It’s ironic that all the major political parties cite climate change and their concern for the environment as priorities, yet have seen fit to obliterate entire rainforests in their relentless marketing campaigns during the election.
I’ve lost count of the number of useless leaflets shoved through my letterbox over the past few weeks, and even election-obsessed-me thinks that the campaign has gone on just a teensy bit too long. It should have climaxed with the third leaders’ debate and then had polling day the next day. As it is, the final week seems like a shittily long epilogue, and it’s as if I’m suddenly one of those nutzoids who thinks that Return of the King had too many endings.
But back to the propaganda. Some of it is shameless. There are the obvious why-do-you-even-bothers, such as the BNP leaflet which found its way onto my doormat. Er… I live in the south of England. Optimistic then, Mr Griffin. The main problem with the BNP leaflet design was that it looked like it was produced in Year 9 Art class by someone who’d had his glasses smashed into pieces beforehand for being a racist twat, and was then dared to draw the logo lefthanded while being encouraged to use Lidl as his inspiration. The “value” range, clearly.
From the shameless to the shameful. A rather cynical gimmick in this election is to pretend that your marketing bumph is actually a handwritten letter by an ordinary person warning of the dangers of voting for other parties. An example came through today, which was apparently from a Lib Dem voter who had switched to Labour. Hmmm. The very, very microdot-esque small print at the bottom identified the “letter” as being printed on behalf of the Labour candidate. And, frankly, it was borderline criminal in the way it tried to manipulate people who didn’t take the time to investigate the letter’s origins. It even had a laser signature that looked like it came from an old person! Genius!
Sample quotes: “I don’t like the Lib Dem campaign of personal attacks on the other candidates in their leaflets again and again and again. They don’t match up to their ‘nice’ image – and looking at leaflets from Labour and the Tories, the Lib Dems are much nastier than anyone else.” “And I won’t be voting Lib Dem even though I delivered leaflets for them last year. The Lib Dems sound too good to be true – just saying ‘Winning Here’ doesn’t mean it’s true. Other things they say aren’t true, so why should that be. The last straw was Nick Clegg saying he would support a Conservative Government.”
That “letter”, having criticised personal attacks, then… er… had a leaflet enclosed that laid into the other parties for things that they’ve been denying on the record for weeks. Things like the Tories axing free eye tests for pensioners (though sneakily, the leaflet said that “their manifesto” didn’t make it clear, while other attacking points were based on things said in the TV debates, where Cameron said explicitly that free eye tests wouldn’t be abolished. It’s that whole selective reading/listening thing again) and various intentional misinterpretations of Lib Dem policies.
But it’s not just Labour. The Conservative and Lib Dem leaflets have also been quick to establish their own positive credentials before laying into the opposition. I live in a marginal seat, and I suppose that I should expect this level of saturation. But what is interesting is that not a single candidate has come to my door during the whole campaign. Instead I just get force-fed the paper mountain, which as a keen observer of how writing can manipulate and shape opinion, I have found both fascinating and depressing.
On Friday morning we will either have a new Government or a hung Parliament, but it’s a crying shame that in order to win votes, all of the main political parties are willing to spin, lie and misrepresent the opposing positions. For all the talk of new politics, the reality is depressingly familiar.