Are ‘Led By Donkeys’ making asses of themselves?

A poster for the Brexit Party with a statement by Nigel Farage: The European Parliament, in their foolishness, have voted for increased maternity pay", next to a black-and-white picture of him on a pale blue background, underneath the heading "Less maternity pay", and the slogan "They didn't write a manifesto, so we did it for them. He actually wrote it on Twitter." The poster is against an orange painted building with a sign "JKS: Floorings for your home". In front of the poster, a woman wearing a light grey jumper and blue jeans pushes a baby in a buggy across a road.
A poster for the Brexit Party with a statement by Nigel Farage: “The European Parliament, in their foolishness, have voted for increased maternity pay”.

Last week, after having a few weeks’ break, the crowd-funded anti-Brexit poster campaign “Led By Donkeys” (a reference to the alleged saying by a German general in the First World War about the British army, “lions led by donkeys”) have been putting up posters containing sayings by leading figures in the Brexit Party led by Nigel Farage which has refused to issue a manifesto before the upcoming European elections (23rd May) and whose candidate lists include former communists as well as the more traditional former Ukippers and Tories. Their aim is to present the Brexit Party as a reactionary party which intends to profit from economic decline while tearing apart public services such as the NHS. However, I think some of their quotes may be a bit obscure for a lot of people.

There is no dispute that Nigel Farage did give a speech during his “Common Sense tour” in which he advocates a move to an American-style insurance-based healthcare ‘system’, saying:

Frankly, I would feel more comfortable that my money would return value if I was able to do that through the marketplace of an insurance company (sic) than just us trustingly giving £100m a year to central government and expecting them to organise the healthcare service from cradle to grave for us.

A lot of us are well aware that in the USA, healthcare premiums for those whose workplace does not provide insurance are sky-high, they are more so for people who have pre-existing conditions, they are as selective as the NHS about which medications they will provide, that people go bankrupt as a result of medical bills and will sometimes refuse emergency treatment to avoid a five-figure hospital bill. Most of this is unheard-of to us here in the UK because we have a healthcare system that is funded out of public taxation. The thing is that a lot of people do not know a lot about American healthcare or indeed any healthcare except ours; some may be aware of people flown to the USA for treatment unavailable here and they do know that we have a thing called National Insurance which was supposed to pay for social security but in fact is spent on pensions, so the idea of insurance is not entirely foreign to people who mostly pay for car and home content insurance and the quote would not have given them the ‘chills’ LBD might have thought they did.

LBD have already withdrawn another poster, the one featuring Ann Widdecombe (the former Tory cabinet minister from the John Major era) saying “homosexual acts are wrongful”, because “just because we’re outraged at her views it doesn’t mean everyone will be, and more importantly there will be some who’ll take her words at face value”. However, their general campaign is based on the idea that everyone will agree with them that the attitudes of Farage, Widdecombe and others are outdated and ridiculous, when in fact not everyone will. In their previous ‘tweet’ campaign they were accused similarly of addressing the public as if they were addressing a group of like-minded friends rather than a general public with a diverse body of opinions. That campaign exposed the double standards of some of the major Brexiteer politicians, some of whom were on record as opposing leaving the EU as recently as 2012, but in the choice of attitudes they choose to ‘expose’ here, they are counting on a public that agrees with them when it might not always. Exposure sometimes works (as in the 1970s when the National Front were exposed as being actual Nazis rather than simply opponents of mass immigration), but only when the thing exposed is unacceptable to everyone, rather than just to many or some.

Image source: Led By Donkeys.

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