The Sketch: Poster launch looks far from groovy

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The Independent Online

It was the overture, you might say. It was the prologue. It was the launch of the pre-launch of their election campaign. There are 16 weeks to go. Am I getting older or are elections getting longer?

It was the overture, you might say. It was the prologue. It was the launch of the pre-launch of their election campaign. There are 16 weeks to go. Am I getting older or are elections getting longer?

The 2005 campaign began at Billingsgate. The old fish market. There must be some jokes in there somewhere, you're welcome to root around for them. We were all waiting in the chilly morning for the campaign posters to be unveiled by the poster boys - 10.30 for 10.45, the invitation said (didn't you get one?). Those of us who arrived promptly stood looking at three mobile billboards standing in front of the brown river. They were covered with red tarpaulin. I was wondering why we collaborate in this rubbish. My mind works on a higher plane. But you knew that. The output gap. Non-tariff barriers for Third World exports.

Pop music from a speaker interrupted my reflections. A soundtrack! Then someone dressed as a hippy drove a minibus into the viewing area. The sides of the bus were painted in psychedelic designs. In groovy lettering we read a suggestion that mortgage holders were enjoying the lowest interest rates for 40 years. Out of the side door six young persons ("students" we were told, later) stepped out. Two were dressed as 18th-century aristocrats. Two were dressed in Sgt Peppery sort of tunics. Two were dressed (I think) as prostitutes. The music changed again. Baroque chamber music gave substance to the 18th-century aristos' claim that we'd had the longest period of economic growth in 200 years. We were warned not to vote the Tories in because then there would be a recession. Space constraints didn't allow the poster to mention the fact that a third of this 200-year growth record occurred during the Tories' last administration.

The second poster declared that mortgage rates are the lowest they've been since the 1960s (ahh! The psychedelia! Now I get it! You have to have taken very powerful mind-altering drugs to take this piffle seriously!). Mortgage rates are low because interest rates are low because inflation is low because the US dollar is dangerously weak and China is producing more goods than we can conveniently consume. This is the vast, global swine we are riding and Mr Brown hardly merits the description of being one of the kinks in its tail.

The students smiled and waved. We smiled back, bravely. It wasn't as easy as we made it look. Wasn't it all a little babyish? Having students in fancy dress making these points? Possibly, yes, but considering the points they're making, any distraction was sensible.

NB: Mr Brown was asked if he'd retract his statement about Mr Blair's contingent relationship with the truth? Er ... no, essentially, he would not.

simoncarr75@hotmail.com

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