats and pretend to be dentists in toothpaste commercials.
The woman who said she wanted controlled immigration just happened to be filmed walking along an empty beach. In one 2-second shot she was seen peering out to sea through one of those coin-in-the-slot telescopes that they put on promenades.
We will fight them on the beaches?
We know the Tories want 24-hour surveillance of our ports. But can they really be planning to form a new Home Guard to patrol the beaches of southern England?
"Are you sure that's not just Jim's fishing boat, Captain Mainwaring?"
"We can't be too careful, Wilson. That's probably what they want us to think. There could be several dozen asylum seekers inside those lobster pots."
"You can scoff, Wilson. You and your Manchester Guardian reading friends. Just remember we're here to protect the hard working families of Britain from hordes of foreigners running away from persecution and death. No backbone, these foreigners, Wilson. Threaten to cut their heads off with a sword and they're jumping into boats and heading for Walmington-on-Sea."
"They don't like their heads cut off, sir, the fuzzy-wuzzies! They don't like their heads cut off!"
"Shut up, Jones. Damn! This telescope's cut out. Anyone got another ten pence?"
Apparently the people at Labour Headquarters have nicknamed the attempt to win back the votes of those against the Iraq war 'Operation Beardie Leftie'.
This shows the infantile world of stereotypes that they inhabit. If you think back to the great anti-war march through London, the most striking thing about it was that it was a complete cross-section of society. A very cross cross-section actually. It included thousands of people who had never demonstrated before and I doubt that there were any more beards than in the population as a whole.
It's an indication of the default position from which political debate is conducted, that there are no equivalent shorthand phrases for people on the right. Or at least, I've just spent two minutes trying to think of one without success. The diminutive 'rightie' doesn't exist and whilst the media will frequently describe people as 'the left-wing MP', they rarely describe someone as 'the right-wing MP' unless they've been filmed goose-stepping down Whitehall in an SS uniform.
The Green Party manifesto is available only on the internet and not as a published hard copy. The latter, you see, would mean using paper and that's bad news for trees.
So that means their manifesto will be unavailable to - to take one example - millions of pensioners who are not on the internet.
Nor will it be available to anyone on the extreme fringes of environmentalism who lives in a hut in the woods with a wind-up generator and knits pullovers from vegetable peelings.
But don't computers use energy and don't they now pose a major recycling problem?
And if I read the Green manifesto on an internet-enabled mobile phone, aren't I contributing to the rash of radiation-emitting mobile phone masts and also risking giving myself a brain tumour?
It's all so confusing. I'd better go and hug the tree in my garden and see if I can work it out.