1990s >> 1992 >> no-1052-april-1992
Between the Lines: Debate of the Decayed
Debate of the Decayed
On a recent visit to the House of Commons, collecting policies for his long-term research into the fossil record, your TV columnist happened to stumble upon three familiar-looking party leaders, each rehearsing speeches which mass TV audiences were never to hear. In the absence of the TV show-down which would have been as politically illuminating as One Man And His Dog (without the Man, and with ballot papers issued to the sheep), we here publish the texts of the speeches which were never made.
“Let me say at the outset that my government has nothing to offer you except more of the same. As you can see, this leads to enormous prosperity for everyone. If elected, I shall produce a Charter, to be placed on all bus shelters and town-hall lavatory doors, which will be signed by me so that nobody will dare to ignore it. It will promise that trains will run on time and
Prime Ministers will be honest — or else they will face a £200 fine, or a knighthood in the case of the Prime Minister. Above all, my worshipful followers, I remind you of my motto: If it isn’t hurting it isn’t working (based on an original idea by Harvey Proctor). I shall see to it that all NHS doctors be issued with framed parchments containing these comforting words. So, vote Conservative and don’t be deceived by our opponents’ lies about poverty, unemployment, homelessness or beggars on the street, all of which are caricatures created by Channel Four documentary-makers”.
The Future Lord Neil
“Your Majesty, Lords, Ladies, Very Rich People, moderate trade unionists and little old ladies — I appeal to you to vote for the party which you can feel safe with. You see, there are mud-spreaders around who want you to believe that capitalism will be unsafe in our hands. Just because it has been the case that we have been in government eight times and been clueless how to make the profit system run in the interest of the working class. Now we have the answer: we intend, without reservation or hesitation, to make the profit system run in the interest of the capitalist class.
We believe — and we ask you to believe — and furthermore, we ask that you believe that we believe — that only by bleeding the workers dry will this great country of ours be even greater.
To this end, we shall continue the policies of the Thatcher government (selling off council houses, building nuclear missiles, breaking the unions), but we promise that, unlike the wicked, woeful Tories, we shall sing The Red Flag at our conference each year while we are administering the legalised robbery of our dear brothers and sisters in the trade unions.”
“I think . . . I think I think that my party is different from the others. We are different because . . . And secondly, we are in favour of a system of voting which will get more Liberals into the Commons bar. Moreover, I am an extremely butch commando and can speak Chinese. So vote for the Alliance . . . . I mean . . . “
Democracy is not served by sound-bite exchanges between Presidentially-styled leaders who are looking for sheep to fleece. TV debates are not the answer. If you are convinced of your case you will stand up on a public platform and put it before an audience that can answer back.
The Socialist Party wrote to the sitting MP for Holbom and St Pancras, Frank Dobson, weeks before the election was called, inviting him to debate in public. At the time of writing he has not even replied. He knows that there is a big difference between the TV election soap opera and the glare of a large audience who want to hear answers to their problems — and then want to answer the answers.
That we have been spared the Major-Kinnock-Ashdown slogan exchange is a small mercy; that they have been spared the harsh judgment of workers who regard them as being as inspiring as a repeat series of Crossroads is a delay which must be rectified.