I have just watched this 1988 political mini-series, A Very British Coup, again – download here).
It was powerful when I first watched as it is 24 years later. A socialist prime minister has just won the general election, and it describes the machinations of the “British establishment” to remove him from office. It was based on a book by Chris Mullin who I knew of at the time as an MP supporting the Birmingham 6, and whose determined efforts contributed to their eventual relief. Apart from this his political career, by my recall, was not at all remarkable, yet this miniseries is extremely inspiring.
Nowadays the premise might seem weak. When the 1% clearly control both parties, Labour and Conservative, there is no way that they would allow a socialist to contest party leadership let alone a general election. People might infer that in 1988 such a socialist possibility existed, in my view that was equally far from true. The Labour party has moved to the right, a slow process started with Kinnock who compromised, and then enshrined by Blair whose supporters were legions of opportunists who had forgotten socialism if they ever knew what democracy ever stood for.
Harry Perkins, the fictional prime minister, continually sought democratic mandate through the electoral box. This could never have happened in real life, and is just part of a neoliberal charade that helps maintain the 99% under control. Occupy has demonstrated that democracy can only be grass roots, yet in a more idealised fiction that democracy would be allowed to vote for socialism the examination of the influence of the British establishment – in 1988 not seen as being the 1% control by finance – is both fascinating and in many ways current. For those who remember and liked it it is good to watch it again.