Brain pollution? Are you kidding me?

When you use the word ‘independence’ to a UK Liberal, you are liable to get a half-hearted reply.

This is a pity because we don’t usually mean the kind of rugged individualism they assume in the USA – the ‘I did it My Way’ approach to life.

Normally we mean something a little calmer: independence from threats – criminal, medical, governmental or economic – that can undermine so many of our lives, and our ability to live it to the fullest.

There is therefore a liberal thread running through so many entrepreneurs (people who see the world differently according to Anita Roddick) and the self-employed – even if they don’t actually vote that way. It was frustrating to see how many of them – the so-called ‘inner-directedsI ’ – voted for Margaret Thatcher back in 1979.

I wrote a whole book (Broke) arguing that it was the triumvirate who built our world – Thatcher, Howe and Lawson – who have so undermined our independence by weighing us down with debt. Even the idea of ‘downshifting’ from the 1990s seems so difficult now, because of debt-fuelled house price inflation.

That was why it was Liberals who led the way so often campaigning against pollution in the 1960s – using the Liberal definition: anything which constrains us by making us ill.

So what should we make of the campaign against #BrainPollution, launched this weekend by the Badvertising campaign (full disclosure: I also work for them)?

The idea is partly to hold the advertising industry to account for its role in the climate crisis, by campaigners who want to end the promotion of polluting fossil fuel companies and high-carbon lifestyles.

Campaigners have created a new Ministry for the Climate Emergency with a full public health warning campaign about the dangers of advertising, including a short film voiced by Dr Chris Van Tulleken, a leading British infectious diseases doctor and documentary maker who focuses on ‘commerciogenic disease’. You can watch it here.

Explaining his reasons for being involved, and on the dangers of advertising, Dr Chris said this: “The brain pollution of advertising creates not just the high-carbon lifestyles feeding the climate emergency, but also a wave of commerciogenic diseases ranging from malnutrition to depression.”

A range of uncompromising billboards will convey the key messages too, backed by a Ministry briefing on ‘What is Brain Pollution?’ The campaign is international with materials available for equivalent climate Ministries in Germany, Spain, Italy, France, the USA and Sweden.

Personally, I think this has a chance of awakening so many people’s inner Liberal…

Watch the film here!

* David Boyle is a former Lib Dem parliamentary candidate and the author of Tickbox (Little, Brown). You can buy the book from Hive or Amazon.

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This entry was posted in Films and Op-eds.


  • David Evershed 4th Oct '21 - 2:44pm

    “There is therefore a liberal thread running through so many entrepreneurs. It was frustrating to see how many of them ……….. – voted for Margaret Thatcher back in 1979.”

    And vote Conservative today, not LibDem.

    Food for thought.

  • William Wallace 5th Oct '21 - 11:59am

    Good to hear from you, David. Good luck with the campaign – and do include advertisements for sofas that we don’t want or need, which lead to the old ones being left out on the street…

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