A comparative perspective on lived consequence of contested sovereignty
Katharine Fortin, Bart Klem, and Marika Sosnowski
We are all Britons, and I am your king.
Woman: I didn’t
know we had a king.
and the Holy Grail (White et al., 1975 : Scene 3)
This clip from the British
comedy group MontyPython illustratively denaturalises sovereign
rule in the above encounter
about British political and labour history,6 we hope this volume demonstrates
that we cannot ignore the far left; and while some might disregard such
groups, parties and tendencies as obscure or on the fringes of the discipline,
we argue that their histories reveal wider insights into the functions of the
Labour Party, the role that social movements have played in recent history,
Waiting for the revolution
and the potential impact of far-left ideas beyond the small groups parodied
repeatedly in mediocre MontyPython-esque routines over the last thirty
loans (though he does eventually direct Yunus to the
higher-ups); like a MontyPython sketch he is having fun with
Professor Yunus, who is made a fool of even as he has played the fool in
order to expose and challenge the unfairness of the system.
The power of the fool is not so much to reveal or elicit
particular information: that is the role of the sleuth or the
investigator. It is rather to reveal
from MontyPython’s Life of Brian (1979), that
ironically asks, ‘What have the Romans ever done for us?’ with the
conclusion being that they significantly developed society. Similarly,
in the Enough Food IF video, British characters are on their way to an
anti-aid rally, determined to campaign against aid even after their
discussion on the bus about the many ‘successes’ of international aid.
(London: Atlantic Books, 2009).
In 1979 the MontyPython film Life of Brian was
treated as blasphemous by various religious groups and local authorities in the
UK and the US. It was condemned as such by Malcolm Muggeridge and Mervyn
Stockwood, the Bishop of Southwark, in a BBC televised debate.
See Paul Berman's compelling reflections on this
right, and thereby ensure that she heavily emphasised the ‘You’ at the start of the
sentence; if it was all read in the same intonation, the aural impact would have been
lost (Mount, 2009: 330).
On another occasion, after the newly formed Liberal Democrats had adopted a
soaring bird as their logo, it was suggested that Thatcher mock this in her Conservative
conference speech by citing MontyPython’s famous ‘dead parrot’ sketch; ‘This parrot has ceased to be. It has shuffled off its mortal coil … This is an ex-parrot’. Not
being familiar with the surreal comedy
rhetorical techniques evident in the speeches of other
politicians, Johnson’s injection of humour creates a distinctive, audibly appealing
effect which attracts attention and provokes a response precisely because it defies
convention. These devices are used to particular effect when advancing a partisan
perspective as evident in his assertion that ‘there has been something bizarre about
the lip-smacking savagery of the Lib Dems, with Vince Cable morphing into a mad
axeman, a transformation as incongruous as the killer rabbit in MontyPython’
( Johnson, 2009). This metaphor