On the 27th January 2015 as I began to organise my thoughts for this piece, it was 100 days until the election. Already the bun fight has begun, cakes and pastries layered with shale gas, tuition fees, immigration and other issues. The word that seems to be repeatedly being used, issues, issues, issues. I often think it is like a schoolyard scrap, ‘My plans for the NHS are better than yours’, yada, yada, yada.
What appears to be lacking in this debate is a vital ingredient to credibility and that is authenticity. I do wish some of our politicians would take heed from the ancient poet Rumi,
If only people raised their words, instead of voice, it is rain that grows flowers not thunder.
Who to vote for at this stage is a decision of extreme difficulty. I am somewhat apathetic as I look at the parties and what they have to offer. Although I do know for certain one I am not and that is UKIP. I have no desire to be transported back to 1957.
As I drove across Yorkshire before Xmas, I was startled by the abundance of posters and paraphernalia associated with UKIP that I saw, a surreptitious malignancy that is growing. My friend drove me past rural picturesque scenes, I was immediately reminded of the scene in the magnificent film CABARET, where a young Aryan school boy in Nazi youth attire breaks out into song at a propaganda rally, Tomorrow Belongs to me.
Recently, I found myself in the jewel in the crown of Liverpool’s Bold Street, News From Nowhere. I can always guarantee finding a book that will stimulate my mind, feed my soul and challenge my way of thinking.
On this occasion, I found myself mulling over the political spectrum and how it is exceptionally difficult to see between the different policies, many of the parties seem to converge, with the deviations being unseen by the untrained naked eye. It used to be a simple battle of red versus blue, but now it is not so straightforward.
Yet people are hungry for change, for something more. I do not in any way want to start to sound like Russell Brand. I have always thought of that man as a ‘Brand’. Brand by name and Brand by nature. I still have not forgiven him for recreating the fabulous role of Arthur in the same titled film, ingeniously played by Dudley Moore, in the same way I will never forgive Nicholas Cage for remaking The Wicker Man.
So, on this charcoal grey January day, I stumbled upon a little book of wit that was published in 2010 by Mark Thomas, The People’s Manifesto. The author toured the country to find out what people really wanted out of their elected government in 2009. The book evolved from a live show and I think it is worth reading to stimulate the current political debate. Re-awaken your voting animal!
If we can just cast our minds back to 2009, the world was in the middle of an economic crisis. Banks and countries collapsed, only to then be rewarded generously for the mess of their own making. Thomas asked audiences from all over the country to voice their ideas for policies. He was working on the basis that most people often proclaim that they could run the country. The eclectic mixed bag of written forms were sifted through and then the audiences would vote on the ones that they would like to see put down into the manifesto. The result is this witty, satirical – and often surreal – call to arms.
Some of the policies are exceptionally practical. I particularly liked the proposal to cure the world from the rise of body dysmorphic disorder:
MODELS SHOULD BE CHOSEN AT RANDOM FROM THE ELECTORAL ROLL. THIS OF COURSE WOULD RESULT IN A MORE REALISITIC PORTRAY OF REALITY IN ADVERTISEMENTS.
I was pleased to see that one law has actually been executed, IT SHOULD BE LEGAL FOR GAY COUPLES TO GET MARRIED. After all homosexual couples should suffer the same as married heterosexual couples, it is only just!
As mentioned, some of the laws declared are downright surreal: I do not own a dog and although doggy poop or doggy caramel as I often call it, (to try to detract from the harsh reality of canine roughage) on pavements does anger me, I feel this particular point is somewhat sadistic.
PEOPLE WHO ALLOW THEIR DOGS TO S##T ON THE PAVEMENT WITHOUT CLEANING IT UP SHOULD BE FORCED TO WEAR IT AS A MOUSTACHE.
After seeing too, too many pictures in the newspapers of the elderly battered and bruised by muggers, perhaps this next rule is one that may act as a deterrent:
TO RANDOMLY ARM OAPs
That would cause some surprise to hapless crooks.
There is lots of press at the moment about the minimum wage and zero hours contracts, so I do think that to state THERE SHOULD BE A MAXIMUM WAGE seems fair. Certain points make perfect sense, EVERYONE SHOULD BE GIVEN THE DAY OFF ON THEIR BIRTHDAY. If you think about it even an atheist is given the day of for Jesus’ supposed birthday, one for his death and one for the David Blaine-like trick of coming back from the dead.
My particular favourites in the manifesto are those that the author quite rightly highlights,
…are they really suggesting that managing a banking crisis, a recession, mass unemployment and a massive national debt of around 200 billion doesn’t require their full attention.
And then there is another,
POLITICIANS SHOULD HAVE TO WEAR TABARDS DISPLAYING THE NAMES AND LOGOS OF THE COMPANIES WITH WHOM THEY HAVE A FINANCIAL RELATIONSHIP LIKE A RACING DRIVER.
I have had an innate disliking for the newspaper the Daily Fail for a long time so it was refreshing to discover my gut instinct was right. One of the papers original founders was an anti-Semite who visited Herr Hitler on several occasions and thought the little ball of fury was misunderstood! Lord Rothermere excused the stories of Nazi violence as exaggerated. Therefore, it seems only correct that:
THE DAILY MAIL SHOULD BE FORCED TO PRINT THE WORDS, ‘THE PAPER THAT SUPPORTED HITLER’, ON ITS MASTHEAD.
Whilst on the subject of fascists, I liked the suggestion that ANYONE FOUND GUILTY OF A HOMOPHOBIC HATE CRIME SHALL SERVE THEIR SENTENCE IN DRAG.
I think Putin would look fabulous with a Dame Edna-esque purple rinse and a Gucci dress, being forced to sing From Russia With Love.
This Manifesto is required reading and works well with a good dosage of the only newspaper worth looking at, Private Eye. I find this satirical rag is also a great way to get a handle on a political story.
Mark Thomas’ The People’s Manifesto is an antidote to the acidic political debate that we are going to see more of until Election Day.