Every ‘The Thick Of It’ moment of the General Election so far
It’s the same but with less creative swearing
It’s often said that life imitates art. And nowhere is this truer than in the world of British politics. Since Armando Iannucci’s sweary ensemble arrived in Westminster in 2005, many have seen The Thick of It as the perfect political satire. Somehow managing to perfectly encompass both the lofty ambitions and the grubby reality of life in British public life, it’s become a cult classic that even MPs admit is pretty realistic.
Whenever someone in Parliament fucks up, it’s always branded a “Thick of It” moment, be it botched interviews, ridiculous weirdo policies and every time a member of the public screams at an MP at a village fête. Even though it ended in 2012, nearly five years later, it’s still managing to predict the gaffes of the 2017 snap election.
The snap election itself
In the finale of the third series, an unpopular government in trouble calls a snap election to bring together the party and the leadership. All hell breaks loose in both the government and the opposition’s offices as helpless civil servants try to work out what the fuck is going on. Now, we have no idea what happened in the corridors of power when the election was sprung upon us, but doesn’t it seem likely that everyone was running around like headless chickens trying to keep their jobs, or work out whether an election was a good thing at all?
The David Davis poster
You don’t even have to draw parallels for this one, it literally happened pretty much as written. A politician stands in front of sign they can’t see properly, and boom – a screenshot that lasts forever. In series three when posing in Leamington Spa during Whether this was the work of a Malcolm Tucker-esque rogue civil servant or just a SPAD not doing their job properly almost doesn’t matter. All that really counts is the visual of a Tory standing in front of sign that says “Hell for your family”, which is something that money just can’t buy.
Theresa May getting shouted at in the street
Every so often, when politicians are forced to go out and about to interact with the real people of this country, they find themselves next to someone that doesn’t like either them very much. Similarly to Hugh Abbot at the factory visit in series two, Theresa May found herself on the end of some harsh words about her policies and how they affected those with learning difficulties. And just like Hugh Abbot when he faced the woman asking about her mother’s care home, the Prime Minister didn’t quite know what to say. After trying to placate the public with some general ramblings about mental health, she was whisked away somewhere far from ordinary people.
No-one knowing what numbers they should be saying
One of the most memorable scenes in the whole of The Thick of It is Jeremy Paxman’s sumptuous skewering of junior minister Ben Swain. As the pressure mounts and the facts abandon him, he blinks, he flusters, he loses all idea of what a coherent sentence is. Unfortunately, since we lost Paxman in a giant beardy retirement, there’s no direct copy of a Newsnight grilling in 2017. What we do have however, is a wealth of numbers related cockups by all serious parties running in the election.
When Diane Abbott was asked how many police officers Labour was planning to hire if they won the election, the numbers went from £300,000 for 10,000 police officers (£30 a year) to £80m for 100,000 (£800 a year) in a matter of seconds. After accusing the interviewer of putting stats in her mouth, the number of police officers jumped again to 250,000, but then bizarrely down to 2500. Now LBC isn’t the BBC and Nick Ferrari isn’t Paxman, but this is a pretty good substitute.
I don’t know what it is about Nick Ferrari that makes people forget numbers just by hearing the sound of his voice, but apparently Diane Abbott has been the only one to fall foul of the LBC heavyweight. In another Swain-esque panic, Labour’s shadow education secretary Angela Rayner forgets how many children her policy is supposed to help, how big the class sizes she’s trying to cut down are, simply saying “a substantial amount” over and over again, before Nick whips out the correct number.
You know what? I thought it was going to be different for the Lib Dems this time around. Nick “Judas” Clegg has left the party, they were standing up for the 48 percent who voted remain, and offered a slightly less Marxist option than the Tories. But they seem to be pretty intent on ensuring their own destruction first with Tim Farron’s weird problem with gay marriage and secondly by not quite knowing their own numbers. When pressed by Susannah Reid on exactly how many public sector workers they wanted to give pay rises to, the only thing Vince Cable could come up with was “a couple of million I would have thought” before being told it was closer to six.