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The International Writers Magazine: Comment

You too can shine with Blairpaste
Colin Todhunter

B
uy Blairpaste now while stocks last — soon to be withdrawn from the market. Ingredients: beaming smile, the moral high ground, political naivety, and mock sincerity. You are assured to get it at a reduced price, since it is way past its sell-by date.

Blairepaste came on the market in 1997 offering to clean up the British political landscape. It was an advertising executive’s delight, with its youthful smile and apparent vibrancy. This brand of toothpaste was different from previous ones manufactured by the company. There was no talk of the ‘‘S’’ word (Socialism) and Tony represented ‘‘New’’ Labour and new values. Tony was hip, Tony was cool; Tony was the brand leader. He was tuned in and turned on to the meaningless ‘‘Cool Britannia’’ soundbite manufactured by the media at that time. Brits were told that it was cool to be British and to bask in their achievements in music, industry and youthful endeavour. Indeed, Tony’s spin-doctors did a great job in placing the Tony brand at centre stage.

But nine years later, consumers are wising up and the media are getting sick and tired. The new brand has become the old brand — grey, worn out and discredited. There was no substance to it. When it arrived we were hoodwinked into believing that the newer, brighter version of whiter-than-white Blaire was newer and brighter than any of the previous bright, new versions. Now we know there is no promised land or pot of gold at the end, just a bag of slowly rotting, yellowing teeth.

Tony’s backers said he would clean whiter than white, and Tony himself believed this. The small print on the tube proclaimed: Moral crusades included. Tony has taken Britain to war no less than five times since 1997 — an achievement unequalled by any other British PM.

Blairpaste is more often than not seen on the shinier-than-shiny moral high shelf of the ‘‘Freedom and Democracy’’ superstore, standing shoulder to shoulder with George W’s Good Ol’ Homemade Apple Pie. For all the sugar-induced cavities that George’s product brings, Tony is always at hand with gleaming smile and little-boy innocence to gloss over wrongdoings. He whitewashes clean with his catchy speeches and the ‘‘I’m just an ordinary guy like you’’ persona. He has become America’s PR man par excellence. The small print on the tube also proclaims: Naivety guaranteed.

Blairpaste was a product of its time. What people didn’t realise was that it differed little from the stale and ugly brand that went before. In fact, Tony stole Thatcher’s ingredients to carry on where she left off, leaving Britain bloated with its misguided importance on the world stage and in the grip of consumerism where the cut of clothes, brand of beer or size of car is all that matters.

The truth has been squeezed dry, and sales figures have become disappointingly low. Voting turnout figures in general elections may soon get below the 50 per cent mark. Tony’s done well. George will be proud. Political bankruptcy is imminent.

Blairpaste was a flimsy invention based on hollow morality and misguided jaunts in faraway lands. But we should have known this, as the small print also said: ‘‘Fragile: handle with care’’. It also read ‘‘Do not disturb’’ as Tony pressed ahead with his agenda regardless of that damned inconvenience known as public opinion.

But at least we may rest assured knowing that the ‘‘George and Tony Show’’ may soon be over. Let’s hope the replacement products are a little better.

© Colin Todhunter Sept 2006
Fear and Loathing in the UK
Colin Todhunter


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