Driven by data; ridden with liberty.
On the 22nd May, British voters will head to the polling stations for the 2014 European Parliament elections. The parties have produced their party political broadcasts, aiming to secure your vote.
The British National Party (BNP) made a shocking breakthrough in the 2009 elections, gaining two MEPs. However, little has gone their way since. Their MEP Andrew Brons left the BNP and became a patron of the British Democratic Party. Recent polling by YouGov places their support at 1% across the nation.
Their broadcast begins with an actor doing an incredibly bad imitation of UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who says: “UKIP is not against immigration. We welcome immigration; we want immigration.” A children’s hymn starts in the background, with a British bulldog – later shown to be subservient to a caricature of BNP leader Nick Griffin – chasing the leaders of the four main parties. The cut-out animation is poorly made, reminding me heavily of Canadian cartoon Angela Anaconda. The cartoon cuts out, with the BNP’s national spokesperson Simon Darby saying: “That’s it; that’s all you’re allowed to see.” Mr Darby states that they are ‘censored’ because the “powers that be say we break Ofcom rules”. Ofcom regulates the content of broadcasters other than the BBC. A BBC spokesperson responded that they “advised [the BNP] on the relevant and the law, when they subsequently submitted the broadcast it was editorially compliant.”
Mr Darby says they were really censored because other parties hate the BNP’s “message of hope”. The BNP spokesperson blames the “controlled media” for “hiding” that Nick Griffin went to Damascus. Articles about Mr Griffin’s visit appeared on this non-exhaustive list of websites: the BBC, Sky News, The Guardian, Express, The Independent, Channel 4 News, The Financial Times and The Telegraph. Mr Darby claims that “a million proud Brits voted BNP”, when 943,598 people voted for his party in 2009. Dead tones cover certain statements, with a ‘censored’ sticker obscuring Mr Darby’s mouth. The broadcast then ends with a series of vox pops, and BNP leader Nick Griffin saying: “Vote with your heart. Vote BNP.”
Most of the Green Party’s election broadcast involves switching between a smiling yellow-tied politician who believes Europe is a “community of nations that can do wrong” and “a perfect brotherhood”, and a moaning pub bore that believes the EU is “hampering a British recovery and harping on about climate change”. Unquestionably, this is meant to be a caricature of Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg and UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who recently engaged in two public debates. The Europhile believes that all goods will be cheaper “thanks to secret trade deals that you don’t need to know about”, waving his hand like a Jedi Master. The Europhobe says we should leave the EU so we can “shoot grouse and frack the Great British land”. As both concordantly say “on the 22nd of May, take the right choice and vote…” they are interrupted by actress Lu Corfield, stating: “… for something else?” Ms Corfield triumphantly says: “Whilst these guys have been fighting over Europe for the last four years, the Green Party has been making it better for everyone”, highlighting caps on bank bonuses and “improving human rights for workers”.
According to Ms Corfield, the Green Party are “the only ones standing up to secret trade deals which are being written so that US corporations have the power to privatise our public services and the NHS.” This is an oblique reference to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which is so shadowy and clandestine it has its own page on the European Commission and UK government websites. The deal is likely to coagulate US and EU regulations, in places that the European Commission believes these regulations “diverge unnecessarily”. However, the TTIP does not empower corporations in the described manner. The Investor-State Dispute Settlement prevents retroactive legal changes, but “does not prevent governments from passing laws, nor does it lead to laws being repealed. At most, it can lead to compensation being paid.” The broadcast closes with a list of Green Party achievements, and Ms Corfield stating:
If you think we should making a Europe that is fairer for everyone, then vote Green: it’s for the common good.