This is the first of two posts looking at Al Murray’s ‘Pub Landlord’ standing in South Thanet constituency in the 2015 General Election. This post looks at his reasons for standing; while the other (slightly longer) post looks at what effect he could have on the election itself.
I don’t buy many printed magazines on a regular basis. To be honest, I can only think of two. One is the TITAN Doctor Who comics (which, by the way, are great for winding down at the end of a long day). The other is Private Eye. I read my first copy in 2006 (yes – I had just started Secondary school) and found it brilliant. It didn’t just make fun of stupid decisions, but showed how silly they were by taking aping them in equally ridiculous situations.
It was probably my first taste of proper satire, and I still buy it every fortnight and read it cover to cover. But I’d seen satire before – just never noticed it yet. ‘Blackadder goes Fourth’, is a brilliant pastiche of the First World War and the stupidity of its generals. But it’s the final scene, almost universally accepted as being one of the finest scene ever broadcast on British TV, that brings it home. Yes, it was funny. Yes they shot pigeons and wore underpants on their heads. But in the end, regardless of what happened in the trenches, men and boys were sent over the top to their almost certain deaths. The humour wasn’t the point – it was only a tool to make it.
This brings me to what happened yesterday afternoon. UKIP’s Nigel Farage has decided to stand in Thanet South in the 2015 General Election. UKIP have a decent chance of taking the seat, though it’s far a ‘done thing’. The Tories are still ahead by about 5% in the most recent Lord Ashcroft poll and UKIP have only increased their lead by about 2/3% since last May. In 2010 the Tories had a majority of c.7,000 (17%) which would always take a lot of work to overturn. And then it got worse for Farage.
Al Murray in his ‘Pub Landlord’ persona announced that he intends to stand in South Thanet against Nigel Farage under the banner of his new political Party, the “Free the United Kingdom Party” (or ‘FUKP’). For just over 20 years, Murray has used the character to rip into the stereo-typical right win English pub owner. He is never seen without a pint (because he is a man, women drink win or a soft fruit-based drink as they are dainty things) and was ‘never confused’ about his sexuality (though his pet may be) – though he is accepting of “the gays”. He knows that Britain is the best country in the world and that Europe is the ever-present threat to it’s greatness. All these views are derived from one thing…”Good Old fashioned British Common Sense”!
This is in complete, contrast, of course to Nigel Farage and UKIP who is never seen without a pint (because he is a man, women drink win or a soft fruit-based drink as they are dainty things) and was ‘never confused’ about they’re sexuality (though his pet may be) – though they are accepting of “the gays“. He knows that Britain is the best country in the world and that Europe is the ever-present threat to it’s greatness. All these views are derived from one thing…”Good Old fashioned British Common Sense“! Get the point?
Al Murray uses humour to try and expose the UKIPpy ideas, which have existed far longer than they have been electorally successful, for what they are…odd. He used hyperbole and humour to make his point – but some people missed it. Some people thought that he actually believed what he was saying. Steven Colbert suffered from a similar problem in the USA: both are left-wing comedians using a right-wing persona to expose silliness in those ideas, but some people believe that there is no boundary between the two. And now, in what is potentially the epitome of this idea, the mocker and the mocked will be playing off against each other face-to-face.