In a case of classic spin doctoring, the Tories are attacking the Labour party for their anti-semitic posters depicting Michael Howard and Oliver Letwin as pigs. Another poster featured Mr Howard swinging a pocket watch on a chain and the strapline, "I can spend the same money twice." The pose has been likened to that of Jewish pickpocket Fagin from Charles Dickens' Oliver and money lender Shylock from Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice.
"The accusations amount to a huge amount of bugger all," said a source at Labour to the Guardian. "The story is a load of bollocks."
The offending "if pigs could fly" poster has been replaced with the safer 2+2=5 image.
the BBC reports that Labour's election chief Alan Milburn has defended his party's campaign posters, even though they have now replaced them on their website. Mark Lawson at the Guardian was one of the reporters that wrote about the pig poster from the start:
The image, offered on a website as a possible Labour campaign for the general election, has brought protests from some Jewish politicians and commentators who see it as an anti-semitic reference to the Tory top two, who belong to a faith and race in which pork is unclean and identification with pigs insulting. Labour has insisted that this is over-sensitivity and it can be argued that we now live in a culture in which squads of the thin-skinned are on 24-hour alert.
About the only words of sense uttered about the “Labour election posters row” came from Ned Temko, Editor of the Jewish Chronicle.
“I would like to think,” he mused, this is a “cock-up rather than a conspiracy”. He is absolutely right, and these cock-ups are caused by the slavish dependency of political parties on advertising agencies.
The claim that these posters are anti-Semitic has some credibility because Trevor Beattie, the man hired by Labour, ran the FCUK commercials and is prone to courting controversy. The truth, I suspect, is that Mr Beattie and his ilk are guilty of aspiring to be painfully trendy.
I can believe that the Michael Howard poster wasn’t intended to be Fagin, but a character from Little Britain. Picture the sort of people who work for Mr Beattie — obscenely thin, dressed in black and with names like Justin, Sebastian and Tristram. What they know about Parliament and politicians could be scribbled down on the back of one of their (invariably multi-coloured and often intriguingly shaped) business cards. I doubt they appreciated that Oliver Letwin was a Tory, never mind Jewish. If you told this lot that Oliver Twist was an emerging American rap artist they would nod, feigning prior knowledge.