Why politics is no joke | Al Murray | TEDxLondon



I am Al Murray um are you probably if you've seen me do stand-up in my capacities the pub landlord no all no nothing blowhard has the answer every question even though he's not been asked any of them I'm not him right now so the people at the front you have nothing to fear you're not going to get caught up as collateral in this talk okay what's your name what's your name eh Steve brilliant right so and what you do Steve really interesting okay now so about a year ago the country was reeling from a shock general election result all the polls all the experts told us that the Conservatives wouldn't win the country was also reeling from a shock election result in south panic in we all engine leads me to this moment I'm running off the general election when I'd polled a full three hundred and eighteen votes in the general election in South Manor thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you now that may not sound like many but it's eighteen more people than the Spartans have it Thermopylae when they saved civilization so good enough for me now why did I run that's pretty the question worth asking first of all why did I run well I'm obviously normally you pay people to compliment me to figure something out themselves but we're pressed for time so I'll explain that's simple there have been a lot of loose talk before the election about democracy in its effectiveness and democracy of course involves participation involves engagement it's an exemplar of participation that's what I want to talk to you about ingenuity and participation you have to participate you've got to be in it to win it in a democracy and they've been a lot of loose talk before the election about how voting delivers lousy political outcomes so you might as well not vote now the truth is that voting does deliver lousy political outcomes can't argue with that but not voting the alternative definitely will only ever deliver bad political outcomes so don't not vote the other thing is that's a comic you don't really want to piously go hey kids you should vote I don't like that sort of thing and I certainly don't like saying a kid's vote X or Y so how could I get involved what can I do to try and put this idea across or did simple run for Parliament now why South Sanok well well simple really the world media was looking watching as Nigel for hours maybe seventh attempt to get elected into the House of Commons and I thought that the attention that would be focused there would be the best way to get the jokes across because that's what we were doing I was comedian runs as joke Canada which is a pretty simple explanation but like it took some explaining to some people now now initial polling was pretty strong sadly didn't work out that way now um so what why where does ingenuity come to this well ingenuity because we're in the winner with a mothership of ingenuity the Science Museum here ingenuity is building space rockets is is making bucky balls is making bendable phones whatever the point of a's ingenuity is all those things but integers also can also be doing the same old thing but just in a new environment old wine in new bottles so rather than do what comics normally do and stand to one side of an election and fire snarky particles of it that usually just ping off what we thought we'd do is actually join in form a political party take part in the election where it's clothes and see where that got us well so honestly what we had to do is form a political party now it's really easy to do that you you go the election Electoral Commission's website you get the documents you fill it in you wait for them to approve it and it came back and we formed the free United Kingdom party with it's hilarious acronym now now obviously what we didn't want to do is actually be open to proper membership because we didn't think there were many laughs in having to do admin so here we restricted into three members also if someone was going to bring discredit to the party was going to be me rather than some member we didn't know about we hadn't done due diligence on so there were three members me as leader obviously Tris from IT he was marketing he was treasurer and Chris from marketing he was secretary right three-man team now none of us know anything about politics who don't do politics we've never been involved in it so we had to approach it fresh now this well this was ingenuity delivered to us because I here's an interesting thing working in show biz dealing with people in a media company one of the things you do when you go on tours you have to book media space you have to book poster space now the thing is in South Valley no one had booked any poster space none of the political parties had penciled any any poster space to advertise their campaign even though the general election was fixed in 2011 with a fixed term Parliament's act right unbelievable these people who want to run the country haven't thought to look in their Diaries and book poster space so as a result we got the best spot boom vote common sense vote gov for government right that's on the main road between Ramsgate Margate and everyone had to drive past the fantastic dear oh dear right so now the thing is we were very serious about doing this at least in terms of it being a satirical project we're trying to do the best we could with this as a satirical project the chocolate some other people took it actually serious serious they thought we were being serious you know you're a comedian stay out of politics what are you doing get your nose out you know nothing about politics people took it very seriously they got very angry with me and let me know via social media and Twitter in short gnarly bursts in on Facebook the endless long amazing paragraphs are in it two in the morning right I'm a traitor I'm a shill I'm a stooge i'm goldman sachs court jester right all for being a comedian running as a joke canada it's quite interesting really however they were pretty furious and some of these people would also someone that found out that my name is an owl I've shortened it from Alistair and they would present that as a piece of information like some of sort of incredible smoking guns to my true intentions these people were normally called Steve and Jeff now so but who wouldn't take a party seriously with policies like this first of all the pound will be revalued at one pound Tempe so it will now be worth 10 P more common sense that's actually quantitative easing it's the same thing too if you come to a lien it's neither an accident nor an emergency then you'll be sent to a random hospital department to be practiced on well for the doctors in the house three foreign policy Germany has been too quiet for too long just saying for immigration this is the greatest country in the world and people want to move here we need an MP to make things worse look no further topical five education instead of a postcode lottery and you improved Street raffle will determine which schools your kids get into Alex Salmond to be made first minister of Norwich so you can understand what being ignored by the rest of the country is really like Europe I pledge that the UK will leave Europe by 2025 and the edge of the solar system by 2050 the environment poorest children to be put on an island he keeps saying that's what he wants corporations of globalization blah blah blah paradigm blah blah blah blah blah dialectic blah blah blah blah blah GameChanger homes for hardworking families build some homes but without bringing on house prices how hard can it be and see that one's that's a bit sensible I don't know how they got through defense national service but only for people who don't want to do it law and order unemployment causes crime I propose to lock up the unemployed I defy you to argue with that logic and finally local issues South fanuc to be made the new capital UK Demilitarized Zone to be set up between North and South Fanning so as you can see we were deadly serious deadly serious in our intent I mean what we were doing was making a mockery democracy and we are accused exactly of that you're making a mockery of democracy how dare you well of course one of the things about democracies is one of the things we're allowed to do we're really lucky that we're able to do that people are thrown into jail in other countries for political systems right so why not fill your boots laugh at the thing yeah the alternative could be to wait right so people say we're making a mockery of it well and I don't really see how we were undermining democracy by me running for Parliament I don't see actually running for Parliament undermines running for Parliament but people would try and figure this out to me over and over again this these charges kept coming at us yeah you're making a mockery of democracy they'd say you're not taking it seriously don't vote for me then simple enough isn't it you don't have to have no Minister vote for me I don't want to you're doing if the publicity well that really isn't if you're in show business it's not really a silver bullet that one yeah I am haha look at me so don't vote for me then simple right you're doing it because you're David Cameron's cousin don't wait what now here's some proper ingenuity right there's a genealogy website out there who every year they do a press release and it's not very effective PR this because I can never remember the name of the website they do thing where they link to people in the public eye by genealogy they'd find two famous people or not even particularly famous people and they link them by their family trees and the year before last they found a link between my family and David Cameron's family they're able to do this because my great-great-great grandfather's William Makepeace Thackeray wrote Vanity Fair so there's kind of a red flag on my genealogy so they found this connection 200 years ago someone in Cameron's family married someone in my family neither of us a product of that Union right but you leave that to simmer on the message boards for long enough right and it becomes David Cameron is my first cousin right and he's put me up to doing it and the Conservative Party are paying me right because that is a more likely explanation than comedian runs as joke candidate right so we have to go campaigning now obviously in modern political campaign you try and capture people's imagination and then handcuff their imagination to a radiator now the way you do that these days it is stunts and gimmicks so we decided to do an actual literal stunt and I would take the political language current language literally and parachute into the constituency now I've done a bit of patchy because rewriting but I thought anything for the joke so we found an airfield in Kent and we made the arrangements I'd do a tandem jump and we invited some press and the one condition I remember the phone call as it happened was that I had to weigh less than 90 kilos so I got on the scales don't worry in my kids scales lovely pink heart-shaped scales don't worry I'm less than 90 kilos I get to the aerodrome presser there we do the health and safety briefing I get on the scales I'm overweight we have to cancel the jump right thank God right and ingenuity has to kick in then we had to reinvent ourselves as spin doctors we had to spin this calamity a whole plan falling apart and turn it into something new in actual fact I think we did better out of having to re adapt the thing and think of such Oaks to go with it also I was working with the PR man who's spent most of his professional career lying about comedians ages so he was really good at this stuff and so we came up with this it seems like too heavy to jump yet another tragic victim of this country's obesity epidemic and that for me is politics standing in a field admitting to the media that I'm obese and a health and safety hazard right now of course satire is an interesting thing right satire often gets outflanked by reality here is our manifesto back of a packet manifesto that we did make more stuff sell it for profit point one point to build new houses for people who make stuff to live in three teach more stuff in school for something about nurses people like nurses five free dogs for all truly truly radical that one we're going to pay for that with a cat taxi 18 now here's the thing right that looked pretty funny to us but the problem we doing satire is you get outflanked by reality pretty regularly in America I think the whole satire industry has been completely outflanked by this election quite a worrying way actually no one saw it coming and here it is right I think we put this up two days later we were out Frank by app flanked by reality by the Labour Party with well the Eddystone remember the ED stone yeah where the area where the Labour Party proved that their pledges were definitely carved in stone by definitely carving them in stone right now those pledges aren't that far off mine are they make more stuff sell it for profit a strong economic foundation higher living standards for working families build new homes for people who likes thanks tough to living teach more stuff in school okay we missed that but that's the nurses anyway you get the point right we tried to go in as he nein as we could and the Labour Party beat us one of the perils of satire there we are now polling they came the good people of South in it they cast their vote Craig McKinney conservative he won I didn't lose I didn't come last ripe old my full 318 votes and here's the thing if democracy is about participation it's about engagement and what I said in my concession speech because you get to make a speech at the end say say your piece basically democracy is like sporting away it's about the taking part as much as it is about the winning it's a chance for us and we're really really lucky to have it to chance for us to shape our faith to mold our destiny and that's why I got involved maybe one day there will be free dogs for all who knows but unless we participate in something unless we engage with something we'll never ever get to express our ingenuity there we go thanks very much explicit you




Comments
  1. The thing about USA is that the joke candidate won and is now making a circus of the whole country. The epitome of taking seriously someone who's not. Well, he pretends to be, but that is the whole point, isn't it?

  2. Good humour is the first sign of intelligence, same as one has bad humour to show idiocy- Al has excellent humour.

  3. in my home constituency of Doncaster North all labour need to do is put a red rosette on a monkey and it will be voted in as mp. Which is what they have been doing for several years now

  4. The Pub Landlord is meant to be a caricature, but that really doesn't matter. Most Englishmen either covertly or overtly agree with him.

  5. For what I was learning in History lessons and life, politics is no joke, it is mostly the crime, not leading country, but rather enslaving it…. I will not listen what you have to say, majority of people does not have high IQ and you also need EQ to be albe to do wise desicion rather than using cold logical tactics. So speak as you want, sheeps will listen, I won´t.

  6. Great talk. Loved the manifesto pledge on pitching up in A&E without it being an accident or emergency. And the good fellow responded to me on Facebook on a Harry Hill moment. Top man !

  7. Your problem sir was to run as a joke candidate. A laugh for sure, but when the country is crying out for engaging, intelligent communicators to make sense of the problem, why weren't you running for real?

  8. Kinda surprised he didn't once mention the Monster Raving Loony Party. They've been an institution in British politics for years, and they are one of the 'joke-iest' political parties ever! One of their leaders was named Screaming Lord Sutch, for gods sake lol

  9. Its easy to talk ideals from the outside but once yr a politician yr sucked into the corrupt greedy seedy world of power & money

  10. That was great. Even with the anechoic chamber of an audience, I was still giggling and nodding at his points.

  11. Maybe every constiuency should have a 'nonpolitical' candidate, with a compulsory voting requirement. That way there would be an opportunity for people who feel that 'none of the above' truly represent their needs.

  12. The audio editing in this is so bad. Disappointed as I love ted talks. Just makes it so hard to listen to what they are saying.

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