Friday, May 29, 2009

euro elections 2: green party

Many years ago I sent a film off to be developed. I was repulsed and baffled by what came back. They were my photos, yes, but the wallet design was a big photo of a little girl with her face covered in ice cream. They might as well have used a picture of really gross surgery or a camel chewing slug-covered digestive biscuits.

It struck me then that, given this was a mass-production item from a large company, it must be me that's abnormal not them. Other people don't just find this image tolerable, they find it adorable. Their hearts go all soft at a picture of wasted food and poor hygiene, as long as it's done by children. Me, I have the same reaction as I would do to anyone else behaving like that.

I get told by parents that we must understand that children are just little people, yet when I voice any feelings based on that - such as having the same level of irritation with screeching that I would have if a big person did it - I get treated as if I've said I want their children to die.

But maybe it is just me, and everyone else thinks children are intrinsically better than adults. Why else all the fuss about Madeleine McCann when every week in the Big Issue you can read about an array of missing people?

As the venerable Harry Hutton said

That’s what life is like, my friends. You’re born, and everyone is pleased to see you. Then 52 years later no one is pleased to see you.

Or in the more assertive words of Bill Hicks

What does that mean? They reach a certain age and they're off your fucking love-list? Fuck your children, and if that's the way you think then fuck you too. You either love all people of all ages or you shut the fuck up.

But anyway, like I said, I get the very strong impression that there's a lot of people who don't think like me and Hicks. A great mass of people engage in child exaltation. Amongst that number are the entire team that put together the Green party leaflet for the European elections, and everyone they imagine might want to vote Green.

Green Party leaflet showing children with a 'Vote For Us' banner

This is even worse than the BNP leaflet. Not since Syprian Pitkin have I seen such a fucking awful election flyer.

Now I understand that slogans by their nature cannot do complexity. They are there to be more emotional than rational. But fucking hell, who devised the irredeemable pit of vacuousness that comprises the Green party's slogans?

Reaer of Green Party leaflet

'Green politicians work hard for their communities' is something that every party says on every election leaflet.

'They are your voice in Europe'
. Not if you're not in agreement with their policies they're not. This is basically restating the 'your community' thing with a twist. And this use of it is even more empty than the BNP's 'we say what you think'. With the BNP it taps into the mindset that feels you're not allowed to be English these days and schools are banning Christmas celebrations and it's all political correctness gone mad. The Greens don't tap into that or anything else here.

But worst of all on this leaflet are those two middle slogans. 'They care about the future' and 'they take the long view'. When you've got four short sentences to make four short points, you should make sure that two of them aren't the fucking same.

Furthermore, when you add these two synonymous slogans to:

- the dreadful cover asking you to vote for kids
- the cutesy kid inside
- the promise to 'focus on building a sound economy for our children's future'
- opening the candidate's personal message with 'as a father and teacher I worry about the future'
- and closing it with, 'our Green New Deal offers a new future for our children'

and remember that all of it comes in the space of under 300 words, there is one resounding message, probably written by Helen Lovejoy. The Greens are all about the long term.

In a time of recession, people's priorities shift. People aren't going to make themselves insecure today on the promise of the possibility of a better time for other people in some far off days.

This is not just about appealing to those like me who don't prostrate ourselves at the altar of child worship. Indeed, it's precisely those in the role as family breadwinners who'd be put off by such an approach. Like I said the other week, if you feel like the choice is between not providing for your family versus a few polar bears karking it, the guys in fur don't stand a chance. By the same token, people will choose family security today over being a tiny part of probably building a better society tomorrow.

Whilst it is not only laudable but essential we take decisions based on long-term thinking, when you've got ideas as good as the Greens for the short term, those things should surely be front and centre.

Their free insulation means lower energy bills for everyone and jobs for a lot of people. A crash programme of renewable power generation means a lot of jobs and a reduction in reliance on imported gas, so less volatility in fuel prices. Very few of us vote without taking our wallets into account at least partially. So sing this stuff from the rooftops.

Elsewhere their publicity material has been more balanced, they've done a tremendous amount of grassroots work, and they're the only serious party not awash with sleaze or based on xenophobia. This has got to count for a lot.

We can only hope that their beating the BNP isn't dependent on voters who've only seen their godawful leaflet.

That, or it's dependent on voters who've seen the only piece of Euro election propaganda that's even worse.

BNP billboard with the slogan 'What would Jesus do? Vote BNP'


field said...

Agree it's all pretty poor. But since you think that "marketing and advertising are all about lying by inference, by association or just plain outright" it's interesting to see you complaining about the quality of the lies...

Alice said...

You might look good covered in ice cream...

merrick said...

Field, I don't see the contradiction.

For instance, I beleive that parlaimentary politicans are all self-serving people who put their morality up for rent. Still, I think it's fair to talk about what they say, and to criticise the more extreme manifestations of what they do.

Ditto, my belief that the police are as guard dogs for the corporate neoliberal establishment, yet it's justified to pick on the more extreme elements of what they do.

I think the Sun and Mail are rags full of lies, but I find it instructive, illuminating and socailly beneficial that people spend time unpicking the tosh they print.

I think there's addifference between the marketing and andvertising industry and anything we can call marketing or advrtising.

A local band flyposting some A3s about an upcoming gig is different to Coca-Cola spending millions of dollars a year making sure we equate consuming their drink with a love of life itself.

But even at this low end, there is obvious lies. As I point out above, the Greens are not 'your voice in Europe' to the overwhelming majority of people they address the statement to.

And I'm interested in the European elections and in what the various parties think will get my vote and where they're right or wrong.

punkscience said...

I got really uptight reading the first half of this post because I think the placement of sustainability at the heart of the Green agenda is paramount and the children are clearly an attempt to make people consider developing a sustainable society so that those children can enjoy the same opportunities and experiences we have. Then you, rightly, pointed out that the Greens have some excellent policies to apply in the short term and I realised that you just missed the point. I'm not saying its not an awful leaflet I just think its fairly obvious that children holding a banner saying "vote for us" isn't a plea to vote Green but one to vote for the children in the picture. Maybe I interpret it that way because I'm a GP member and we think warm, fuzzy thoughts like that (ha!). Maybe you did genuinely miss the point or maybe its just no that obvious.

Still, the Greens should be putting out better promo material than that. And, BTW, I fucking hate most children. Bah-fucking-humbug.

merrick said...


I just think its fairly obvious that children holding a banner saying "vote for us" isn't a plea to vote Green but one to vote for the children in the picture.I think it is unambiguously both.

clearly, there's a sort of joke in them saying 'vote for us' as they're not actually standing for election, so it means vote for whoever will act in the childrens best interests.

i'm genuinely baffled by your assertion that this

isn't a plea to vote Green - who else is the leaflet implying acts in the best interests of those children?

The clue is in the way the picture has VOTE GREEN PARTY above it in really massive letters.