The Eyes Have It!

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What a strange old place is today’s Britain — u2018a group of islands 20 miles off Calais, joined by a tunnel’, in the dismissive words of a leader whose realm has obviously become too parochial for his swelling majesty.

For here we see that the organ of the thinking socialist, the New Statesman, is carrying an article which has prompted the staff surrounding the Labour leader at Downing Street to rush out a denial that the First Citizen is u2018potty’!

Seeking to determine u2018whether the Tories got it right’ with that exquisitely controversial election poster of RobespiBlaire’s gleaming, demonic eyes, the magazine asked psychologists and psychiatrists to give their views.

“One view emerged strongly: there appears to be something worryingly adrift in the mind of Anthony Charles Lynton Blair, a man who doesn’t really know who or what he is,” came the result.

“More technically, he is diagnosed as a psychopath capable of reinventing himself with remarkable dexterity, like an actor."

“What most people call ‘spin’, the routine lubricant of all political gearboxes, is, in Blair’s case, eloquent self-delusion on a heroic scale. He is one of the few politicians who has never told a lie because his belief in whatever he says — about public transport, hospitals, schools, weapons of mass destruction — is total.”

Now our views on this matter should be no secret to regular readers, but aside from the Schadenfreude at seeing the Old Left disown the preening cuckoo in its nest, we ought not to gloat too much before looking in the mirror and asking ourselves whether we are not possessed (oops!) of a little psychosis of our own.

For there might be some among those calm, disinterested physicians of the mind who might argue we exhibited the symptoms ourselves if we ever believed any politician would be totally straight with us, or that Soviet-style government by Five-Year Plan could really ever deliver all those things on the list we navely put up the chimney for Santa each Yule.

Or if we forgot the critical fact that government is only, as Frdric Bastiat pithily put it, u2018the means by which everyone seeks to live at the expense of everyone else’.

Or if we re-al-ly believe that the richest, most technologically advanced nation in history could not strike a simple disc of gold (his Congressional Medal of Honour) with the correct pattern, in time for Antoine’s trip up to the Capitol!

Perish the thought, but you don’t think that could have been anything to do with the fact that every political cartoonist and satirist in Britain was positively drooling over the prospect of a photo-op to parody, with the ever faithful RobespiBlaire depicted, tongue out and ears back, getting his new dog collar and name tag from the hand of his kindly master, Dubya-Dubya-III, do you?

Intriguingly, the Independent carried a story that the Kick-Open-the-Door policy — to adapt a phrase from Teddy Roosevelt’s time — of the present US administration might be starting to hurt Corporate America, too.

“People in China and Taiwan, and even Europe, go to McDonald’s not because they love the food, but because they want to have the American experience,” noted Professor Shih-Fen Chen at Brandeis University, Massachusetts.

But what, asks the Indy, u2018if American products have started to stand for something else? Such as bullying imperialism or intolerance of the rest of the world’s problems?’

According to work carried out by New York consulting firm RoperASW, the value of America’s favourite brands abroad is showing u2018unmistakable signs of slippage’ and the Stars and Stripes may these days be about as consumer-friendly as the death threats stamped on a cigarette packet.

The report, acquired by Newsweek magazine, was based on hour-long interviews with 30,000 consumers in 30 major economies around the world and revealed that, of the top 10 global US-based firms, only one saw an increase in its u2018brand-power’ compared with a year earlier.

This result, coming in the fifth annual survey, was the first time that American companies have seen their brand-power starting to sink.

“It’s an early-warning sign,” commented Tom Miller, the managing director of RoperASW. “We’re seeing a shift in the balance of brand-power,” before observing that while the effect of the brand erosion may yet only have a marginal effect, even that could be significant in today’s cut-throat world where “losing just one percentage point of sales is increasingly a big deal.”

Moreover, when asked questions about u2018brand trust’, three US behemoths came bottom — Yahoo!, MTV and Citibank. (I guess they don’t get to see Fox News in Magny Cours or Mannheim)

The marketing gurus are taking these trends to heart, said the Indy, citing advertising agency McCann-Erickson which recently sent a memo to its US clients advising them to rethink their marketing approaches and, above all, to avoid trying to “wrap their brands” in the American flag.

The war, the agency reportedly said, risked “tarnishing the reputation of American culture and the mythic ‘American Dream’, which has long drawn consumers around the world to the United States to live, work or visit”.

Fresh from assuring American politicians on our behalf that u2018our job is to be there with you’, while they violate their own Constitution and betray the legacy of the Founding Fathers by re-ordering the world in the name of socialist imperialism, never u2018compromising the security of Israel’ as they do, perhaps the First Citizen, might take note of this groundswell of distaste.

Otherwise, as the opprobrium spreads to our enterprises, too, British businessmen, their employees and their shareholders might also start agreeing that the Fabian anti-capitalists at the New Statesmen were all too correct in their diagnosis of their Dear Leader’s mental state.

Sean Corrigan [send him mail] writes from London on the financial markets, and edits the daily Capital Letter and the Website Capital Insight. He is co-manager of the Bermuda-based Edelweiss Fund.

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