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150107auschwitz1

It’s a matter of judgement, isn’t it?

The image above is the parody of the Conservative Party’s infamous ‘Road to Recovery’ poster showing the railway line leading to the World War II extermination camp at Auschwitz, as tweeted by fellow blogger Tom Pride with the words, “The new Tory campaign poster featuring a German road’s a bit controversial”.

The tweet worked on several different levels: It referenced the fact that all three claims made on the original poster were inaccurate – in effect, the Conservative Party lied to the public with its very first piece of campaign material; it also acknowledged the fact that the road in the original picture was not British, as had been claimed by George Osborne on Channel 4 News (and this blog has covered reporter Cathy Newman’s surprise on finding out this was not true), but was a road near Weimar in Germany – another Tory lie; and it also made a strong point about the future the UK might face if voters allow themselves to be persuaded into supporting the Tories, based on this lying campaign.

It is also worth drawing attention to Vox Political commenter (and The Critique Archives blogger) Martin Odoni’s reaction to the revelation about the origins of the Tory poster’s image: “I’m no believer in omens or sympathetic magic, but, after all the economic hardship of the last seven years, that is really bad symbolism. I mean, don’t we remember what economic chaos and an evil, fanatical Chancellor did to the Weimar Republic?”

This writer received several versions of the Auschwitz railway image after publishing an article on the Conservative campaign poster.

Tony Dean commented with a simple reference to this one:

150107auschwitz2

And commenter marcf28 sent the following image, with the words “Interesting choice of image – with a striking similarity to this one”.

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Neither picture has appeared on Vox Political before because this writer considered them a step too far. The comments were published and readers were free to click on the links if they so desired.

I exercised my judgement and that was my decision.

It seems that Nottingham Labour councillor Rosemary Healy has been suspended because she neglected to make a similar judgement call.

As a follower of Tom Pride on Twitter (and there’s nothing wrong with that; Tom’s articles and tweets often provide an oasis of amusement for those of us who are struggling against the harm being caused every day by the Coalition Government) it is entirely possible that she retweeted his picture automatically, in the belief that her own followers would enjoy some sharp humour.

Alas, the humour was too sharp for some, and crossed the line of good taste in their opinion.

Was Cllr Healy wrong to retweet this image? On balance, she probably was. As a councillor representing the Labour Party, it could be argued that she should not be re-transmitting messages that could be interpreted as making light of a very dark period in human history.

Could be argued. Could be interpreted. It’s a matter of judgement.

It could also be argued that the tweet, and the image, make a deadly serious point about the reality of Conservative government. Many parallels have been drawn – accurately (before anyone starts wrongly invoking Godwin’s Law) – between Conservative-led Coalition policy and the actions of the Nazis (who came to power after the failure of the German republic identified with a town called Weimar, let’s not forget).

Remember Vox Political‘s articles about chequebook euthanasia? That information has been sent to the Information Commissioner’s Office in support of the bid to have the Freedom of Information request on ESA claimant fatalities since November 2011 honoured at last; and it has been sent to the Commons Work and Pensions committee, whose investigation into the effects of withdrawing benefit from claimants began in earnest this morning (January 7).

There is a deadly serious (and the word ‘deadly’ is used advisedly) side to Tom Pride’s tweet; there usually is.

However, UKIP supporter ‘Guy Ropes’ sent this blog the following comment today: “Is it correct that a Labour councillor in the Midlands has tweeted an alteration to a Conservative poster that is so insensitive I’d be disappointed if you even tried to talk about it much less defend it. Thankfully his branch have suspended him. I’m not sure – even if they tried really, really hard – that the BNP could conceive of something so tasteless. So how about calling a truce – instead of slagging people and parties off, let’s stick to discussion of policies.”

The problem here is misinformation. The councillor is accused of creating the tweet (and gets a sex change in the process). The tweet is described as tasteless, indicating the commenter has not considered the serious points on which this article has elaborated. And there will be no truce because no hostilities have been declared. It seems Mr ‘Ropes’ has an issue with this blog’s policy of debunking false claims – such as those in his comment.

So, yes – Cllr Healy showed an error of judgement and should not have RT’d the tweet, given her position; and no – the tweet itself is not “insensitive” or “tasteless” in itself – in the judgement of this writer.

We need bloggers like Tom Pride to bring these connections to our attention.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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