Manifest-ations, part 2

I’ve spent some time today reading the manifestos of the Green Party, the UK Independence Party and Plaid Cymru. I can’t exactly say I’ve digested them for you here, since that might give you the quite wrong impression that these documents are in some way digestible; but here are my thoughts. I should add that I’m not in any way trying to influence you to vote for a particular party: I’m just trying to find out what is being suggested by those who are soliciting our votes.

The Green Party’s manifesto is entitled ‘Fair is worth fighting for’. It only makes space for one mention of the arts, under a section called “Promoting localism, efficiency and access”. They say they will “encourage local live performance in the arts by moving funding from the regional to the local level and modifying regulations so that small-scale live performance in pubs and similar venues is not stifled”. They do not mention any type of art which does not include live performance, and they don’t mention museums either. This is a disappointment, considering that the arts has so much to contribute when it comes to improving environmental awareness and practice – see the great Julie’s Bicycle as an example.

However, under their ‘Youth policy’, the Greens say they will create “2,000 Young People’s Centres (YPCs). Dedicated spaces for young people to meet and be creative. The centres would also offer access to information and specialist support for teenagers in difficulty”.

Mention-o-meter: “arts” – 1; “culture” (in the arts sense) – 0; “creative” – 1, which is arts-related.

The UK Independence Party confines the arts to a section called “Culture and Restoring Britishness”, which advocates civic nationalism but rejects “the ‘blood and soil’ ethnic nationalism of extremist parties”. It promises to “recognise the numerous threats to British identity and culture”, and “to create a single British culture em­bracing all races and religions”. It gives more details in another policy document called ‘Restoring Britishness’, which includes a number of highly specific points (see below). The introduction on its website includes the idea that “UKIP would prevent public money being used to support quangos, artistic or media projects which gratuitously insult or undermine Britain, its people or British values”.

‘Restoring Britishness’ includes some arts policies under “Educational, Art and Music Measures”. It wants school choirs and bands “to play the works of British composers such as Elgar, and songs by British song writers will also be celebrated”. It will also encourage schools to visit “British cultural treasures”, and to “develop the musical, artistic and theatrical talents of their pupils so as to foster emerging talent and re-establish Britain’s role as a cultural and artistic centre”. It supports the creation or assembly of National Collections which celebrate British achievements, and would seek to establish ‘Best of British’ exhibitions “to illustrate in an educational matter of fact (not jingoistic) way the contribution inhabitants of the British Isles have made to the world”. It makes a particular mention of support for “events like the ‘Last Night of the Proms’.

Mention-o-meter (applied only to the main manifesto): “arts” – 0; “culture” (in the arts sense) – 0; “creative” – 0.

Plaid Cymru’s Westminster manifesto is a huge disappointment. The party of the Land of Song should surely have better ideas than this. In fact it gives us no ideas at all about the arts. Also [Word Hate Alert!], it’s called ‘Think different. Think Plaid.’ Quite clearly, this ought to be ‘Think differently. Think Plaid.’ But that complaint is for another time.

However, although there is nothing about the arts or the creative industries (how Nick Capaldi and Alun Ffred Jones must laugh, albeit hollowly!), a lot of attention is given to the Welsh language, particularly in the broadcast and print media, in a section headed ‘Our national treasure’.

Mention-o-meter: “arts” – 0; “culture” (in the arts sense) – 0; “creative” – 0.

More soon – can you hide your impatience?

Published in: on April 15, 2010 at 14:54  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Thanks again Lady Eff. Here’s a thing – maybe Wales is already so secure in its own culture – eisteddfods, choirs etc – that it forgot to think about the arts? Almost as though it’s a given? And perhaps any interest in funding the arts in Great Britain in general is simply outside its purview? Pure speculation on my part of course. As for UKIP – please, not more Elgar!

  2. No need to do the BNP Lady Effers! Just heard Nick Griffin on radio 5.
    “If you want art, you can pay for it”
    He’s also offering £50k to anyone who wants to “go home”, well I’m sure I have a French ancestor somewhere so I’m off to the Vendee.
    Is it becoz I is pink?

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