- Title: UK/BELGIUM: ROW DEVELOPS OVER ANTI-EURO AD PORTRAYING HITLER
- Date: 3rd July 2002
- Summary: (U5) LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM (JULY 3, 2002) (REUTERS) MCU: (SOUNDBITE) (English) ROGER NIGHTINGALE, ECONOMIST, SARASINS ASSET MANAGEMENT, SAYING "I think that there is an element of validity in this, because, of course, the European system, both in political terms and financial terms, is profoundly statist, it's very undemocratic, it's very much direction from the top. So, in that sense, it is somewhat fascist in the way it is implemented. But, of course, it isn't militaristic in the way that Hitler was. I think, probably, what the situation is, that people who are opposed to this sort of ad, the people who want to take Britain into Europe can't find much else to criticise in the ad and, therefore, focus on this particular aspect of it."
- Embargoed: 18th July 2002 13:00
- Location: LONDON AND BRAINTREE, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM / BRUSSELS, BELGIUM
- Country: United Kingdom
- Topics: International Relations,European Union
- Reuters ID: LVAD2X8HDARMQOZ4MCSYIIJ9K4M7
- Story Text: The launch of a British cinema advertisement against the UK joining the European Single Currency has been overshadowed by a row over its portrayal of Adolf Hitler.
A host of British showbiz stars starred in the advert led by Sir Bob Geldof, the organiser of Live Aid. But the biggest controversy surrounded comic, Rik Mayall's portrayal of Adolf Hitler. Mayall is seen in the advert dressed up as Hitler and mimicking his famous salute declaring, 'No, oh yes please' in response to the euro.
The portrayal of the Nazi dictator started a stream of protests from pro European campaigners in the United Kingdom.
"I think resorting to the lowest form of stereotyping about the Germanic people, by using imagery about the Nazis, is absolutely disgraceful and will be offensive to millions of people who know that the European Union has helped to establish peace and stability across the continent for the last fifty years." said Simon Buckby, Campaign Director for Britain in Europe.
But defenders of the advertisement, which is due to run for three months in British cinemas, said it was nothing but a 'bit of a laugh.' Labour MP Kate Hoey who appears in the advert told Reuters that 'anyone who doesn't laugh, I think should get a life.' Roger Nightingale an economist with Sarasin's Asset Management and a public anti euro speaker said that, in some ways, Hitler was a good representation for the European Union leadership.
"I think that there is an element of validity in this, because, of course, the European system, both in political terms and financial terms is profoundly statist, it's very undemocratic, it's very much direction from the top. So, in that sense, it is somewhat fascist in the way it is implemented, but of course it isn't militaristic in the way that Hitler was," he said.
The decision on whether or not Britain should join the euro has been a hot topic of debate in Britain since the currency launched. In the general election last year (2001), the losing Conservative party campaigned on a 'Save the Pound' platform. The party, led at the time by William Hague, was convincingly beaten by Tony Blair's Labour party at the polls.
Interestingly, the makers of the current advertisement did not include any Conservative politicians in the advert as they were not seen as being popular enough. Labour, on the other hand, had three members of parliament appearing.
In Brussels, the European Union condemned the use of Hitler in the advert, saying it was in bad taste and beneath contempt.
British Prime Minister, Tony Blair has said that there will be a referendum on whether Britain should join the single currency, or not. But that will only be held after the British Chancellor, Gordon Brown, has assessed five economic tests showing whether joining the currency would be in Britain's best interests, or not.
Anti-euro sentiment in Britain hit its highest level this year in June, according to the latest Barclays Capital survey.
Of those questioned, 49 per cent were against joining, only 36 per cent were in favour.
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