We are, it seems, like monkeys. Cigarette packets are shiny and they have bright colours and so when we’re clambering around the supermarket, dancing on piles of vegetables and screeching at displays of ready-meals, this will attract us. The solution: to ban plain packaging for cigarettes. I think that they’re going to wrap them in old, brown banana skins.
But of course, being monkeys, we need to have health warnings printed on the not-so-plain-after-all packets: pictures of blackened lungs, mangled teeth, gleaming squishy gangrene, and corpses who look sad because they’ve wasted their lives smoking cigarettes. This will induce monkey panic – we’re now fleeing through the supermarket aisles, gibbering about our own mortality, with our tails between our legs.
A few years ago Broad Oak Magazine recommended that plain packaging be extended to mainstream political parties. The analogy today proceeds without a squeak. These parties are demonstrably toxic and they have fatal consequences for our civil liberties and general sense of free will. Even though fewer and fewer people are addicted to politics, we’re still sometimes drawn to particular parties by the nostalgic glamour of their packaging.
And so some people are foolishly attracted to Labour, misled by the slogan that this is a party for working people when its members and supporters consist almost wholly of the non-productive, bureaucratic rump of the middle class. Others still believe that the Tories are the party of tradition, the family and the countryside. Then there’s the Liberal Democrats, a party who are so dedicated to destroying UK parliamentary sovereignty and press freedom that they would be more accurately named the Illiberal Authoritarians. You might be similarly enticed by the trendy anti-Tory allure of the SNP, and fail to spot that in putting forward illberal policies such as plain packaging for cigarettes (in their 2007 manifesto), they’re basically a Tory think-tank.
We have to give up and standardised packaging would be a good start. There should be TV debates in which four empty chairs fight it out, in beautiful silence. The party manifestos should be blank sheets of paper or else identical lists of plain authoritarian policies. 40% of each manifesto should be covered with a health warning such as a garish photograph of people being jailed for things they wrote on Twitter. The leaders… well, the leaders look indistinguishable anyway. After all, they each believe that a hundred days before a general election, it’s somehow normal or compatible with democracy to insult the entire electorate with the fantasy that we’re monkeys who are excited by shiny colours.
And don’t give me this nonsense about, “oh we know you have free will Tychy, but what about children and young people?” Even young people aren’t this stupid!
The example of young people actually serves to further the analogy. Prior to the independence referendum, David Cameron and the SNP gave the Vote to 16-year-olds: a demographic who they now claim are so simple that they have their behaviour influenced by the dazzling colours on a tiny cardboard box.