Euro elections coming up, which means political stuff is being dropped through our letterbox everyday. We’ve had the Tories (I think that ended up in the bin before I had even seen it), we’ve had Labour, we’ve had the Greens. Today we had the BNP.
There’s something inherently unpleasant and offensive about receiving BNP literature. With Tories, Labour, Green and any of the other parties there’s a chance that I might be interested. Sure, the chances of me ever voting Tory are extremely slim, but they at least are capable of arguing their points in intelligent and rational ways. I could sit down with a Tory and have a good chat. The suggestion that I might consider voting BNP, however, is a plain and simple insult.
Moving past that, though, it becomes speedily apparent that the BNP leaflet is actually incredibly funny, albeit in a tragic-comic kind of way. First there’s the whole “British People” obsession, which is as absurd and ephemeral a notion as it has ever been on an island that is historically populated by people from all over the place. “Putting British People First” exclaims the front of the leaflet. But no, not you, or you. You’re a bit too different and don’t fit into their arbitrary definition.
I’ll ignore the decidedly icky colour scheme of the flyer – red and white BNP logo with big fat blue text on gaudy yellow paper – because the material from the other parties was similarly rubbish. Bad graphic design knows no political borders.
It gets really good on the inside. Check this out:
Yes, that is genuinely a major part of the BNP leaflet, prominently and proudly displayed in the top-right of the inside. Just next to it is listed – without any particular explanation – “Trafalgar, The Somme, Dunkirk, D-Day, The Falklands.” I kid ye not. I would scan the rest of the flyer for entertainment value, but I wouldn’t want to inadvertantly give them any additional exposure.
What this WW2 reference neatly indicates is that the BNP are most certainly aiming at stupid people. We’re talking people that have not heard of the word propaganda. People that believe everything they’re told at face value, without seeking corroborating evidence or alternate viewpoints. They believed their parents no matter what they were told. They believed their religious leaders and disgruntled teachers and chip-on-the-shoulder work colleagues at every stage of life, never pausing to consider matters and form their own rational conclusions. In other words, they are pawns waiting to be played. Manipulation of such people is simple, requiring only a few casual pushes of their ‘fear’ and ‘change’ buttons.
To anybody that has even a passing understanding of history, media or advertising the image is a clear piece of manipulation. It’s ludicrous and so melodramatic in its attempts at inspiring patriotism that it is actually very funny. It’s firmly in the realm of parody. This is politics by Spinal Tap. Taking the edge of the joke a little, though, is the knowledge that lots of people will absorb it dumbly and believe the other misinformation in the leaflet.
Extremists would be hilarious and cute if it weren’t for the fact that they often have a large number of zombie followers.
What else have we got?
Well, there’s a supposed quote from some unnamed soldier, whose image may well just be a piece of stock photography for all I know.
It goes like this:
“The BNP will bring our troops home…”
Yes, fair enough, nothing wrong with that. They’re involved in things they shouldn’t be anyway.
“…and ensure that British soldiers are not abused…”
Yep, I can go with that. Nobody should be abused, soldier, British or whatever.
“…on the streets of our cities by Muslims.”
I’m sorry, what?
It’s not often that I do a double-take while reading but this prompted just such a reaction. No examples, no evidence of what Generic Soldier Man is talking about. Just the blanket statement that soldiers are ‘abused by Muslims’ in ‘our’ cities. I’m sure there have been a few isolated incidents, but the leaflet would imply it’s endemic. If you are a soldier you will be abused by a Muslim. I wouldn’t know for sure, though, because the BNP didn’t bother to include any actual facts – which, of course, is a crucial part of their marketing: for the primary enemy of the extremist is factual information.(let’s not get into the question of how often Muslims have been abused by soldiers in other cities around the world…)
One of the BNP’s key pledges is to give 10% of every MEP’s salary to a fund which encourages the celebration of St George’s Day. Good job they’re staying focused on the major issues, then.
The real, categoric truth can be found in another made-up, unattributed quote just above the signing-up form, which reads: “Because it’s not racist to oppose mass immigration and political correctness – it’s common sense!”
It’s an interesting sentence for a number of reasons. Firstly, it begins with a conjunction, which is, of course, highly irritating. Secondly, they actually appear to be incriminating themselves by bringing racism into their own leaflet. It’s a classic case of revealing a guilty conscience through protesting too much – if you’re having to specifically insist “we’re not racist”, chances are there’s a problem with your attitude, somewhere or other.
Finally, there’s the infamous “it’s common sense!”, a phrase that essentially serves the function of surrendering an argument. In much the same way that referencing Hitler brings any debate to a premature close, so does “it’s common sense!” It’s the catchphrase of people who realise they don’t have a legitimate point to argue, don’t have any genuine evidence, are severely lacking in sound logic and have no chance of actually winning. Instead they fall back on the supposedly rhetorical “it’s common sense!”, attempting to imply that anybody that continues to disagree is somehow being nonsensical.
If you hear or read the phrase “it’s common sense!”, you can be pretty damn sure it’s the exact opposite. While we’re at it, the same goes for “it’s political correctness gone mad!”
Anyway, bottom line is: get out and vote for whoever you want. But bear in mind that if you vote for the BNP you’re most probably an idiot.
Also, Charlie Brooker says it all far better than me. Obviously.