The death of satire – an important appeal

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The SKWAWKBOX

As 38 Degrees and other campaign groups have highlighted, the government’s “Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill” threatens (among many other bad things) to make it practically impossible to expose government lies and misdeeds in the run-up to an election, not to mention hamstringing the main form of organised representation left to ordinary people, by inflicting yet another evisceration on unions.

If the letter of the law is applied, even satire, as a tool of highlighting the absurdity of government attitude and policy, could be prosecutable if it can be considered as attempting to influence people’s voting intentions. This move by the government will effectively make dissent illegal – and has been condemned even by Conservative blogs such as The Spectator.

But while stifling dissent by members of the public, it would be incredibly naive to think that this bill will prevent the main…

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One thought on “The death of satire – an important appeal

  1. beastrabban

    This reminds me of some of the restrictions the Japanese have regarding party political broadcasts. Under Japanese law, party political broadcasts must consist purely of the candidate in front of the camera or the microphone, explaining his policies. Nothing more elaborate is allowed. A book I read a few years ago on Japan and its culture suggested that these restrictions on the style and content of party political broadcasts were one of the reasons Japan has been governed by the Right-wing Liberal Democratic Party for its whole post-war history.

    Gerrymandering also seems to be a recurrent Tory tactic to enable them to win elections. Mike told me a few years ago about how they wished to change the boundaries in his part of Wales to break up a strongly Labour constituency. I can remember way back when Thatcher was goose-stepping across the nation the way she also tried to reform the electoral boundaries to favour the Tories.

    It also occurs to me that it shows how afraid Cameron and the Coalition are about Rory Bremner and the Long Johns. Bremner, Bird and Fortune based their satire very firmly on unjust and wrong political policies and legislation. They very definitely made the claim that what they said was true, or they were trying to bring out the truth behind contemporary political events and statements. One of the saving grace’s of ‘Private Eye’ is that it does contain serious political comment amid the scurrilous gossip and rather schoolboy humour about MPs and celebrities, hilarious though much of this is. Ian Hislop has stated that he deliberately tries to make sure there’s a point behind the satire so that it isn’t a vacuous attack on politics for the sake of it, which just undermines democracy and the political system without tackling real injustices. He also acknowledges that satire really doesn’t change things. He noted that no matter how hard they lampooned Thatcher as callous and heartless, she kept winning elections. Indeed, she seems to have revelled in that image. So I Cameron and co are trying to pass legislation limiting the press’ coverage of government policies in the time leading up to an election, then it just shows both how insecure they are and that they know just how unjust their administration is.

    Reply

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