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acronyms and activism

Eight O’clock one rainy morning outside Victoria Station, a crew of CAAT activists assembled with high hopes and higher necked woolly jumpers. Their aim, to descend on the unwitting offices of Kingsgate House, the home of UK Trade and Investment, and alert them to the rather clandestine and immoral activities now taking place within.

Considering the keenness of the hour and the biting frost, spirits ran high. In the moments to be grasped before the zero hour, we debated whether or not it was credible to combine ridiculously base pop anthems with a catchy acronym to achieve a campaign chant. In the case of Daphne and Celeste’s turgidly dire “U.G.L.Y.” the answer was deemed no. It seems however well one could substitute “U.K.T.I you ain’t got no alibi you ugly” into its insipidly feverish brogue, the price of being associated with such bilge was deemed too high. The decision was postponed, but it was decided to float the idea of a new workshop at the next national gathering entitled: “the art of incorporating acronyms into catchy campaign chants.” We did however congratulate ourselves on having higher standards and considerably more scruples than your average pop music producer.

Thus having bantered away fifteen minutes waiting for everybody to assemble, we embarked upon our task with a ferociously pacifistic intensity. Props arrived, hats were donned and postcards and flyers set to stun as we mounted our positions outside the offices of the uncivil service. The spectacle of a bunch of bowler hat clad g-men brandishing missiles and bazookas attracted a satisfying number of intrigued onlookers with whom we could impart our moral misgivings.

Indeed things moved on swimmingly. The plan to pique the interest of those who worked alongside the government’s arms dealers at UKTI, who may have little knowledge of the appalling conduct of their co-workers, seemed to pay off. Many of the staff were very approachable and scanned our campaign leaflets with a keen intensity in the lobby. There can be no doubt that our irreverent presence would replace the usually banal office gossip around the water cooler. Hopefully rather than discussing who turned up late with a hickey on their neck, they now be gabbling about who turned up early to help sign a deal with a despot.

This will include those members of staff recently transferred from DESO, who already know how effective CAAT’s campaigns are. They will now realise that the campaign is continuing to put pressure on those in the government who seek to maintain arms exports to regions of conflict and oppressive governments. Plus the many interested passers-by who will have been alerted to the vast amount of taxpayers money that continues to facilitate and endorse such an ill-advised enterprise. And all of this has been achieved before we have even managed to co-opt a catchy campaign chant. Surely once such a compelling ditty has been penned, the campaign will be unstoppable.

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