Reaction from Lib Dems to The Amazing Mrs Pritchard has been mixed, but I feel that detractors are perhaps being a little harsh. The premise of the series does require us to ‘suspend disbelief’, after all if breaking the mould was that easy we’d have done it years ago! This week’s episode did lurch between tragic – when two soldiers died on a mission she had authorised – and fall off the sofa funny:
I’m the leader of the fourth biggest economy… and I haven’t got a ******* clue what I’m doing!
There were also serious issues, like Mrs Pritchard’s dilemna about sending her daughter to a deprived inner London comprehensive school.
I must confess that I loved it. If you accept that is fiction, and it couldn’t really happen – it is then interesting to ponder what we could learn from it. The ‘People’s Queen’s Speech’ was wacky, and yet I loved the idea of getting people interested in politics – and listening to their ideas. The problem with our current political landscape is that it appears to too many people to be a distant drama played out by politicians who decide policies in some remote, unfathomable way. I would love to see the BBC do one of their ‘Test the Nation’ type shows on politics. To set out some dilemnas facing this country and see what millions of people think in real time.
The storyline of ‘ordinary person gets involved in politics’ is not original. But’s it’s a storyline that almost offers scriptwriters a blank canvass. If it’s a storyline that intrigues you, I recommend ‘Dave’, a US movie in which an ordinary guy suddenly finds himself catapulted into the Whitehouse. There’s an inspiring scene about budget priorities where our hero enlists a friend with a calculator to re-evaluate why we say we cannot afford things we all agree we need.
But let’s also remember that politicians all start out as ordinary people. I do believe the majority of politicians genuinely want to make good decisions aimed at making life better for people. Perhaps the best thing about elected representatives is what also brings out the worst in them – the fact that we can remove them. Once elected, their job security is always on the line – and the fear of that makes too many MPs play safe and toe the party line. I was close to people involved in the 1997 Blair landslide. In 1997, we elected many good hearted and well meaning people. Sadly they now think more about losing their seats than about protesting that Blair sold them a pup.
What politics needs is more outspoken representatives who tell it like it is – a bit like Mrs Pritchard in fact.