Monday 30 September 2019

Three curiosities.

1.  Why is the government, at our expense, allowed to advertise on television and the motorways that we should "Get ready for Brexit  on 31st October,"  when parliament has passed a law, which has received the Royal Assent, that such a move will be illegal?

 I suppose they could argue that, strictly speaking the law, known as the Benn Act, says no Brexit without a deal approved by parliament.  But there is as yet no sign of such a deal, and even if one were to emerge, it  far from certain that parliament would approve it. 

The most that the government can legitimately advertise is "Get Ready for a possible Brexit on 31st October" which would puncture Johnson's chutzpah.

I wonder if anyone has complained to the Advertising Standards Authority?  Maybe I should.

2.  I am a great admired of the BBC, which is one of the few things we have left which, as an impartial news source,  is still "the best in the World and the envy of the World."  But surely their impartially is damaged by the fact that they are running Volume 3 of Charles Moore's respectful biography of Margaret Thatcher as their "Book of the Week" in the very same week that  today's Tories are holding  their conference.  This amounts to product  placement: it surely can't be a coincidence.

I haven't a record of what was "Book of the Week during the Labour conference  (I've tried to find out but the BBC website defeats me) but I'm pretty sure it wasn't John Bew's sympathetic biography of Clement Attlee.*  Nor did they run Jo Grimond's excellent autobiography** during the Liberal Democrat conference.

3.  There have been in recent weeks a surprising number of programmes about the First World War, the rise and fall of the Nazis and the Second World War.  Are we the only nation in Europe still quite obsessed by these events as we look back to our moments of greatness?

It could be argued that these programmes support we Remainers as they illustrate the horrors which the formation of the EU was designed  to avoid in the future.  It is more likely, however, that they feed the Leavers' nostalgia for a world in which so many mistakenly believe that Britain stood alone and saved the world from a terrible fate, and so could thrive alone again.

*   Called "Citizen Clem," published 2016  and well worth a read.
**  Called "Memoirs,"  published 1979 and contains in two sentences  the reason why we in  the UK have made such a mess of things since 1945:

" . . .we came out of the war being told that we had saved the world by a unique act of courage  against fearful odds.  We naturally became convinced that the world must see that we were  natural leaders of the West  entitled by our deeds of valour and skill to rest on oars as far as work was concerned and owed a debt, indeed a living, by our neighbours."  (Page 99)


  1. Yes report it to the ASA and get others to also do it.
    We might have started the war alone but we would NEVER have won it on our own. Poles in the Battle of Britain.Commonwealth troops in Africa and Free French to mention a few

    1. Russia, of course, was on Germany's side at the start of the war, and would have remained so had not Hitler double-crossed them in June 1941.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. I had the same thoughts about the Brexit advertising campaign, and in a Comment on The Guardian website suggested (somewhat cynically) that it was something the Taxpayers' Alliance should be investigating.

    1. Thanks to both Nigel and Severn Boar for your supporting comments. I have consulted both the Advertising Standards Authority and Ofcom websites. Both give oodles of information which seem to me to be designed to discourage complainants and neither, as far as I could see, provided the promised download of a form on which to complain.

      The ASA claim that they can't deal with political advisements (that's the remit of Ofcom) but at the same time say that political advertising is not permitted on TV. Thus we have Catch 22 situation. The Brexit ad is cleanly political, but we cant complain about it because political advertising is not allowed, so it can't be political.

      Perhaps someone with more time and computer skills could have a go. Yes, Severn Boar, the TPA should relish this one.

  4. and so could thrive alone again

    You don't think it could?

    Is there any Remainer argument which doesn't fundamentally boil down to, 'Britain's a bit shit really and couldn't manage alone in the modern world'?