As my book on British political fiction comes closer to completion, I am now catching up on reading things I really should have looked at some time ago. As I prepare to finish the final chapter, on the New Labour years, ones defined by an increasing populist rejection of representative politics, I read Richard Littlejohn's one novel ...
Littlejohn was named in 2005 as one of the most influential journalists of the previous four decades, having written columns for the Sun and Daily Mail, two of Britain’s most popular daily newspapers since 1989. Both papers favoured a right-wing populist approach to politics, and Littlejohn’s columns invariably expressed, often in vituperative terms, a deep-set hostility to the Westminster elite. In 2001 he published his first novel, To Hell in a Handcart, loosely based on the real case of Tony Martin, a Norfolk farmer who shot and killed a burglar and a year earlier had been found guilty of murder.
Serialised in the Sun, Littlejohn’s novel was described by David Aaronovitch as a recruiting pamphletRead More
I have entered the last stage of writing State of Play, my book on British political fiction since the late nineteenth century. Many of the posts on this blog are offshoots of the research that has gone into it.
Producing this book has been like running a very slow a marathon but I can hear the buzz of the crowd in the stadium, even if I can't quite see the stadium.Read More
In 2010 I made Dramatising New Labour, a documentary for Radio Four's Archive on 4 strand. It got some good reviews. Really, it did. The documentary was about how New Labour has been depicted on the screen and flowed from research contributing to this book and especially this article.
This was the first time I'd ever done such a thing and as I am about to start work on another radio documentary I thought it might be interesting to reflect on the experience and write progress reports on the new project. Increasingly academic are expected to make an 'impact' in what some call (dreadRead More
If you read a particular kind of newspaper, notably the Guardian, listen to Radio 4 or follow a certain kind of journalist or politician on Twitter you’d think that all of Britain has fallen in love with Borgen, BBC4’s Danish political drama, whose second season is now being broadcast on Saturday nights.
For latecomers, the series tracks the ups and downs of Birgitte Nyborg’s centre-left coalition government as well as that of her troubled private life while also charting the on-off relationship between Nyborg’s spin-doctor Kasper Juul and journalist Katrine Fønsmark.
To certain British eyes the series is remarkable because it presents politics as consisting of difficultRead More
Journalist-turned-Labour MP Gloria de Piero has just concluded some research into why so many people these days appear to hate MPs. Having been elected in 2010 she was not yet used to the feelings of intense hostility to which many more established members of the Commons will have become immune. Her essential findings are that ordinary people feel that MPs are a 'Them' operating in a world very different to the one inhabited by 'Us'. On that basis she reportedly wants her party to reconnect with the people by, among other things, having beer and sandwich evenings and opening its doors to different kinds of candidates.
I wish Gloria the best of luck; but I wonder if she will succeed.Read More
Christmas, 2013 that is.
If you want to 'pre-order' (dread phrase: why not just 'order' it?) my forthcoming book then I certainly won't stop you and you can do it here.
Be warned though, it will take some time arriving as I am due to submit the final manuscript to Bloomsbury in January, er possibly February.
The cover is, by the way, provisional: any suggestions for alternatives??Read More
The second season of BBC2's The Hour has ended. Set around a late 1950s current affairs television programme based in Lime Grove, the series evokes the glamour of Mad Men more than the reality of working for the BBC at this time: none of the protagonists looks anything like portly Panorama presenter Richard Dimbleby.
What the series inevitably does not give its c. 1.5 million viewers is, then, an authentic insight into the period: instead it presents a picture of the 1950s observed through a bottle-thick twenty-first centuryRead More
Apparently, it does not.
For the last few years the Political Studies Association – which its website claims ‘exists to develop and promote the study of politics’ – holds an Annual Awards ceremony to which it invites what passes in the political world for the glitterati - a politeratti?
The object, I think, is to raise the profile of the Association, and so the study of politics, by getting the event reported in the media by those journalists invited along for that very purpose. This year the eventRead More