9 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Interesting political comment but not without it's flaws
bob the moo from United Kingdom
16 December 2002
In 1992 a group of labour activists, Paul, Maggie and Irène, are dismayed
yet another Labour defeat to a Conservative Government. They each wish
support Labour in different ways. Irène works for the BBC, Paul applies
a job in the Labour press office while Maggie volunteers for the party.
Gradually the Labour party changes it's tactics to spin their appearance.
Paul rises up in the ranks while Maggie stands for her hometown and Irène
notices the changes in media tack. At the next election labour sweep to
power with Paul part of the media team and Maggie winning her seat.
can the party maintain the approach desired by their grass root members
give in to the reality of politics as they have been playing
Shown over two nights on BBC1 on Remembrance weekend this was billed as
attack on how New Labour has fallen from the lofty principles it held
in opposition. Newspaper articles before the show were touting
as the new voice of criticism in an environment increasingly controlled
political spin. To some extent this programme did serve to do that - but
didn't totally convince or manage to be as clever or as insightful as
programmes where political comment is not just the sole reason
The plot basically shows how New Labour has become more like the Tory
than the Labour party of the working people they once billed themselves
be. It shows the ruthless tactics used to get to power and to stay in
by using powerful whips against MPs and media spin to cover mistakes etc.
But is this a point that needs 4 hours to make? Most of us in the UK
how Labour has basically gone from red to blue and can't be totally
in what they say (just like any party).
Stretching this point to 4 hours gives it time to examine and expand it
without ramming down our throats but instead it does just that. The fact
that Labour has abandoned it's principles is simply made but not expanded
upon well. The device of using three characters who begin full of
enthusiasm and end up betraying what they once believed in is a good idea
but it means we spend too much time looking at their relationships and
private lives and it drags the events out. The one point is well blended
into this but I've seen it done better on things like the West Wing or
short sketches by Rory Bremnar. Our three leads are meant to represent
wide-eyed innocents who change with the party - but the problem is that
seem to be the only people in the whole UK who are surprised by how
political parties work! Didn't they know that idealistic principles only
work in opposition and that any government needs to say one thing and
eventually may need to do another and upset some groups?
This fault does affect the film because it does feel like the makers
giving us any credit for having noticed this ourselves over the past 2
of office. However this is a minor complaint as to be fair this isn't
pretending to be breaking news to us. As a dramatisation of what we
know it works quite well - but I suspect you'll enjoy it more if you're
the conservative party. So it's aimed at the masses who don't read
who don't watch Newsnight or listen to radio 4 - but will these people
drawn in by a 4 hour political drama? I doubt it.
Having said that I did enjoy the programme and it was well made and well
researched. It is good that someone is willing to be the voice of
But the BBC do alright out of it! They are all over it as the voice of
reason, showing no political bias! Please! This makes a point of
the BBC roasting whoever the Government of the day is - but isn't this is
same BBC who were attacked for changing their 6 o'clock news backdrop
blue to red in 1997? Or for using the song `things can only get better'
supposedly balanced piece looking at New Labour? The only time another
network is mentioned is when it is following up a sleazy piece - which of
course the BBC would never do! But these don't take away from the film
whole or from it's message.
The cast are all pretty good and made up of many familiar faces. Harris
stands out as the best performance in the film. In the space of 4 months
this is the third thing I have seen in her and she has been good every
(in three very different roles). I am being to get a real admiration for
her as she puts her heart into her roles and make them totally
Not an easy task here as many of the characters are real paint by numbers
jobs. MacFadyen has the same problem but does well in a role that
several key stages. Baeza is good but has less importance to the story
the other two. Support roles in the film are filled well but do tend to
a little `good politician, righteous politician' etc however they are all
Overall this is worth watching if only to confirm what we already know.
fact that this film made no real splash in the newspapers shows that this
not news - everyone knows the score here. It feels professional and is
written and pretty well acted. At 4 hours it feels a bit stretched but
is worth watching once. As for me, I'm slowly becoming a Naomie Harris
and would happily watch her hoover her house for 2 hours on the strength
her recent work.
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