Wednesday, February 14, 2007

John Cleese on extremism

Whilst I take a day off and shovel all this snow through gritted teeth, I also did a bit of surfing over at YouTube and found some gems from the other side of the pond -- those nitfy announcements from the UK called Party Election Broadcasts, or PEBs. Political advertising of the kind we know in Canada and the US is illegal over there; but all parties, including those on the fringe, are allowed to produce between one and five PEBs, depending on their standing in Parliament. (Labour and Conservative normally have five each, the Lib Dems four.)

They run between three and five minutes nowadays (they used to be ten) and outshine anything Karl Rove or James Carville could ever come up with. And so, I offer for your consideration this Party Election Broadcast (PEB) from the 1987 British elections ... starring John Cleese speaking for what was then called the Social Democratic Party / Liberal Alliance. The Alliance collapsed soon after the election that year and later re-emerged as the Liberal Democrats we know today; but Cleese's thoughts about extremism on the left as well as the right ring true twenty years later; and can be adapted for almost any democracy.

Note that towards the end Cleese makes an argument for proportional representation; something I fully support for Canadian elections. Ironically, PR could allow some real extremists into coalitions, but having the vote reflect the wishes of the people might not be such a bad thing. We don't need repeats of situations where someone won the popular vote but lost the election on seat count, which happened most recently in New Brunswick last year.

Vote for this post at Progressive Bloggers.