On the 2014 European Parliament Election

A political clown car

  • This piece was written over a year ago. It may no longer accurately reflect my views now, or may be factually outdated.
  • This piece was originally written for my old site, Oh What? Oh Jeez! As such, it may not have transferred over properly and some images and links might be broken (and, to a lesser extent, my writing from years ago is about 80% run-on sentences).

Invest in clean coal power stations […] to ensure energy security/stop fuel poverty.

Cllr Chris Pain

With that ever-so-dire reflection on the state of politics in the UK, where perhaps clean-burning coal is just within our reach as long as we deport enough darkies, the flood of party propaganda in advance of the European Parliament election later in May was introduced to my letterbox. This being my first election, this continual stream has been a fascinating novelty as well as a source of nigh-endless comedy. With regards to the political standpoint from which I am so smugly smirking, my current convictions that will inevitably dissolve on contact with air are something akin to anarcho-communism, having accidentally read the entirety of Emma Goldman’s Anarchism and Other Essays under the impression that Goldman was Rosa Luxemburg and that reading it would be beneficial for a history essay I was writing on the German Revolution. As for the EU, my inclination is that more union = good, less union = bad, so it can stay. It could probably do with reforms, though. The other major issue of this election seems to be just how many of the darkies we should kick out, and in this case my own ambivalence towards the concept of borders, so kindly fostered by the borderless, internet-situated upbringing that my generation gets to enjoy, puts me at odds with any sort of anti-immigration sentiment. It’s nicely summed up by the Green Party, who state that:

[…] long-term global vision is of an international economic order where the relationship between regions is non-exploitative, each region is as self-reliant and economically self- sufficient as practicable and the quality of life (social, political, environmental, cultural and economic) is such that there is less urge to migrate.

If you hate the foreigners so much, help uplift their homes so they’ll sod off back. Otherwise you end up with a flood of illegals, which would seem to increase the negative aspects of immigrants that the anti parties are so afraid of; crime, destitution, etc. It may all sound a bit white man’s burden-y, but look at it more as a case of first-world burden.

Maybe I need an editor. Or to edit myself. No, it would only stifle my creative genius, or something. Anyway, that election. Click the images to view the full leaflets.

So first: the Tories. The incumbent party for some reason decided that I needed two pamphlets, one in stern portrait, the other fun-loving landscape. Perhaps they are trying to court voters of both orientations, whereas the other parties foolishly put all their eggs in one basket. They all have largely the same words though, so I suppose I can now say I am twice as aware of the Tories’ successes and goals than I am of the other parties’. The first thing that jumps out is that no matter how much they try to make Cameron look like a strong, determined leader, it never quite seems to work out. The curled lips of a man mid-fellate are not those of a great orator. There’s also some talk about renewed respect abroad, which sounds both a bit pathetic and isn’t strictly true. This survey suggests increasingly positive views towards Britain from overseas as a result of the 2012 Summer Olympics, the Paralympics and the Diamond Jubilee. The observant reader will notice that the former two were decided upon in 2005, under the Blair regime and were very nearly huge, costly cock-ups and the latter was the result of the inexorable passage of time applied to an old woman; I doubt the Tories can lay claim to creating either of those. On top of that, we’ve done a stellar job of pissing off just about everyone between the Channel and Eastern Europe, so it’s hard to tell where this foreign respect is coming from; the Americans? I don’t know, it’s often too hard for them to get over the godless socialism thing as I found out during a family trip to Pennsylvania.

Next, on the what we will do section, comes the Tory commitment to not secure an ever closer union, at any costs. I’m not quite sure how union became a bad thing, but there you have it. The main thread of human society, something that can be found as the backbone of just about every political ideology, from Fascism to Communism, is now to be avoided. After that, the promise of a referendum by the end of 2017 implies that the Tories will win the next general election (which, to be fair, they probably will, having redirected all criticism towards the Lib Dems and managed to make some of the numbers go up that makes people vote for you) and also, if the EU is left, gives them time to get out of office before the fire and brimstone come raining down on whoever occupies it after them. Shrewd. Flipping over (or not, depending on which one you look at), the Tories’ crack team are introduced; Cameron heads the pack, superimposed from a different photo, his vague look of unease probably due to the blinding light from the exploding nuclear warhead directly behind him. We see the rest of the A-Team, except for Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Pamphlet. What was he up to when they all agreed on the photoshoot date? I guess we’ll never know. Presumably busting ghosts or preparing the UK’s defences to the resist the European Commission panzer attack that is sure to come after EU secession. There’s also some cattiness towards Labour, the Lib Dems and UKIP, as well as a transparent attempt at pandering towards the Lincolnshire voters (unnecessary, with Lincolnshire being so solidly a Tory stronghold that, in the words of an irritated teacher, a pig would win if you put a blue ribbon on it) with their attempts to get the Lincolnshire Sausage protected. Protected foods are a whole other stupid kettle of fish, especially when the traditional recipe and ingredients of a Lincolnshire Sausage are: meat, pork ideally; sage; some more sage; sage?; sage.; and to top it off, some sage.

The Tories are a shoe-in to win in my area, which makes the relative deluge of leaflets both pointless and irritating, when I’m trying to mock portions in a flow that is different in each, and besides a point about how they’ve souped up schools that only appears on the portrait version (also bollocks; I’m just now leaving a state school system irreparably damaged compared to the one I entered seven years ago. El Reg’s fantastic takedown on the farce that is the Year of Code sums up about how well the Tories have [delivered] the best schools and skills for young people so the next generation can succeed in the global race), each says the same things. However, compared to the other pamphlets to come, it’d fairly sane, and it’s laid out attractively with a nice colour scheme and a font that looks a bit like Helvetica but isn’t and Googling is bringing up nothing. Okay job, Tories; now how about doing that with the country?

Here we see the world’s most chinless man used as a censor graphic on an Ed Miliband who had the gall to show up to a meeting with his friends with his genitals bared, presumably making some sort of point about the working class. Either that, or this is the endearingly pathetic summation of Nigel Farage; a man who wants to be in politics so desperately, he’ll Photoshop himself into a photo of politics men if it helps him pretend, but alas, Nigel is only a simpleton and doesn’t understand the perspective tricks needed to make a convincing ‘shop. It’s the political equivalent of affixing your head to a photo of a bodybuilder in order to lie about your attractiveness on an online dating website. It’s at least close. It seems as though the photo is meant to portray the three musketeers allowing open-door immigration, but considering they are all surveying a closed window, I feel some messages were mixed up somewhere along in the creative process. Turning the page reveals another side to the multifaceted Farage; on the front we saw the grinning fool persona, but here we see stern, possibly disappointed Farage. This is a Farage who has had to deal his whole life with a crippling condition that has left the top and bottom portions of his face permanently blurred. Doctors are baffled, but Farage is unfazed; he feels the clarity of his eye region makes him look determined. The doctors allow him his fantasies, for he shall soon surely die of the condition. Above the critically-ill Farage is placed a (to my mind at least) entirely agreeable quote about a United States of Europe from the EU Commissioner, the picture beside for all the world making her look like the Grinch. In his editorial, Farage laments the damage done by the EU to our patriotism; I don’t know but mine feels about as limited as it ever did. Following this, an outright lie: Only UKIP is prepared to pull out of the EU, along with the BNP, An Independence from Europe and maybe the Conservatives if someone tells them to be.

The next page has a handy guide to the acts of both reading and placing a cross in a box, demonstrating the level of faith that UKIP has in the mental faculties of its followers. There is also a wall of shame, including the sixhead-wielding Roger Helmer, speed demon and Catholic-botherer and Nigel Wickens, the man to whom all bad things are Nazis. Thankfully, though, none of these people are career politicians, except Helmer who has been for the past fifteen years but that’s fine. Don’t hire a career butcher to make your protected Lincolnshire Sausages, hire a Management Systems Auditor. Yes, I realise that’s a poor analogy, but I’m only getting started. The next page shows just how dedicated UKIP are to helping the common pleb just get on with [their] lives, expediting the democratic process by making the decision to vote for UKIP for them. There’s no small element of making me an offer I can’t refuse in the implication that to not submit is to invite unto myself a flood of UKIP leaflets that would rival anything God threw at Noah, but as long as they keep up this level of quality, I’m looking forward to more. Finally, and perhaps a minor point that only affects me (but isn’t that really what I made this website to complain at length about?), but the placement of the banner makes me want to read the page as I’M VOTING ON MAY 22ND UKIP every time.

The penultimate spread promises fingertip-situated facts; facts such as [t]he idea that 3m jobs would be risked by leaving the EU is just a big lie. You may recognise this as sounding like something written for the benefit of a small child of adult of limited mental capacity, and you’d be right. Apparently patronising talking-down is just another part of Farage’s master plan to portray himself as everyone’s friendly neighbourhood millionaire stockbroker from Kent; the kind of guy you hang out with at a pub as equals because he’s just so damned down-to-Earth. You may also recognise this as not a fact, nor is the preceding uncited comment that [o]utside the EU, our economy could grow faster, creating more jobs.,/q> It could, but it could also transition into an exclusively barter-based system by next Tuesday if I abstain from wearing hats for the next year. Also, note the tactical deployment of darker skin on the left page; Look guys, UKIP seem to clamour to say. Look guys, we found one! We found one and she said she’d be in our booklet after we told her we were a different party. If you elect us, we’ll kick her out first! Granted, she’s presumably a British citizen, but that pales before the opportunity to take a cheap shot at UKIP’s immigration policy. The next page also promises that by leaving the European Court of Human Rights, that monstrous body that has made Britain:

[…] take greater care of vulnerable prisoners, regulate the monitoring of employees’ communications, protect the anonymity of journalists’ sources, bring the age of consent for gay people in line with that for heterosexuals and force local councils to observe proper safeguards in evictions

which are all things that sound just fine to me. But, UKIP point out, by leaving it we could deport foreign criminals regardless of feline ownership! You know, unlike how they totally can now already. Also, by leaving we can finally give out life sentences! Again, utterly unlike how we totally can now already. Below this, UKIP inexplicably start firing shots at the SNP and Plaid Cymru, which seems uncalled for in a constituency about as far away as one can get from where either of those are relevant without going to Norfolk. The fact that the government is sending aid to other countries is portrayed as a negative, including the aid sent to Ukraine (no UKIP, it’s not the Ukraine), because what we totally want is instability in Eastern Europe, especially anywhere near the Balkans. That didn’t go too well last time.

The final line leads mischievously to the final page which, despite being about immigration, fails to offer up any tantalising tidbits of bullshittery. Luckily, the rest of the booklet more than makes up for it. After the sanity of the Toryganda, the UKIP offering starts off the downward spiral that continues through the BNP and An Independence from Europe leaflets. From a subjective standpoint, the purple and yellow colour scheme does nothing for me, and if you look closely enough at the woman on the penultimate spread’s left shoulder and flappy jumper bit, you can see that some chump has done a poor job of cutting her out of whatever background she came on; UKIP of all people should be acutely aware of people’s backgrounds and how to handle them. Because of this alone, UKIP are 0/10 would not vote.

Where to start? I’d thought the BNP, also known as UKIP from five years ago, were dead and buried thanks to the helmsmanship of Nick Griffin, a man so useless at his job that even his own spin doctor Mark Collett wants to murder him. Maybe he just got sick of Nick’s cooking. Having thought that they’d gone the way of the National Front before them, the leaflet came as a surprise, but if they keep this up I hope they keep up their floundering existence for a long time to come. Forgoing Winston Churchill this time, the BNP went for the old standby of the British bulldog, because what better to represent the pride and dignity of your people than a dog so faultily bred that they can smother themselves to death with their own faces and have heads too large to be birthed without a Caesarean 80% of the time. The slightly retarded-looking dog is either tearing up and EU flag or breathing European flames like some sort of bureaucratic dragon beside a brief summary of the BNP’s main positions, which are explained in depth on the reverse. Fascinating though is the red box beneath that, with its fist looking all a bit Nazi-y and the statement that the BNP are [y]our protest vote to hurt the politicians! Nothing says we have any faith at all in our party like billing yourself as the political equivalent of throwing the toys out the pram. The claim of being [o]fficially UK’s #1 political website is entirely uncited and Googling is proving fruitless, implying that this might not be the case.

Flipping the leaflet over reveals the MEP offered up for our discernment, the unfortunate placement of the hand nearby giving the impression of some sort of Thalidomide baby trapped within the confines of a leaflet, dreaming of a halcyon world outside. Following that is the BNP affirming their goal of banning the burqa (it’s not German, you don’t need to capitalise nouns guys) as it has no place in our free British democracy, the irony seemingly lost on the gang. At this point the writer’s caps lock key apparently went on the fritz which makes the part about stopping immigration read like the ramblings of an insane person. I mean, more than it did already. Below this comes a remarkably shameless use of about as Nazilike an image as one could find alongside a claim that British people want to work, despite the BNP’s own claims to contrary which paint a picture of a welfare state being systematically pillaged by scroungers and the only way to combat this being forcing those receiving benefits to work. To the right, some shots are fired at UKIP for being stealth immigrationistas and the equally old standby of a BBC conspiracy to put the BNP down, but I will forever be grateful to the BNP for giving me that fantastic image of Farage peeking in so cheekily. I’m not quite sure if it’s quite such an exposé on UKIP’s agenda if it’s being done guilelessly and by their very public leader, but the BNP are apparently stoked to be bringing this news to the people, so just let them have this one.

We finish with an emphatic YES Cathy, I want my country back! and for you to escape your papery prison and the choice to want to know more, want to help or want to help again, as well as the option to donate to this winning campaign. Perhaps Trading Standards would let you get a refund when it inevitably doesn’t. The BNP get a 10/10 from me thanks to the Farage image, may their reign be long and bounteous.

When I saw the cover page of the Lib Dem leaflet, my first thought was that this was the second plague of UKIP, foretold of previously as punishment for my hubris in not putting the lamb blood that was their booklet in my window. Closer examination revealed the Liberal Democrats to be behind it, their name hidden about as well as they could get away with in the top left. However, besides the choice to use an incredibly low-resolution image of Bill Newton Dunn being taken away by the filth after an all-night bender and a piss on a war memorial, the helpful idiot’s guide to putting a cross in a box (no less than twice, in case you forgot in the time it took you to turn the leaflet around and read the back) and the brazenly false claim that the Lib Dems are the only party standing up for Britain’s continued membership of the EU (try telling that to Labour, the Greens and maybe the Conservatives if someone tells them to be), this one is largely a bit sensible and therefore boring. It’s okay though, because there’s the best to come.

Intentionally thwarting their cynical plan to put themselves at the top of the ballot paper, I’ve left An Independence from Europe until last. Normally, when it comes to things like music, film and vidyagaems, I’m a big fan of indie works. The smaller projects that may lack the polish or the craftsmanship of the big boys but wherein more of the auteur shines through and imbues it with a charm that allows one to overlook the more problematic aspects. Chris Pain’s unique voice certainly comes through in this smaller arthouse effort, but sometimes an artist is probably better off muffled. Chris Pain, the greatest wrestler’s name that never was, delivers some form of parody leaflet to the people; all the issues with the real parties’ leaflets taken to ridiculous extremes in order to point out those weaknesses to them. At the very top, a photo so low-res that you can see the individual pixels, especially by his hair, astride an incorrect image of the Union Jack (the red diagonal St Patrick’s Cross is supposed to be offset within the white diagonal St Andrew’s Cross). Below that, a claim that UKIP are after an EU referendum, which would seem to run counter to their entire reason for being, followed by a plan to redirect funds from HS2 into the UK rail and road networks. Yes, redirect money from the planned high-speed railway and funnel it into the poor, neglected UK rail system. Next, Pain demonstrates a lack of understanding about how apostrophes are used and then plans to transfer foreign aid to UK citizens, the terribleness of which I covered in the UKIP section. At the bottom, an even grainier image of the EU flag, complete with the catchy slogan of Say No To hs2HS2 [sic].

On the flipside, two of the same anti-EU graphic as on the front, but now sharp and not made out of LEGO, and a handy hint as to where on your ballot paper you put your cross to vote correctly, just in case you couldn’t read it on the day. The list of demands is a real grab bag of gibberish. I hit the clean coal and nuclear energy one at the beginning of all this, but Pain continues, painting a picture of Britain as a nightmareish post-apocalyptic wasteland in which law and order had collapsed and people are afraid to walk the streets at night. Pop more bobbies on the beat, that’ll fix it says Pain, who repeatedly in this section shows a lack of understanding of when capital letters are and aren’t appropriate to use. Pain also promises to deport foreign criminals and illegal immigrants, or in other words maintain the status quo because what does he think we’re doing now? The referendum on capital punishment is a topic for a whole other article, but it should be fairly clear which side of the fence I fall down on. Next, Pain promises improved flood defences, forgetting that thanks to the deportation-powered clean coal and nuclear energy, we won’t have to worry about climate change and flooding any more. Almost finished, Pain promises to keep the NHS free, the suspicious airquotes around free making it seem a bit dubious. A final point about benefits tourism in which Pain goes all-out with his capitals but loses confidence at the halfway mark before regaining it for the home stretch and the pamphlet is done.

Pain’s satirical deconstruction of parties such as UKIP and the BNP is almost Voltairian in its wit, Swiftian in its savagery. It’s an easy 20/10.

I haven’t had anything from Labour or the Greens yet, but if I do I might update this article. Even so, the state of political discourse in this country is enough to make someone look just as sick of it all as Goldman above. It’s not clear quite why leaving the EU is the thing to do but Scotland leaving the UK is a disaster waiting to happen, but it feels like a case of holding ourselves to a different standard to the rest of Europe (which, to be fair, is pretty much the soul of the British national identity), but maybe if we leave the EU we’ll see in a few years a push to free ourselves from the oppressive New York bureaucrats of the UN, or perhaps for England to throw off the shackles of the fascist London bureaucrats of the UK. Never again shall we make the mistake of joining a union with an acronym of two letters, never again.

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