Friday, 9 November 2018


Ever since I encountered the word 'politics' in my early years I have never understood what it means.  Sure I get the gist of its meaning and I can use the word in conversation and understand essentially what people seem to mean when they use the word.  But like so many things, on deeper examination it seems to transmogrify and extend insidious toxic tentacles into any crack or crevice and extend itself like a fungal infection across borders and domains until just about anything can be said to be infected with the substance that justifies calling it 'political'.

It appears that there is a lot of controversy arising over a proposed Iceland Christmas advert.

I like Iceland.  I knew an intense and creative Icelandic nun at art college and it was Iceland that spawned the incredible, the inimitable, the inspirational, the insightful, the beautiful creative genius and extraordinary singer that is Björk Guðmundsdóttir.  Iceland is also the home of Birgitta Jónsdóttir who was co-founder of the Pirate Party and highly influential in much of the Wikileaks controversy.  She contributed significantly to protecting truth and integrity in the age of mega-meta-data and created the International Modern Media Institute.  It was Iceland that jailed at least 26 high profile bankers in the wake of the 2008 financial disaster.

But that is not the Iceland which is the subject of this blog post.  The subject of this post and the surrounding controversy is the British supermarket chain which specialises in frozen food and pre-prepared meals.  Iceland Foods Limited (to use their correct title) planned to run an advert on British television in the run up to Christmas which Clearcast have allegedly banned.  I say 'allegedly' because it seems they don't 'ban' adverts but rather vet them for compliance with various rules and regulations.

Clearcast is effectively an 'independent' advisory service.  (Am I allowed to say "Independent my arse!" in this blog?  But there lies another story.)  Given they claim to be only an advisory service one has to ask one's self which channel is going to risk prosecution by running an advert which Clearcast has refused to clear?  According to a labyrinthine trail of definitions, guidelines, rules, regulations, and laws, Clearcast have determined that they have been "... unable to clear an ad for Iceland because we are concerned that it doesn’t comply with the political rules of the BCAP code."

BCAP stands for the Broadcast Code of Advertising Practice and is the defining standard used by the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) who are a 'self regulating' branch of the advertising industry in the UK.  The ASA, with which Comcast aspire to comply, is a non-statutory entity and as such, nominally, has no controlling power.  Well bugger me if this isn't beginning to sound like some non-specific sexually transmitted disease already.

Ofcom (Office of Communications) is the UK Government approved regulatory authority with responsibility to enforce the various statutory regulation and Acts of Parliament - or, in other words, to enforce the law.  A central law governing this issue of adverts and politics is the Communications Act 2003.  Specifically Part 3 Television and Radio Services ETC, Chapter 4 Regulatory provisions has a section entitled "Programme and fairness standards for television and radio" which contains a sub-section 321 entitled "Objectives for advertisements, sponsorship and product placement" in which clause 2 states: For the purposes of section 319(2)(g) an advertisement contravenes the prohibition on political advertising if it is: (a) an advertisement which is inserted by or on behalf of a body whose objects are wholly or mainly of a political nature; (b) an advertisement which is directed towards a political end; or (c) an advertisement which has a connection with an industrial dispute.

Well bugger me!

It is quite clear that, according to British Law, it would be illegal to air this particular footage as an advert on UK television.  In fact it seems to breach all three sub-clauses and, as such, is unequivocally in breach of the prohibition on political advertising in this Act of Parliament.

I would love to blame the Tories for this hideous assault on humanity but this Act was passed into law under the auspices of a certain purported war criminal going by the name of Tony Blair.  Tony Blair, lest you were not watching the show, was the latest Fascist Labour leader this country entertained.

If you see this cute little film as a reasonable way to communicate an important message about the harm being done in the pursuit of Palm Oil by psychopathic irresponsible global corporations, what can you do about it?  On one level this is too big an issue to deal with in this little blog.  We need a totally different 'political' structure and we need to pay more attention to the laws being created and the implications of those laws.  But on another level we can promote and publicise this film as much as possible, increase the controversy, complain to every department and politician, and make sure the issue goes viral.  We can support Iceland for raising the issue and for their opposition to the deforestation perpetrated by the Palm Oil industry.  Most importantly we need to change our own minds about the way we understand and respond to society.  We really need to stop complying with the corrupt social conventions which keep us all supporting the status quo.  We need to wreck havoc in the current 'political' landscape.  We must start to act as responsible individuals rather than responsible members of a corrupt and self destructive society.

There is generally too much assumption that the law is somehow good and that to be illegal is morally bad.  Laws, particularly nowadays, are being generated at an increasing rate in the corridors of power by self interested cabals of myopic and dysfunctional individuals.  The law can be wrong.  In fact much of the law is wrong.  It is irresponsible to comply with the law simply for your own convenience and comfort.  We need to break the law more often.  I'm not advocating breaking law for its own sake but rather braking immoral laws.  It is, after all, the only responsible thing to do.

No comments:

Post a Comment