Tuesday, March 23, 2004

If this does not reflect you view you should understand. Those who own the papers also own this land. And they'd rather you believed in Coronation Street capers. In the war of circulation, it sells newspapers.

Who can say what inspires us to believe what we do?

What forms our beliefs, our morals and our own personal ideologies?

I tried to plot a list of links that have helped form my own opinions. It was prompted by UK Drama repeating "A Very British Coup". I watched the TV programme and read the book sometime in the mid to late eighties.

It had a big effect on me. Written by Sunderland South MP, Chris Mullin who is also a journalist, you would expect it to have at least a flavour of the truth about it.

For those that haven't read the book or seen the series, here's a quick synopsis of the plot. Tired of Tories, fat cats and City swindlers the voters of Britain make a huge swing to the left. Despite the newspapers branding him a communist, charismatic Harry Perkins (steelworker from Sheffield) rises to power on a wave of goodwill.

Before long he sets about his election promises. He kicks out the American air bases, he makes Britain "non-aligned", he promises a referendum on the monarchy, and he angers the press barons by aiming to establish a "one man, one newspaper" law.

He's tremendously strong. He can't be bought. And he knows he's up against it.

You could see why the electors would go for him. He has an air of reliability about him. He's funny too but he also comes across as genuine. He also has lots of lovely sound bites, like this one when he's being interviewed on a train, after his election success, en-route to London:

Is it true you are going to abolish first class on trains?

No, I am going to abolish second class. I believe all people are first class.

From the very outset though the establishment are plotting to undermine him. The Murdoch figure is battering him daily in the press, the secret services are digging up every last little bit of muck they can find on him, and the CIA are employing dirty tricks.

It may sound a little far fetched. But remember that strong left wing governments have always been undermined by the USA. Look at Nicaragua, El Salvador, look at Cuba. No one can deny Murdoch plays his own little power games - dangling his support in return for favours. Meanwhile, it's common knowledge that the Harold Wilson Government was undermined by his own secret services.

It's a beautifully written story. The beauty of the books and the series is that they end differently. There's a triumphant ending and a miserable ending.

While watching or reading, however, there are two things that strike you:

1. Why can't we have a prime minister like Harry Perkins?

2. How could we ever have a PM like Harry Perkins when they would be undermined from the start?

The TV series shows an uplifting scene when Harry gets elected. It stirred in me much the same emotions as when Blair made it to number 10 years later. Having grown up with the Tories, I expected things to get much better under Labour. Before I get complaints, I think they have got a little better. But Blair is no Harry Perkins.

Perhaps though, Blair is the only type of Labour PM we could have ever had. Does the weight of the establishment mean that only the very soft left are an option? Let's face it we have never had a real left-wing prime minister in this country? Is this because they are unpalatable to the electorate or because they would be effectively kicked out by the "powers that be".

If its the latter then Blair and his buddies should stop shouting quite so loud about British freedom and democracy. The trouble is, I am certain it is the latter.

A Very British Coup, despite being 20 years old, is still full of remarkable parallels to the current Government. There's a bruising press secretary (only this one's a good guy), there's a plotting chancellor and there's warnings of troubles ahead from the USA if we don't pitch in with their defence plans.

We do seem to be stuck in a time loop with our politics. Just as you can watch videos of the late Bill Hicks and he may as well be talking about George Bush junior and the current Iraq war, the same forces are still shaping the world as they were in the eighties. The same shadowy figures are still pulling the strings.

But, as well as making you think, A Very British Coup is worth investing time in simply because, for a large part of it, it represents the dream. Britain being run by a man with conviction, morals and with the intelligence and resolve to make it work against all the odds. Harry Perkins is a man who believes in democracy and who believes that promises made to the electorate must be carried out regardless of adverse pressures from at home and abroad.

So, buy the book or the DVD or wait till it comes around again on UK Drama. To a certain extent it helps make the pieces fit into place as to why politicians behave as they do. And why the UK slavishly follows the US and bows and scrapes to Murdoch.

In the meantime, we'll all just have to wait for another Harry Perkins to come along.

Love, light and peace,


I saw two shooting stars last night I wished on them but they were only satellites. It's wrong to wish on space hardware. I wish, I wish, I wish you'd care.