Crines, Andrew (2012) “All Things Indefensible, Our Leader Made Them All” The Logic, Emotion, and Credibility of British Political Satire in the 1980s. In: Rhetoric in British Politics and Society Workshop, 4th May 2012, Manchester, UK. (Unpublished)
Abstract

Satire draws upon irony, derision and wit in order to illuminate vice and ineptitude in public
figures. For political elites, this makes satire a dangerous tool of civil society, given its
capacity to challenge and undermine political efforts. This is a healthy characteristic in any
liberal democracy.
This paper provides an indicative example by showing how a single Spitting Image sketch
draws from a range of rhetorical tools to convey a broad critique over the perceived social
failures of the Thatcherite period. The sketch exposed real-world manifestations of
deprivation, placed them into comedic setting, before presenting them to the viewer. This
raises the questions: what effect in the viewer did they hope to generate, and how did they
garner appropriate credibility?
The ethos of the sketch derives from the neutral character of the messenger, from the
visual illustrations, and by tapping into a broader sense of discontent with the political
leaders at the time. The pathos was discontent with social ills, seemingly attributable to
deliberate government policy, whilst the logos aims to inform and educate the audience of
such issues.
As such, this paper will argue that satire can be utilised to communicate a specific message
using ethos, pathos, and logos, as illustrated by this sketch.

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