In The Loop, the feature film spin-off of Armando Iannucci’s BBC comedy The Thick Of It, was once described by Alastair Campbell as “far more venal and crass” than real-life politics. The man, on whom many suspect fictional Director of Communications Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi) is based, couldn’t have been more wrong. Real-life politics has proven itself to be more venal and crass than Tucker and his government of frenemies has ever been, from the expenses-fiddling scandal to the continued existence of Boris Johnson. With a fourth series of The Thick Of It in the offing, and a new, gaffe-prone coalition in power, Armando Iannucci (the series’ creator, producer and chief writer) will have a wealth of inspiration to draw on.
As the third series ended, both parties were gearing up for a general election, with the Prime Minister’s resignation and the introduction of Cal Richards – or “the Fucker”, played by Tom Hollander – in opposition. Iannucci must be rubbing his hands with glee at the prospect of fictionalising the tumultuous reign of David Cameron and Nick “only pulling your leg” Clegg. While we wait for the next series to hit our screens, here’s a look at five real-life political blunders that would surely have incurred the wrath of Malcolm Tucker…
Cameron appears to get confused, stutter a bit, go red and then completely give up when answering a fairly simple question about gay rights. It’s basic stuff: gay rights = good. OK? No, not OK, because the stuttering precipitates a minor meltdown, with Cameron blaming the combination of print and TV media recording him as a reason why he might suggest gay rights were not totally, 100%, a good thing. OTB is surprised he didn’t just go with his old fallback, “I met a gay guy once…”
When admitting to claiming expenses on a second home, even though you have three and earn extra cash from renting it, the words “it’s a great system isn’t it?”, accompanied a masturbatory smirk, probably aren’t the best on NATIONAL TELEVISION. Seeing the man a few months later grovelling for his job, with his Fanta orange tan all faded away, couldn’t be more satisfying.
Oh Nick. You went to an Eton taster day, you scoffed the canapes, chugged the cigars and laughed at the local civvies. But then the big boys made you steal an extra eclair at dinner, and now your getting told off by the dinner lady. And what’s more, your poor mates at the comprehensive will never, ever, ever elect you again.
Politicians can be caught lying, or they can swear on kids TV, or they can confuse Iran and Iraq, or Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. But the funniest thing that they can ever, ever do is fall in a pond. The first fall is funny, the second is hilarious, and the look on his face is worth printing off and hanging on your wall.
See how the camera zooms straight in on David when it becomes clear that little brother Ed has beaten him in the Labour leadership race? That’s because the British love an underdog, a Cornish pasty, and watching people fail when they clearly thought they had won. With a sudden jerk of the foot, a slight twitch of the eye and a rigid, dead-behind-the-eyes smile, he gets up to give his little bro hugsies. You can almost smell the immediate desire to sulk off, cry, kick the wall, eat all of the ice cream out of the freezer and then go and work for Sunderland FC.