Media Lies

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

What have I done to deserve this?

I am in receipt of an email from John O'Farrell, the rigorous avoidance of whose rigorously would-be-humorous Guardian articles constitutes one of the few effective methods for keeping cheerful while reading a newspaper. In his email, John O'Farrell states that he is emailing me as "a fellow supporter" of the Labour party; but he attempts to soften the blow by telling me I don't have to buy a copy of his book.

Where John O'Farrell, or anyone else, might have got the idea that I am a Labour supporter is a mystery to me. I have, it is true, contacted both my present Labour MP and my previous one (the previous one a Blairite zombie, the present one not); but I do not recall that any of those communications conveyed, or even implied, the message "I'll support you evermore". Mostly, I expressed disapproval of the war on Iraq and of the British government's (viz. the Labour party's) policy of amassing nuclear weapons to a degree never even attempted by that new friend and playmate so recently re-clasped unto Blair's holy bosom, the errant but now cleansed lamb, Colonel Gadafi.

Clearly, I need to be more careful about where I send my emails. You never know who might be watching, or what they might do with their ill-gotten information. If I hadn't gone and stuck my stupid nose into politics then, I might not now be getting spam from John O'Farrell.

"Everyone agrees the election, whenever that may come, is going to be the closest since 1992 and it is perfectly possible that the Tories could defy the polls to win power as they did in 1970," John O'Farrell informs me. I am a little young to remember 1970, but I have the distinct impression that Edward Heath's Conservatives could have managed a pissup in a brewery without drowning one another in the vats - something that can hardly be said of Michael Howard's fag-end rabble.

Be that as it may, John O'Farrell continues: "A major factor between now and polling day is how many Labour supporters we can mobilise." I think I can follow the logic here, but John O'Farrell brings out a very special guest to enlighten me with a pithy Enlightenment epigram: "As Voltaire said; 'All that is necessary for the Tories to triumph is that Labour Party supporters do nothing.'" John O'Farrell continues, parenthetically: "(Okay, it's a very loose translation.)" It must be ever so nice to be a real writer.

John O'Farrell admits that, like him, I may not agree with everything that has happened since 1997, but nevertheless: "we cannot risk throwing away all the fantastic achievements of the past eight years. If we sit back and do nothing now, we'll be turning our backs on all the millions who've had their lives radically improved by the minimum wage or Working Families Tax Credit not to mention the millions of people in the third world who've benefited from the massive increase in overseas aid."

I wish there were some prospect of throwing away some of the achievements of the last eight years: the widening prosperity gap, the dismal Private Finance Initiative and the hundred thousand corpses littering the Middle East, to name but three. As to those millions in the third world who've benefited by having their water privatised for the profit of British companies, or who've undergone the benefit of bombing and strafing from British-made jets and helicopters - perhaps I am being unduly self-centred, but I doubt that my lack of enthusiasm for these philanthropies will harm such people overmuch.

John O'Farrell then quotes, in bold type, the title of his email: "This isn't emotional blackmail." Then, in bold type, he contradicts it: "Oh all right, it is emotional blackmail, but what the hell?" This is certainly amusing. Then John O'Farrell says how vital it is that "we" (viz. the Labour party, with myself as its faithful supporter) get our leaflets through millions of letter boxes over the next few weeks. John O'Farrell concludes with a parable. He mentions rabid Dobermans on the other side of the doors. If I think those Dobermans are scary, says John O'Farrell, I should think of Michael Howard on the other side of that front door in Downing Street. It is always reassuring to have one's intelligence respected.

"Go on, click on the link now..." John O'Farrell cajoles. He provides a different link for my friends and family to click on, should I succeed in persuading them to join me in my leafleting.