Enough is enough

Farage poster

I thought blogging about the poster above might be a bit like shooting fish in a barrel, but a friend asked me to (honestly, that really happened), so here it is.

Any ad – and this poster qualifies as an ad – is constructed using a few universal disciplines. These are usually captured on a brief, and can be boiled down to the following main points:

  • Background
  • Who are we talking to?
  • What do we want them to do?

The brief will also contain a proposition.

Let’s imagine how that brief might have looked:

Background

Britain has traditionally been a tolerant country, with a proud history of providing refuge for  those in danger and helping disenfranchised people from far and near. Indeed some of our greatest achievements as a nation – the stories of which we can be most proud – surround the actions of people such as Sir Nicholas Winton, who saved hundreds of foreign Jewish children from the Nazis.

Our population comprises thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people who owe their safety, prosperity and, in some instances, their very existence, to our country’s generosity of spirit and instinctive ability to distinguish right from wrong. In return, those people have gone on to enrich our nation themselves, living productive and responsible lives in their adopted country.

None of this would be possible if it wasn’t for the vast majority of Britons, who, safe in the knowledge that they have been immensely lucky to have been born in one of the most enlightened and wealthy countries in the world, have been only too happy to help those less fortunate than themselves.

It’s no exaggeration to say that our national identity – both in our own eyes and the eyes of the world – is constructed on our sense of behaving in the ‘right’ way. In 1939, when Europe was in the throes of the greatest existential crisis in our history, we acted. We stared the forces of prejudice, hatred and division in the eye, and we repelled them. We couldn’t manage it alone; we needed some help along the way. But we took the lead. When a despot blamed the ‘other’ for the woes of his people, we refused to accept this demonisation based on religion or creed, and fought back. And we won.

As a result, our continent has experienced over 70 years of peace and prosperity. We helped entrench these values by helping to frame the Human Rights legislation that has formed the basis for much of the European Convention of Human Rights.

Recently, as immutable global pressures of population growth and the rapid development of populous but previously undeveloped countries has accelerated, we have faced a series of tough challenges. Violence in other areas of the globe has precipated forced movements of large numbers of refugees, many of whom have sought refuge in countries which they perceive to offer their families safety, security and the prospect of a better future. That’s human nature; which of us would not do the same?

Most Britons – those decent, honourable people mentioned above – understand that we must do our best for these people. Their displacement may be temporary but in the short term, they need help; both from us and our European neighbours. It may make life a little difficult for us all; but it’s all relative. We know that doing the right thing doesn’t always mean doing the easy thing. And that we aren’t living in a place where hospitals and schools are being bombed.

Who are we talking to?

Most Britons are like the people mentioned above.

We’re not talking to them.

We’re talking to the others. The ones (and there are many) who are dissatisfied with some aspects of their life (who isn’t, after all?) but will not be able to understand that the lack of sufficient housing, school places and hospital beds in the UK has literally nothing to do with, for example, a photograph of Syrian people queuing in Slovenia.

What do we want them to do?

We want them to vote Leave in the forthcoming referendum. There are plenty of entirely reasonable arguments for rejecting the EU and wishing to leave it, but these are far too complicated for this target audience, so let’s just appeal to the worst in them, while at the same time betraying many of the values (see above) that they would probably wish to be associated with. It’s ironic that by invoking fascist imagery we will be seeking to gain the votes from people who are the most vocal about their Britishness, which might be summarised as “gloriously anti-fascist”. But there you are.

A welcome corollary of this is that such a blatant dogwhistle to the racists, bigots, ignorant and uninformed, will inflame the majority of the nation to such an extent that they will protest. Many of these protests will come from people who, thanks to the qualities listed above, have gone on to achieve much in our society and will therefore be easy to portray as “out of touch” and “elitist”. Another way to describe them might just be “tolerant, decent Britons”, but let’s try to avoid that, eh?

Proposition

Are you a small-minded racist who hates knowledge, intelligence and other people? Nigel wants your vote.

Mandatories

As voting day approaches we will continue to appeal to the very worst in a minority of British people, and probably link all immigrants with terrorism, so please prepare the ground for that. Thanks.

 

 

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  1. Karina
    June 17, 2016 at 2:23 pm

    Love this. My one point of difference – a rather long one, I’m afraid – would be that the majority of people who want to vote ‘leave’ don’t identify as racists. They perceive themselves (wrongly, in my opinion) to be people who are interested in looking after ‘English’ people (they don’t necessarily identify as ‘British’), their heritage and looking after the institutions that have helped to make this country great, for their descendants. They are very much ‘me first’ and as such fail to acknowledge that the actions of people like Sir Nicholas Winton make this country greater than any institution can. If we fail to see the bigger picture, then we will become very small fry in the very near future. The majority of English ‘heroes’ saw the world as a community that we need to be part of, not isolate ourselves from. The wonderful thing about Europe is that they are our closest neighbours and allies (for now) and if we offend them as leaving the EU invariably would, then they have every reason to treat us like the outcasts that we make of ourselves. We need to stay in the EU to continue the reciprocal relationship that we have to take care of each other, and extend that hand of friendship to our close neighbours in the Middle East and Africa. After all, they are our brothers and sisters too.

  2. neilchappell
    June 17, 2016 at 3:15 pm

    I completely agree that most people who will vote Leave don’t identify as racists: most aren’t racists. As I say in the article, there are many valid reasons for wanting to leave the EU, just as there are persuasive arguments for staying in. My point, that I hoped supporters of both sides will agree with, is that this particular piece of communication is blatantly targeting the ignorant, racist minority. The official Leave campaign has disowned this ad, as they should. It’s horrible.

    • Ashfordno9
      June 17, 2016 at 4:21 pm

      A brilliant piece. Each time I see the Kindertransport Memorial outside Liverpool Street station it makes me proud to be British and thankful I had the good fortune to be born in a rich, tolerant and safe country. This advert (sic.) makes me feel embarrassed and ashamed.

  3. Trevor Heath
    June 21, 2016 at 5:11 pm

    Nigel and his cronies are adopting Julius Caesar’s theory: “Men willingly believe what they wish to be true.” For too many people, that is still the case, unfortunately.

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