Election time in Britain and we are being subjected to the usual daily menu of name calling, blame shifting, outrageous promises and lame excuses, just as our friends in America were not long ago. There is an old drinking song that goes "it’s the same the whole world over / it’s the poor what gets the blame it's the rich what gets the pleasure/ is it not a crying shame?
Apparently not according to the main political parties everywhere. The all seem to be keen on private finance initiatives in public service, cutting welfare rights and giving employers more scope to exploit the lowest paid workers. This kind of campaigning appeals to the mysterious constituency of Middle. That can be Middle, America; Middle, England; or middle anywhere else. The constituency of Middle appears on no maps and is never visited by real people, only by politicians around election time.
I am glad I do not live in Middle, England and hope my friends across the water never find themselves in Middle, America because everything I read and hear tell me that Middlers live in fear. People in Middle fear everything, they fear unemployment, they fear tax rises, they fear economic depression, they fear homosexuals, liberals, loony lefties, reformers, reds under the beds, greedy capitalists who will export their jobs to low cost labour countries and egalitarian socialists who will stop their tax breaks, they fear all things that may have a detrimental affect on property prices and they fear Johnny Foreigner; but their greatest fear is the fear that dare not speak its name. They are scared to death of THE DARK SKINNED PEOPLE. The Yellow Peril, Dirty Dagos, Bogus Asylum Seekers, illegal immigrants, bearded ragheads with weapons of mass destruction, call them what you will, none of them are as white as they should be are they? (actually I must confess here to being touched with the tarbrush myself, not much but enough that when I meet people from Middle, England at election time they will always say "you're not local are you?" or "there's something not quite English about you." Well yes, just like there is something not English about The Queen or something not American about people whose forefathers were laying the nation's economic foundation in the plantations of the south when the ancestors of most Americans were revolting (if they were French) or working in the fields of Europe.
So the conservatives in Britain are not really conservatives but socially reactionary economic liberals (just as the Liberals are social democrats and the Labour Party have a tendency to mess up the economy and put millions out of work - we Brits love irony)
Well let's be honest, what is more likely to have a detrimental effect on property prices?
In the current round of electioneering the fear that dare not speak its name has been exploited in a Conservative poster campaign. Under the banner "are you thinking what we're thinking?" they ask questions like "is it time for tighter immigration controls," or "shouldn't we clamp down on asylum seekers." The real question of course is "are you afraid of THE DARK SKINNED PEOPLE. This is reinforced by other questions such as " we need more police on the streets (to protect the people of Middle, England from THE DARK SKINNED PEOPLE? ) and then strangely "how hard is it to keep a hospital clean?" Strange because the answer is "not as hard as it would be if you sent home all the Indian, Pakistani and Caribbean auxiliary carers, domestics and porters."
(OH WELL THEY CAN STAY IF THEY MUST BUT DON'T LET THEM MOVE INTO OUR STREET)
Yes, what the conservatives are thinking is pretty much what Tony Blair's Labour Party are thinking but whereas the Blairites are using the Bearded Ragheads with Weapons of Mass Destruction to promote fear, the Conservatives are relying on THE DARK SKINNED PEOPLE.
Years ago, long before Margaret Thatcher declared Britain a fun - free zone our politicians liked to lecture us on the importance of being more like our hard working, fun loving European neighbours. Those of us who made up the lunatic fringe (Mrs. Thatcher's words, not mine) pointed out that not only was the British climate against this but that Europe's more relaxed attitude to booze meant that they got bigger measures at lower prices and the bars were open longer hours.
The question was asked "if you want us to be more like Europe why not start there.?"
"Oh no," said Mrs Thatcher's Conservatives, "if people start having fun they might get used to it, we meant work harder and save more money for your old age," which did not sound very European at all. After all, once people find that life can be fun they forget to be afraid of Reds Under The Beds and all the rest.
I liked the idea of people losing their irrational fears so much that I formed my own political party, the Liberal Libations Party. Affiliating with Screaming Lord Sutch's Monster Raving Loony Party we campaigned on a "Bigger Drinks For Everyone" ticket. My campaign came very close to disaster, I almost won.
It is appropriate to tell this story because I am thinking of reviving my Liberal Libations Party with the slogan "are you drinking what we're drinking?" we could offer Better Public Services, improved education, free Middle from irrational fears and give equal opportunities to all, even THE DARK SKINNED PEOPLE., free I-pods for everyone, make carrying a clipboard in the street a capital offence and relieve third world debt, kill capitalists.
Then to give us a final push for power in the last few days we could turn up the heat with a new set of even more radical policies and another slogan.
"Give Free Condoms to Catholic Priests (well we don't want them breeding.)
"Support Guerrilla Gardening"
"Make the Hurdy Gurdy Mushroom Man President of The World….."
"ARE YOU SMOKING WHAT WE ARE SMOKING?
Copyright © 2005, Ian Thorpe.