From the Archive: Make Tea Not War
‘Make Tea Not War’ was the headline of a placard created by Naresh Ramchandani’s previous agency Karmarama to arm protesters in London’s anti-war march of 2003. Naresh’s agency wanted to create something that expressed how they felt about Blair’s determination to invade Iraq, so they took a cut-out of Blair in a prime ministerial suit, put a kalashnikov in his hands, a tea cup on his head, added four naive words and printed a thousand placards.
The placard became one of the images of the march, was on the front cover of the Sunday Times the next day, in the Economist the following week and become part of a V&A exhibition about propaganda later in the year.
Its success was due to the fact that, by luck or judgement, it captured a rising public feeling about Blair: that he was more autocratic than democratic, that he was happier to listen to himself than his cabinet or electorate, and that this was hubris in action.
‘Make Tea Not War’ failed. Blair took the UK to war, flew too close to the sun and has looked strangely orange since. His government reduced rather than improved social mobility, so perhaps it’s fitting that a phrase created for Blair returns in a piece by Grayson Perry that explores one of his most difficult legacies.
Look carefully at Perry’s tapestry series currently at the Victoria Miro. In the middle of the fourth tapestry, The Annunciation of the Virgin Deal, amid the big-business-meets-small-household social mobility satire, is a tea towel embroidered with the words ‘Make Tea Not War.’