1990s >> 1997 >> no-1112-april-1997

TV Review: A Partly Satirical Broadcast

In covering the General Election campaign we this month present our cut-out-and-keep guide to Party Political Broadcasts (all channels, most days). We will brook no dissent on the matter, fully realising that underneath the veneer of contempt affected by the working class, the population at large actually prefers its five-yearly beanfeast of PPB’s to normal scheduled TV. and other fripperies like food, sleep, alcohol and sex. Well, probably.

Simply keep this page next to your TV listings magazine throughout the campaign (that is presuming that you are not so keen that you already know the times of each PPB in advance and by heart). Then match up the on-screen happenings with the readymade guide below, keeping a careful points tally as you go. Points awarded are for observations during regular five minute broadcasts. Sightings made during the full crash-bang-wallop ten-minute versions only score half the points, this due to the operation of the market principle of increased supply over available demand, which causes devaluation.

Anyway, here we go. During Election 1997 keep your eyes peeled, your ears skinned and your senses sensitive to any of the following, scoring as you go: Tony Benn’s First Principle of PPB’s. Pioneered by the old lag in 1959 when he was Labour’s first Peter Mandelson, this is where the broadcast starts with magnificent views of the British countryside, and is accompanied by suitably stirring classical music excerpts of the Blake or Elgar variety. It is intended to lull the audience into a false sense of security before the voice-over intrudes with the message that all this glory will be ruined by the Tories or Labour if they get in. Used at least once by all the main parties in 1992, presumably on the basis that listening to a bit of Major. Kinnock and Ashdown was better than listening to them and having to watch them as well, (one point)

Soft-focus shots of mumsy Harriet Harman badgering sick pensioners in old peoples’ homes before going on to explain how Labour built up the health service, the welfare state and comprehensive education without support from the other parties (not actually true) and that only Labour can be trusted with such national treasures as they are the only politicians who choose to use them (also not true), (three points)

The Liberal Democrats devoting at least one of their broadcasts to ‘vox-pop’ type interviews with Lib Dem voters in an apparent attempt to convince themselves that they are not merely a repository of protest or tactical votes and that somebody, somewhere, must have genuine enthusiasm for their quirky brand of reformism, (five points)

Labour and the Conservatives in a competitive battle about who can scare the pants off Middle England the most with lurid and frightening broadcasts about the other’s hidden tax plans.each of whose broadcasts could have been made by the other party without anyone being able to tell the difference, (one point)

A reappearance for the Conservatives’ tried and tested formula designed to rekindle memories of the 1979 Winter of Discontent under Labour, exploiting the entirely misplaced belief that this was somehow caused by Callaghan. Healey and the IMF being ‘soft’ on trade union members. Deployed by the Tories in every single general election since; watch out for pictures of uncollected piles of rubbish in a wintry Trafalgar Square; out-of-focus film of dodgy leftist types with facial hair, standing on a picket line warming their hands around a brazier.and the famous shot of an airport flight destination board with “CANCELLED” next to all the flights, (no points at all for this, but 20 if it is not shown once during the campaign)

A PPB by the Militant Tendency, achieved solely on the basis of their fifth name change, this time to ‘The Labour Party’, in which they outline the honest and principled stand which makes them the true heirs and successors of Marx and Engels, (ten points)

A broadcast by the BNP which doesn’t feature two union jack flags behind the chosen fuhrer, a retired old soldier who fought the Nazis in WWII and who can’t stand Jews, blacks, commies, queers and trade unionists, but which coincidentally does show lots of footage of jack-booted skinheads doing ‘Seig Heil!’ salutes and spitting at black children in the street, (fifty points)

Tony Blair telling the viewers that they should vote for him because even though he cannot solve unemployment, poverty, crime and insecurity, he can smile nicely to camera and tell lies more convincingly than Major, (a thousand points)

Add up your total, and if you think that your high score may be a winner, send it to us at the usual address. Anyone scoring over a thousand points and who isn’t imbibing large quantities of hallucinogenic drugs will win a special prize. Happy viewing!

Dave Perrin