Local Election Broadcast – The Greens

Contain your excitement, it’s political broadcast season! And the first of the bunch that is even vaguely worth talking about comes from the Greens. Have a watch below, and then let’s get stuck in:

They’ve gone with a humorous parody of the political landscape to form the bulk of the broadcast, and for the most part it works. The gags are funny and the children engaging. Then, in the last minute the message suddenly shifts gear to deliver a more sober appeal for votes. This is about what we’ve come to expect from the Green Party (in fact, didn’t they already do this concept before? Or have I just seen it on Newswipe or something?). In the last general election they parodied the other parties as boyband figures. The theme of “the rest are all the same and not as clever as us” is certainly the one they’ve been hammering away at for some time now.

So, does the video work? Well it’s funny, but I’m not sure it will switch many votes. If anything it makes these figures more sympathetic. It’s easy to loathe a politician, but a child dressed up as them humanises that figure. Most of the Green Party’s support will come from the left, and yet what left-leaning person wouldn’t sympathise with the well-meaning Corbyn child in the video? I think the Greens missed a trick by not including themselves. True to do so wouldn’t have fed the false assertion at the heart of clip (that the Greens are somehow grown up unlike other parties), but self-deprecation is a lot more endearing that being lectured at. Also, I come away from the video having been reminded of all these figures who I may or may not want to support in other parties, but with no green alternative, let alone who this random figure is at the end.

This brings us to the worst aspect of the video, which is the condescending speech. You can’t have an election broadcast which consists solely of dressing children up as your opponents and making them act silly, only to claim that you’re the grown up in the equation. The hypocrisy utterly destroys the video. It is as if late in the day someone pointed out, “In making this, aren’t we being the very children we’re making our opponents out to be?” and they panicked and quickly tacked on the end to make themselves look more serious. Not to mention the rather creepy way the children are being watched on the monitors.

But still, it got me writing about it so there’s that.

Divided We Surely Fall

There are only two sides to the EU debate: those that believe that the EU is beyond saving and want out, and those that believe that the EU is worth saving and want in. For the sake of simplicity we’ll call these camps anti-EU and pro-EU. All three of the major parties in British politics are pro-EU in that they all agree that the EU needs reform, but is a good thing for Britain. Sure they bicker about individual items of legislation, and for political convenience it is in their favour to appear more or less in favour of the EU depending upon what slice of the electorate they’re canvassing, but in terms of the grand EU debate, they are all on the same side. Only Farage sits on the other.

So it seems strange that the political establishment can’t win this in a slam dunk. Surely the combined weight of the conservative party, the labour party, and the liberal democrats should be enough to explain to the electorate precisely why an imperfect EU is better than a non-existent one. The Nick Clegg v Nigel Farage debate was a perfect opportunity for the pro-Eu camp to unify, and yet the opposite happened. Today David Cameron appeared on television calling Nick Clegg an extremist, the Labour party have been distancing themselves as far as possible from the subject lest negative fallout stains their trousers, and even the Green party – a party whose objectives are solely dependent upon the EU and global cooperation – couldn’t resist the opportunity to resort to petty politics and opportunism. If our political parties cannot unite when presented with such a basic proposition, is it any wonder that demagogues like Farage triumph?

We see this time and again with the liberal left. The AV referendum was lost because rather than unite to improve an outdated electoral system, the Labour party used it as an opportunity to steal votes from the Lib Dems. I’ll say this for the conservatives, they know how to pull together for the bigger picture, the left simply cannot get past its own factional squabbling.

Take this party political broadcast by the Green party in response to the debate. The Greens have an almost identical outlook on Europe as the Lib Dems, but to gain political advantage they paint them as the very non-existent caricature dreamt up by the daily mail: a sycophantic slave to faceless EU bureaucrats. Pro-EU camps should be arguing that this stereotype doesn’t exist, that it is a paranoid fantasy, but the Greens have cynically promoted it, betraying their own cause. It is yet another sad sign of the continued decline of a once promising party.

Cooperating is a virtue in politics, but Britain is yet to break out of its juvenile mentality and realise this. If we don’t soon change, Farage, may well win by default.