It would be in poor taste to evoke the spectre of Luftwaffe raids and the killing of innocent civilians during a prosaic political debate over the rights and wrong of appointing an elected mayor.
And it would be nothing short of repellent to conjure up such a gruesome episode in a city where 2,317 men, women and children died in the Blitz.
It is never a good idea trying to score political points on the back of war dead, be the victims military or civilian.
That, however, is what a tawdry bunch of self-aggrandising local politicians has done. And they’re very pleased with themselves.
In seeking to scare the Birmingham electorate into voting “No” in the referendum on a directly elected mayor, the anti-mayor campaigners have likened their fight for democratic freedom to the battle waged against Hitler.
Setting out their views against an “all powerful” mayor, the campaigners have published a nifty leaflet showing a bombed cityscape, accompanied by the slogan: “Brummies have always fought back against dictators!”
The picture shows police officers and ARP wardens at the scene of a bombing in what appears to be Barford Street, Digbeth.
A bewildered man is scratching his head and an isolated woman looks on. Men in bowler hats and trench coats are huddled together, looking at the centre of the blast. It looks like a shell has landed on a row of terrace houses, obliterating several of them.
There would have been a firestorm but the photograph seems to have been taken the following day and the flames are out. God only knows what horror lies beneath the collapsed roofs and walls.
The image appealed to members of the Birmingham Campaign Against an Elected Mayor, who, we must assume, thought it symbolised both the terror that will be wrought by an elected mayor and the plucky resolve of the antis to keep calm and carry on during the referendum on May 3.
(I am reliably informed that the campaign’s other slogan, yet to be publicly launched, borrows from the late, great Kenny Everett, and proclaims: “It’s all done in the best possible taste.”)
The anti-mayor camp, and the people therefore responsible for the offending Blitz leaflet, is led by Birmingham’s own Three Ponies of the Apocalypse – MPs John Hemming (Lib Dem Yardley) and Roger Godsiff (Lab Hall Green) and Edgbaston Tory councillor James Hutchings.
It is a cross-party alliance of corrosive mediocrity. The most famous of this celebrated trio, Hemming, is renowned for his insatiable libido and a love of fluffy kittens. The public is indebted to the other two for, well, hmm, can I get back to you on that?
Mr Godsiff is unrepentant about the “Brummies have always fought back against dictators!” leaflet and has refused to apologise. So if you lost any member of your family in the Blitz, or any other attack on British territory, you may like to remember the MP’s stance should he seek re-election.
When quizzed about a political campaigns that makes North Korea seem moderate, Godsiff reportedly said: “If some of the wannabe candidates and their associated PR advisers, consultants, media reps and lobbyists... have had their feathers ruffled by the leaflet, I’m not particularly concerned.”
Perhaps Mr Godsiff and his shameless compatriots should spare a thought for the members of the Birmingham Air Raids Remembrance Association (BARRA) who meet every September for an annual service of remembrance at St Martin’s in the Bullring.
Their feathers are so ruffled that they think it is a good idea to commemorate the Brummies who lost their lives in the Luftwaffe raids. Birmingham was the most heavily bombed city outside London during the Second World War.
In addition to the huge death toll, a further 9,000 civilians were maimed and injured. I suspect they would never have imagined that their sacrifice would be exploited for cheap political purposes.
Maybe Mr Godsiff and his cronies think time heals. It doesn’t. A couple of years ago, I interviewed Barbara Johnson. She was six years old when a bombed killed her grandparents on the night of July 27, 1942.
They were crossing Rosebery Street in Hockley to get to an air-raid shelter when their lives were snuffed out.
I recall how Barbara apologised for crying when she told me about the death of 72-year-old Harry Gregory and his wife Louisa, who was 68. She showed me a fading picture of the couple that she carried everywhere in her handbag. She looked at it every day.
I toyed with ringing Barbara to ask her what she thought of the political exploitation of the Blitz dead but I know what the loss of her grandparents still means to her and I saw no point in causing further distress.
It goes without saying, or at least it does to anyone with a shred of common sense and humanity, how perilous it is to conjure up images of bombings in our city. Pictures of devastated buildings have a particular resonance.
Twenty-one innocent people were murdered when Irish Republican terrorists detonated two bombs at the Tavern in the Town and The Mulberry Bush pubs in November 1974.
The relatives of the dead are now campaigning for an inquiry into the atrocity and have launched an online petition. Their feathers are also very much still ruffled, Mr Godsiff.
If any good comes of this sick political fiasco, let it be that respectable people from all walks of life remember the victims of wars waged on our own streets and sign the petition calling for a long overdue inquiry into the Birmingham pub bombings.
I wouldn’t expect Messrs Godsiff, Hemming or Hutching to sign up, but you can at http://bit.ly/yAHE4y