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.
There’s been a bit of a kerfuffle over Armando Iannucci’s acceptance of an OBE. Alastair Campbell has accused Iannucci of hypocrisy because, despite his situation comedy The Thick of It mocking the Establishment, he has happily received an honour from the same source.
As I have spent some time analysing The Thick of It, for my forthcoming study of politics and fiction, I thought I'd make a contribution to this debate for Ballots and Bullets.
As The Iron Lady reminds us, one of the ironies of Margaret Thatcher’s period as Prime Minister is that, while the first woman to reach Number 10, even admirers on the right, notably Ronald Reagan, claimed Thatcher to be the ‘best man in England’.
To 1980s critics, however, the dissonance between Thatcher’s politics of conflict and traditional ideas about women’s nurturing role suggested something was amiss. Thatcher’s Spitting Image puppet notoriously wore trousers, smoked a cigar and stood at urinals when she relieved herself – and her voice was supplied by Steve Nallon who was amongst her most regularly employed impersonators.
To the chagrin of many on the left The Iron Lady presented audiences with a sympathetic picture of Margaret Thatcher. Rather than dwelling on contentious topics like the Falklands war or the miners’ strike the film instead focused on the person of Thatcher, as an ageing figure, one who was trying to come to terms with her husband’s death. It also highlighted Thatcher’s position as a woman in Conservative party politics, stressing her isolation and even explained some of her harshness to colleagues through that vulnerable position.
In this post for the History Workshop Journal blog, I look at other cultural representations of different kinds of Tory women, ones written just after Thatcher left office.
I have read and watched some rum stuff during the course of researching my still-forthcoming book on politics and fiction. But Maurice Edelman's historical novel Disraeli Rising (1975) - a follow-up to his Disraeli in Love (1973) - takes the biscuit.
Edelman was a Labour MP who had a lucrative sideline in political fiction. He was probably the leading exponent of the genre during the 1950s and 1960s: his novels were invariably published in Penguin paperback and were usually adapted for television. Edelman's fiction didn't aspire to the self-importance of C.P Snow - critics looked on his work as ‘journeyman fictioneering’ that worked within
I am currently working on a book for Bloomsbury on the depiction of politics on fiction, from Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Husband to the present day. The research has been intriguing to say the least and has caused me to consider an eclectic bunch of works, including, in this case, The Professionals and Who Dares Wins - about as far from Wilde as one could possibly go.
In July 1984 Margaret Thatcher told a gathering of the Conservative 1922 Committee: ‘We had to fight the enemy without in the Falklands. We always have to be aware of the enemy within, which is much more difficult to fight and more dangerous to liberty.’
At the time her government was facing down a national miners’ strike, one Thatcher claimed to believe
The leaders of Britain’s three main political parties currently support a campaign to rename Big Ben the ‘Elizabeth Tower’. This group includes the Labour leader, a man once dubbed ‘Red Ed’, who is quoted in the Sun saying that such an act would recognize Her Majesty’s ‘amazing service’. It seems appropriate to cite Pravda to illustrate the nature of said ‘service’ – which includes opening (as of 2006) a total of 15 bridges.
An example of bandwagon jumping in its most blatant form, this particular bandwagon is inspired by 2012 being Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee year and that three-quarters of the public say they’d like
During the course of researching for my forthcoming Bloomsbury Press book Representing Politics, which will look at how politics has been depicted in fiction over the last hundred years or so, I have come across many examples of the flawed, if not downright evil politician. In the world of fiction there aren't many MPs of good character - and even fewer Liberals.
Lucy Beatrice Malleson was a contemporary of Agatha Christie and was also a prolific writer of murder mysteries - although she usually worked under a number of male nom de plumes. If Malleson’s