Every generation, there’s an image which comes to define which political movement has captured the public imagination, and which has lost its way. This image may well sum up the tide turning away from Britain’s right-wing parties, toward a more compassionate, cooperative future.
It’s conference season. While the Liberal Democrats promised “Stronger Economy, Fairer Society”, and Labour offered “Straight Talk, Honest Politics”, UKIP is promising voters the only platform they know how: Be proud of your racism!”
As members pitched up to Doncaster Racecourse for the partys Autumn conference, they were greeted with this monstrosity.
Look at all those scary dark-skinned folk pouring into Europe!
This is a poster campaign, the deployment of which tends to sum up the modus operandi of the user.
The campaign was originally dreamed up by Saatchi & Saatchi, and helped Margaret Thatcher win her landslide in the 1979 general election.
For UKIP, the party of Alf Garnett Britain, the most terrifying image is ‘the immigrant’.
But in the background, a rag-tag coalition of alternative political parties, campaign groups and activists were picking up on the fears of ordinary people.
Church Action on Poverty ran this.
UK Uncut joined in with this.
They were picking up a theme that Westminster politics seemed to have abandoned; the biggest fears of many up and down the country. The fear that their kids are going to have it harder than they did, that their hard work is not going to be rewarded, that their jobs are becoming ever-more precarious, that the rent on their homes keeps rising every year while their wages aren’t, that they can’t afford to live in an area with a decent school, that a million people are reliant on food banks to eat, watching their parents shrivel in a substandard nursing home while the costs eat up their entire inheritance, watching their kids struggle with the decision to go to University knowing they are going to face the financial burden alone, on and on. The stress of a life lived payslip to payslip, with no room for surprises.
With so much worry, it’s difficult to dream, to build. If we’re going to create a country that leads the world in science and technology, in making and building things – then people need to be secure enough to dream. That starts with building the best schools, the best hospitals, the best homes, and the best public transport networks to move people between them. The return on that investment is not the short term reward of some private contractor’s annual profit margin, it is in the greatness of our nation, the aliveness of our people, the contribution we are able to make to each other and the world.
That’s what makes parties like the Greens, the SNP, Plaid Cymru and Corbyn’s Labour the real parties of aspiration. It’s what makes Natalie Bennett, Leanne Wood, Nicola Sturgeon and Jeremy Corbyn the political leaders of our time. It’s why the party might very well be over for David Cameron, Nigel Farage, and the rest of Britain’s right wing.
It comes down to this: working only for the financial success of one’s self or one’s class, is a dismally small dream. Working to build a country that can drive humanity forward in every way that matters, that’s a dream worthy of our collective imagination. The disenchantment of the UK public is beginning to give way to the flutter of hopeful hearts. With that kind of energy and enthusiasm, another world really is possible.
I am working with a team of extraordinary people to launch an entirely new, independent UK media outlet in Autumn this year! The Canary will bring you everything you love about Scriptonite Daily, all day, every day. We will be bringing you independent, well-researched, and fearless reporting on news, politics, current affairs, science, tech, health and wellness – seven days a week.