Monday, 12 April 2010

That Picture on the Labour Manifesto...

It conjures up the days of Flanders and Swann, before the Beeching cuts, when Britain was networked with state-owned railways and families could take a steam train into the country, find a sunlit hill, and look towards the future optimistically.

Richard North says it reminds him of railway posters of 50 years ago. It reminds me of the kind of Communist art, call it social unrealism, favoured by Joseph Stalin: bright, sunny landscapes with smiling peasants in collectively-owned rippling wheatfields; the strong arms of bronzed industrial workers; the excitement of electricity pylons.

Only, in the picture on the cover of Labour's manifesto the cosy Beatrix Potter fields are unmarked by either electricity pylons or wind turbines. There they stand: the ideal white nuclear family, without an iPhone between them: mum holding the baby, dad standing with son, gazing into what looks like a nuclear explosion of a sunrise. In the far distance the silhouette of a city on a hill. The caption is: A Future/ Fair for all.

Wait a minute...isn't this picture of an England on which the sun does not set reminiscent of the picture Winston Churchill painted in his Finest Hour speech of June 18, 1940, just before the Battle of Britain?

...If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world move forward into broad, sunlit uplands...

It's a picture of the future in the guise of the imagined past, how things used to be before Windrush docked, before Yorkshire's mill owners imported all that cheap labour from North West Pakistan, before the egregious European Union opened its borders and opened up Blair's Britain to the wondrous benefits of over-population, religious intolerance and cultural diversity.

It's a future devoid of the social anxieties of the present. In short it's a picture of Peter Pan's Never Never land, where no one grows old, needs emergency hospital treatment or the assistance of the police or social workers. A future where youngsters are not abused and killed, where families are functional, crime is low, the weather is always sunny and the trains run on time.

The subliminal message of this piece of kitsch is, of course:- if you, the voters, can withstand the blandishments of David Cameron and Nick Clegg, then we, the Labour Party and you, can look forward to a sunny future.

This must have been the sort of picture that the Ministry Health, under Enoch Powell, showed round the townships of Jamaica in the mid-1950s, when London was short of nurses and bus conductors. While I didn't expect Labour to be honest and publish a picture of a wasteland, nor did I expect them to treat the public like foreigners, although in one sense I suppose we are.

Even people unable to read can see through this picture. Just because they can't spell subliminal or discuss semiotics in their pilates class, they know when they are being sold a pup. Think of all the people who have come back from a shit holiday in Spain, having mistaken the picture on the holiday brochure for reality.

For Labour's dream to be reality Gordon Brown and his merry chairpersons would have to stop immigration, restore marriage as the only basis of family life, withdraw all planned spending on climate change schemes - wind farms, again - and abandon John Prescott's scheme to fill greenfield sites with 300,000 new homes.

The boy in that idyllic picture can grow up sure in the knowledge that he won't be called upon to get his legs blown off in some doubtful foreign war. The baby, assume it's a girl, in the interests of balance, won't grow up hiding her face under a veil.

A future, fair for all: if you can forget the Australian national anthem - Arise, Australia fair - it's almost a line from a party marching song.

A future fair for all

A future fair for all...


Anonymous said...

Except, as I recall, the name of that bland song they call the Australian National Anthem is "Advance Australia Fair."

GCooper said...

Well nailed!

Mrs Rigby said...

Linked and quoted.

Jabba the Cat said...

The folks at the Spectator have added the nuclear explosion and annotated it well.

Anonymous said...

It's interesting that the two adults are blue and red while the two children are both purple. It seems to say that if we indoctrinate our children successfully all divisive politics can be ended, forever.

Also, I get another creepy vibe from the image. That's a nuclear explosion, right?