1990s >> 1999 >> no-1139-july-1999

TV Review: Our Masters’ Voice

Last month’s Euro election campaign is probably best forgotten—just as well, as most of the electorate appeared to have forgotten about it even before polling day. It was not that the political parties made no effort to influence the electorate, it just seemed as if they were going through the motions, well aware that wherever real political power lies in Europe it is certainly not with the European Parliament. The Party Election Broadcasts screened during the campaign must have been among the most hopeless and insipid on record.

The Conservative Party ran with a two-part playlet featuring a young, upwardly-mobile couple whose prose turned with the trivial to overtly political with all the subtlety and finesse of Yasser Arafat gatecrashing a barmitzvah. Labour’s best effort was another risible attempt at the canonisation of Tony Blair, the saintly führer.

The real British führer, of course, achieved a Party Election Broadcast of his own this time thanks to the BNP running a full list across most of the UK. Standing resplendent in front of the Cenotaph in Whitehall was the man who poses as the saviour of the white race, Mr John Tyndall, professional bigot, race hater and petty criminal. If ever there was a case to be made for lengthier prison sentences of the type advocated by the BNP, then this man must feature prominently. Even he, however, looked good next to the “vox pop” type interviews which followed, where stilted fascists posing as “ordinary” members of the public read from cue cards, turning a few minutes of nationalist rhetoric into what seemed like a lifetime of televisual embarrassment. Unusually for the BNP, their broadcast this time around did not feature Tyndall railing against all those impure elements who have taken the Great out of Britain—communists, Jews, blacks, homosexuals, liberals, teachers, Guardian-readers, social workers, feminists, etc. Rather like the Daily Mail, Tyndall now has a greater, more all-encompassing target than these minority groups: Europe itself. Britain must Get Out Of Europe he bellowed, NOW!

For those whose familiarity with the BNP extends beyond a PEB every few years, this is odd. If it is the case that opposition to all things European and support for everything home-grown and British is what now really defines the BNP’s politics then why is it that they have been happy to spend so much time in the company of European terrorists from Italy and elsewhere this last 15 years or so? Why is it that the BNP attends international gatherings in Europe where—bizarrely—other foreigner-haters from all the different nations of Europe are in attendance? And, while we’re on the subject, wouldn’t it be interesting to know how much of the money to finance the BNP’s election candidates (and hence its PEB) actually came from Johnny Foreigner? Questions, there are many, but answers no doubt there will be none.

Left, right
Also in evidence during the Euro-election campaign was that other authoritarian comedy act, Arthur Scargill and his ever-decreasing and increasingly amazing SLP. Like Tyndall, Scargill made sure the SLP put up nearly a full list of candidates so that it would be eligible for a Party Political Broadcast, and like the BNP, the SLP’s broadcast was a homily to the Little Englander political mentality, this time with a bizarre Stalinist twist. Despite their national exposure, it would appear that the SLP now presents no challenge whatsoever to Labour anywhere in the country, despite the massive display of apathy on election day from Labour’s core support. The SLP, shorn of many of the Trotskyist activists which paradoxically both gave it presence and rent it asunder, is now little more than a Stalinist sect with small followings in the faction-ridden Asian working class movement in London. Just like the BNP, it its vote was desultory for a party with national political exposure and a lowest-common denominator political appeal. Like his great political enemy David Owen, Scargill truly has the negative Midas touch: everything he touches turns to shit.

Political mind control of the type manifested in Party Political and Party Election Broadcasts is a difficult and inexact science, though when it works it can infect the minds of generations of the working class. Those who doubt this should take a look at Party Political Broadcasts: The Greatest Hits, a video collection of PPBs since their inception at the end of the Second World War. As you watch it, the carefully planted myths of a capitalist political lifetime unfold before your very eyes. Here are MacMillan, Wilson, Thatcher and Blair, bamboozling the working class with nationalist rhetoric and reformist promises as if their very life depended on it. It is in fact, a monument to political trickery and flummery throughout the ages. Perhaps, one day, Arthur Scargill and John Tyndall will find their way on to the sequel, bearing in mind, of course, that sequels are usually a pale imitation of the original.


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