Tuesday 9 October 2012

Fact or Fiction? Pick your faction...

So Boris arrives at the Conservative Party Conference to a rock-star's welcome. Mobbed by the press and adoring fans, the man who 'has no ambition to stand for Prime Minister' might just be the Tory's best  bet for re-election in 2015. Who would have thought it? In X-Factor Britain nobody wants to hear bad news from the straight man, but they'll happily suck it up for the comedy-geezer.

In other news actor Damian Lewis may have incurred the wrath of some Southern rednecks for his part in the US TV hit, Homeland. Mistaking actors and their beliefs for those of their characters' is a commonplace modern occurrence. It's less common for actors to confuse their own beliefs, but Arnold Schwarzenegger must have had a bump to his head because suddenly he can remember with some clarity what he ACTUALLY said about Hitler back in 1975. Oratory, my arse.

All these stories feature a blurring of the boundaries between fact and fiction. In an age when live, on-the-spot, as-it-happens information is available as never before, the propagandists have taken advantage of the populace's lack of critical analytic skills to spread lies and paranoia via the simple expedient of overwhelming the audience with a stream-of-consciousness, non-stop ticker-tape of political white noise.

Listen to the radio, see the party conference delegates take to the stage, watch the 24-hour TV news and see how data is presented to represent any and all arguments. Labour put up the higher earners top tax rate, the coalition brought it half-way down, but what does it mean? Labour say this is the equivalent of giving millionaires a £40k cheque. The Conservatives say the Laffer curve predicts, nay demonstrates, that more tax will be paid by such people. The Libdems think it's something to do with stand-up. What YOU think, sadly, will likely not be determined by facts but by which version of the story you've already decided is true.

Politics seems a lot like the Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy version of espionage - who is working for what end? It is simply impossible that all Conservatives hate poor people, or that all Socialists want a return to nationalisation or that all LibDems are simply a bit dim. (Actually, that last one is probably a bad example - they are a bit dim.) Is it cruel or kind to want people to be self-determining? Is it progressive or crazy to believe in equal outcomes for education? Is a federal Europe a vaguely 'good thing' or an exploitative blight on the economies of all the countries it has infected?

Where people appear to be determined most of all to tell the truth as they see it and report on the facts of the matter, they are met with slander and mud-slinging and simple nay-saying. Witness Nigel Farage's frequent well-aimed verbal missiles in Brussels, yet see how The Rompuys and the Barrosos simply shrug and carry on dipping their hands in our pockets. At least the UKIP message on Europe is consistent.

But are the Conservatives or Labour (we know what the Limp Dems want) FOR Big Europe or AGAINST it? They won't tell us outright, which is interesting. Why won't they tell us? I think it's because they haven't quite worked out how to present the fiction they think we want to hear in order that we'll cast our vote in their favour, so that either of them can then then take us further into Europe, against apparent majority democratic opinion, while appearing to give us a choice in the matter.

Does that mean I believe in some Euro conspiracy to enslave us all? Would it really be all that bad if we all cosied up together in the tractor factories and sang workers' songs into the never-ending twilight? Is it really so bad that successful, productive countries will forever give up their advantages to prop up unstable, inefficient administrations? A cautious yes to all three, but that's just me...

The EU Gulag swings into action

It all comes down to what you believe... or what you want to believe. Do you vote with your head, or with your affiliations? What, indeed, would Boris do? Listen to the facts, believe the fiction... pick a faction. So, nailing my colours to the mast, as the party which naturally has my ear refuses to come off the fence, my particular faction is UKIP. Say what you like about my choice, but they are the only party who are telling me what I want to hear.

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