Malcolm Tucker is the Man
Ah, it’s a shame we don’t have a political soap opera. Drama or Comedy, I don’t care; I am referring to government work; not higher up…
I think we got the right persons for the job. I can easily imagine the right honourable Abbes El Fassi being told off by his aggressive PR director… Or perhaps Mezouar, being slaughtered by his spin doctors for his rebellious deeds at the RNI.
In the opposition benches, we might get a glance at Ramid cursing and shouting to a strangely placid Belkhayat, while their respective spin-doctors are plotting in their back for some dirty press campaign.
On second thoughts, we don’t need it to be nominal –the satire show, bear with me please.
It would be legally difficult, and the politicians might not accept it. But the idea of a political satire (or even thriller) is quite nice to contemplate.
Easier said than done: we have yet to build a genuine democracy before one starts thinking about putting up a satirical show on politics. Or is it? It may be that by means of satire, politics might evolve into something more open. Just like caricatures do (or do they?). Well of course, there’s always the money problem: no producer sane enough would accept to back such political dynamite, who would finance it? let alone obedient and makhzenian TV channels… Na, it’s just an idle dream.
Would Morocco be a better democracy with that kind of TV soap opera? Your call, but it would at least be good show for the viewers.
A well-made point actually; Do we really need a democracy where politicians are depicted in a satirical way? Much as I value politics and I advocate for a respectable image, a politician is, besides being a human being, is a public figure, and it is always healthy to have a little bit of steam off by mocking the politics, as long as the caricature is proportionate, harmless and non-smearing. It is argued though, that humour in politics, under some conditions, is actually an expression of a healthy democracy. (Yeah, that’s all Morocco needs, a bunch of clowns to mock politicians that didn’t do much to earn the citizens’ respect)
My hopes are quite vain of course, as we need a far superior democracy, and good TV to put up such shows. That’s what happens when one is too into listening to BBC comedy podcasts, or watching the ‘Thick Of It’ and re-running its widescreen sequel ‘In the Loop’.
When I started to learn English seriously, I tried to immerge in the Anglo-Saxon world (just the British one really, Americans are so dull)
I actually came across political satire show a long time before, when I first bumped into ‘Yes Minister’ and ‘Yes Prime Minister’ 1980’s show.
That was the Right Honourable James ‘Jim’ Hacker MP, minister (Paul Eddington), then prime minister, trying to find his ways with the civil service, portrayed and voiced by Sir Humphrey Appleby (Nigel Hawthorne), in a humorous clash between political projects and administrative blocks.
In a more darker –or serious- tone, I could perhaps advise the ‘Houses Of Cards’ where the Chief Whip Francis Urquhart makes his way to the PM office, or the more ‘leftist’ one where left-leaning labour PM Harry Perkins in ‘a Very British Coup’, has to put into practice his manifesto in spite of civil service, army and bankers’ opposition.
These are but few shows I had the pleasure to watch and appreciate. Really, the idea of political drama or comedy should, I think, be encouraged. There’s always some drawback, like people identifying fiction with reality, and actually thinking politicians act just like their actors counterparts. That’s not the purpose of my post. I wanted to write about something else. Or should I say someone else…
The F-word is no longer a taboo in British TV shows –the discernable audience rated of them– and I think ‘The Thick of It’, and especially Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi) is just taking the edge on the sweary bit.
I am not very fond of swearing but, bloody hell -sorry- the man is a maestro: “wake up and smell the cock” people, Malcolm Tucker is here ladies and gentleman, and he is there to make sure that the ministers and their staff walk the line and speak the words He defines and writes.
I first thought Malcolm Tucker was the Chief Whip, which, presumably, would explain why other party members, especially MPs and their staff, are so frightened by his presence. But then, I understood he was holding the strategic position of senior Director of communications (and strategy I would guess) an equally impressive position under the New-Labour government. The spin doctor has an impressive range of sweary bits -a Guardian article displayed a sample of what Tucker serves his unfortunate interlocutors.
Incidentally, the senior Communications boss character is a bit of a bully. BBC Magazine did feature an article about it (reference to the Gordon Brown alleged bullying behaviour at N°10), but that’s not our point.
Malcolm Tucker does not only police the ministers, he also put the pressure on journalists, the valiant seekers of the truth, as Francis Urquhart said another reference in fictional politicians-
Now, what’s so interesting about an angry Scottish spin-doctor that shouts at everyone, making his way through manipulating his peers, the journalists and even the Prime Minister? It’s modern politics. Politicians in the post-industrialized countries are more and more sucked into the almost real-time media turmoil, they have to make statements and provide their opinions on almost everything. Politicians, it seems, by using and pretending to manipulate the Medias, found themselves trapped in the very scheme they devised for their benefit. That’s why post-modern politicians need Spin doctors, like Malcolm Tucker.
Briefly, the character is loosely based on the actual Spin Doctor Alistair Campbell, special adviser to the then-prime minister Tony Blair (though he denies any common features with Tucker), and, well, I just wanted to write something about Tucker. It is quite fascinating, not in a good way I mean. I know he represents everything I resent in politics and politicians, but the character is so manipulative, so… devious that one has to admit it: ‘what if that’s how politics does work?’
Nonetheless, it is always a pleasure to watch Malcolm Tucker manipulating, swearing and bullying the unfortunate ministers, colleagues and civil servant staff; Not that I like the abusive part of it, but it seems, following Bergson, because It is so human, and also because I wouldn’t identify myself with, say, Hugh Abbott or even Malcolm Tucker himself !