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Saturday, September 10, 2011

A cameo scene from the West Wing should be required viewing for all of our politicians before the party conferences.

A pattern is emerging across our political parties. They seem to be having a problem remembering who they represent and what they stand for.

Tim Farron for the LibDems observes that his party has “suffered a loss of identity....and support”. Whilst Ivan Lewis at Labour suggests his party “looks like and speaks on behalf of an urban metropolitan elite". Complete the cycle with the Conservatives humbled from their retreat on forests and now succeeding in getting the National Trust to launch a petition over planning. It takes something to upset your natural supporters whatever the party. How has this detachment come about?

Revisiting the second episode ( Series Four ) from the iconic West Wing fictional drama, one is reminded of a scene where White House staffers, Josh Lyman and Toby Ziegler, having lost the presidential motorcade, have a conversation with an ordinary Joe in an Indiana bar.

He is not a wastrel just someone caught out by events beyond his control. He wants a little help so that he can keep his head above water. In a slow drawl and gestulating slowly with his fingers, he indicates that he wants just an inch of government support. Ziegler listens uncomfortably and asks if they can talk. It is a humbling piece of drama. The cameo just highlights the insularity of the Washington bubble and ditto Westminster.

So what one might ask? Well, our political elites and the media circus will soon be at their party conferences. As they retire to their hotel bedrooms, perhaps they should put the DVD in the player, start the episode and reflect on what they are doing, why and for whom.

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