True to form of life imitating art, this week’s episode of Armando Iannucci’s ‘The Thick of It’ featured a government policy of ending breakfast clubs in schools. Just hours after the episode went out on Saturday night, the Sunday papers reported that the real government was mooting the very same idea. While the government remains the main target of the show – and we can all recognise a little bit of Roger Allam’s brilliant Peter Mannion in various Tory ministers – should Ed Miliband be worried about the new series?
The simple answer is yes, the easy answer is no. It’s just satire, right? Obviously Ed is landing far more blows than the hapless Nicola Murray, who we hear only achieved the dizzy heights of leader of the Labour Party thanks to the unions. She also struggles to find a voice and barely surviving a stream of awkward public engagements. Remind you of anyone?
By focusing on the upper echelons of a party for the first time, rather than the view from the mythical siberian Department of Social Affairs and Citizenship, ‘The Thick of It’ has a new scope for undermining the public’s view of politicians. We never saw the party leaders before, and it’s unfortunate for Ed that this expansion of the show has happened under his reign at the top of his party.
Just minutes into the first ‘Labour in opposition’ episode, spin doctors and shadow ministers were already discussing ousting a leader who, like Miliband, is two years into the job. Delaying the regicide for ‘eight months’ so ‘it looks like we gave her a try’ might cause ears to prick up in red circles.
Smoothie Shadow Cabinet member Dan Miller, whose initials are a throwback to when the show was at least trying to be subtle, is the obvious leadership rival and the first time the show has shown a Cabinet or Shadow Cabinet must have made for uncomfortable viewing for Miliband’s people. Just last week we had John Rentoul reporting Miliband ‘breaking off as he spoke to the shadow cabinet to reproach Balls, who was texting’. An almost identical incident happened in this week’s show, scripted and shot months ago. People are going to start talking.
Nicola, to all intents and purposes Miliband in a wig, and the much missed master of the dark arts Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi) have to deal with errant articles from their own friends at the New Statesman – something Team Ed spinners Tom Baldwin and Bob Roberts are well used to.
If Season 4 continues with such alarming accuracy, Ed might want to start scribbling down Malcolm Tucker’s advice each week.