From the ashes of disaster grow the roses of success
You know how sometimes a catchy tune gets “stuck” in your head and you find yourself thinking it or humming aloud for days at a time ? For the past couple of days I’ve been unable to stop myself thinking of a song from the film version of “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.”
Tim Ireland has done some political cartoon sequences with musical accompaniment for the website www.backingblair.com (both the website title and much of the material on the site is highly ironic). He doesn’t take prisoners. Previous examples include a mock “Don’t vote Labour” PPB using the theme music from the old TV comedy “The Goodies” as backing, which he followed with an alternative version of Labour’s “Dave the Chameleon” broadcast. His most recent comedy video, with the soundtrack of “The Roses of Success” from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, shows animated New Labour roses singing the song. (I think the mouth with which each rose sings is supposed to be Tony Blair’s mouth.) The lyrics represent a group of mad scientists who are trying to keep up their spirits with relentless optimism in the face of repeated failure, convincing themselves that each successive fiasco paves the way for eventual success.
Part of the brilliance of the original song was that, like much of the very best satire, it works both ways – the words can be taken at face value or seen as ironic. However, the images make clear that Tim Ireland is using them to lampoon the foreign policies of Tony Blair (and George W Bush).
If you are 18 or over, and like political jokes other than John Prescott, you might like to visit the “Backing Blair” website and see for yourself. Some of the material on the site is not suitable for children.
You may ask, why am I, a centre-right aspiring politician, recommending a website which attacks Tony Blair from the left ? Two reasons. The first is that whether you agree with him or not, Ireland at his best is extremely funny.
The second is that even if you support some aspects of the War on Terror – for example, I believe that the overthrow of the Taleban regime in Afghanistan was morally, legally and practically 100% justified – it is hard to dispute that US/British policy towards Iraq has included things which, to put it very mildly, should have been done better. It is essential that we learn from those mistakes.
Behind the humour, Ireland is making for me what is a very important point about how you do and don’t learn from mistakes. Abandoning everything you were trying to do is not always the best answer. Ploughing bravely on as if nothing had gone wrong is never the best answer.