Friday, October 13, 2006

Want to sleep with my wife?

The media here were exorcised yesterday over the spoof webcam set up by Birmingham MP Sion Simon on YouTube. The 'victim' was David Cameron who has set up webcameron! Last month, Simon urged Tony Blair to resign, and there he was upsetting the Conservatives as well after filming a spoof video in which he mimics David Cameron and invites voters to sleep with the Tory leader's wife. Wearing a baseball cap and T-shirt, the Birmingham Erdington MP introduces himself as "Dave". He goes on to offer to give his children away and asks, "Want to sleep with my wife? That's cool," in a minute-long parody of the webcameron blog launched last month. It is a parody of street talk, if you like, and definitely of youth culture, though I am not best placed to define that.
Sion Simon's colleagues joined Tory MPs in criticising his "satirical" attempt to inject humour into the battle against the Conservatives and it was really funny, if you listened to the whole thing rather than picking a few phrases out of context. It reminded me of Spitting Images and made me wonder where the really biting humour about our politicians has gone to. David Cameron Cameron diffused all the fuss by saying no-one took Sion Simon seriously anyway. It made me pine for the early days of comedy clubs in the UK, when Alexi Sale marched his communist credentials across the stage at The Comedy Store. The spoof too far has only drawn more attention to Cameron's efforts to reach a wider audience, and he is clever enough to recognise that rather than taking offence.
On a more serious note, despite being as far to the left of The Conservative Party as is possibly possible, I do admire this attempt to engage with those who are disengaged from the political system. A comment on his Cameron’s site asked "is this whole webcameron gimmick really supposed to win you an election?" His reply was “On its own, of course not, I'm not that stupid! But I think there's a real problem with people who say ‘I'm interested in political issues, I'm interested in understanding more about what politicians do and what they're like, but I'm turned off by the whole political process.' Webcameron is an attempt to deal with that, but it's only one of the many things we're going to do to make sure we communicate directly with people, listen to them, debate with them, and engage people in politics in a new way. Some of the stuff we're doing on Webcameron is going to be wrong and we're not going to get it right first time, we're not always going to find the right method of engaging people in the debate but hopefully we'll work it out and try and understand what people want, adapt and get it right.”.

I believe politics is vitally important and that you must use your vote, but I also think that politicians are self-serving and Tony Blair has been corrupted by power, not least by trailing in the wake of George Bush's coat tails. The current regime has become akin to watching Macbeth unfold, Cherie Blair would make the most wonderful Lady Macbeth. New Labour will leave blood on the carpet, probably Gordon’s if you believe that Tony is waiting for a suitable rival before he decamps; he is so determined to hoist that man’s petard. Tony Benn once said to me (oh and an NUJ audience) that he didn’t understand New Labour because he was a socialist; whatever happened to socialism.

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