Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Portillo Documentary Was a Hit

The Portillo documentary on BBC 4 last night was a gripping 90 minutes of political TV. As regulars know, I'm no great fan of Mr P, but this programme was superb. I think he may have found his niche. Like several of his other TV documentaries he imposed himself on the narrative, and again, it worked. He sought to explain the Thatcherite legacy on the Conservative Party and did it very well. His main theory was that the Party had still to recover from the way Margaret Thatcher was overthrown and that David Cameron is the first leader to look as if he can administer the necessary medicine. His star witnesses all seemed to agree with at least the first part of thatr sentence.

The star of the whole programme was Michael Howard. His cameo appearances showed a self knowledge and analysis of his own limitations which was gripping to watch. He knew the party had to change but knew that his own personality would not let him introduce some of the measures needed to do it.

There were one or two factual howlers - David Mellor was never in Margaret Thatcher's cabinet, for instance - but overall the programme demonstrated how this genre of documentary can work. I'm not sure what appeal it will have had outside the political classes, but they deserve to be catered for too.

As a footnote, it was also interesting that Portillo admitted that his candid interview with William Hague was the first time the two men had spoken since 2001.

You can watch the programme HERE (until 3 March)

30 comments:

LG Test Blog said...

You're right it was excellent viewing, more of this kind of stuff from him would be good.

James Burdett said...

It was certainly the best documentary I have seen in a good while. The candour of all participants was impressive and made for a riveting watch.

Donal Blaney said...

Watching the programme that followed it, however, it was fascinating how much of the same historical footage was common to both programmes!

Albert M. Bankment said...

I thought that the telling omission was the revised history of William Hague's bid for the leadership in 1997. He had been lined up as dream-ticket with Howard as leader but, at the last minute, decided or was persuaded [by people who should have known better] to go for it himself. This left Howard as a right-wing has-been without Hague's perceived new-generational appeal to leaven him.

I have always felt that Kenneth Clarke [rather than Howard] was the man to have knocked Blair around during that first parliament, having held and done well in all the major departments. His experience would have shown up Blair's vacuous confidence, and he has the common touch. Still, Howard would have done well enough, leaving Hague to go for the leadership in his own right 4 crucial years later. As it is, he was always someone who failed to be taken seriously as an alternative leader [that ridiculous baseball-cap stunt, for example], and was burned out and discredited before he had a chance to do the job convincingly. His minders and PR advisors should have been boiled in oil.

It just goes to show that for stupid behaviour in epic proportions you can always rely on a truly intelligent man. A massive intellect, but eff all common-sense.

Nevertheless, I do wish that William Hague would change his mind and have another tilt at leadership, for he would be magnificent. He has the oratory, the ease, the confidence under fire and the presence which David Cameron so singularly lacks.

Ed said...

It was an excellent programme. It did, however, make my blood boil to see how the infighting in the Conservative party effectively handed Blair his second and third election victories on a plate. The party (MPs and ordinary members) really need to stop stabbing each other in the back and get behind Cameron once and for all instead of wishing it was still the 1980s. Britain cannot survive another Brown term.

Anonymous said...

Any idea how those of us living outisde of the UK can get to see this?

The weblink tells us Expats we can't get it ;o(

what might have been said...

It's all turned into a Greek-style tragedy hasn't it? First Mrs T wouldn't leave things alone, then that numpty Major went and won the 1992 election, which was clearly one best lost, and in 1997 Hague got flattered into standing for the leadership when he was far too young....

bebopper said...

Albert M Bankment says Hague was ridiculed by the baseball cap photo op at the Notting Hill Carnival.
Who was his spin doctor?
Step forward Amanda Platell, who nowadays writes poisonous copy about David Cameron for the Daily Mail. He's shallow and gimmicky, she says.
I agree Mr Bankment: she should be boiled in oil.

Anonymous said...

OF topic....A few days ago I commented that I thought it should be compulsory for every politician to visit Auschwitz. My comment was described as idiotic by Verity. I notice that Nadine and the Deputy Chief Whip are on their way there now, according to her blog.

BOF2BS said...

It was also exceptionally well filmed.

On I think it was Marr's radio thing on Monday (start the week?)Portillo was a contributor and he & Marr were agreeing that the no communication scenario was quite common.

Major/Lamont apparently had a 10 year silence after Sept 1992!!

canvas said...

Portillo has sex appeal. He should do more TV.

Anonymous said...

Good old BBC.

simon said...

Well, it was great TV and FINALLY an admission from the pro-EU bampots that deposing Thatcher was a big mistake; although they use the pathetic excuse that 'she would have lost the '92 GenElec'- what a load of rubbish. It made the pro-EU Clarke and Patten look ridiculous. Watching Thatcher at the despatch box, you felt it was a Prime Minister in action- a feeling you don't get whilst watching Major, Blair, and now Broon. Thatcher had the majority of conservative voters respect, and after 1990- the voters lost their respect for the conservative party. Fitting.

Albert M. Bankment said...

Greetings Bebopper @ 11.11

Amanda Platell is at the Daily Mail, eh? Each has overwhelming delusions of adequacy. They thoroughly deserve each other. As Tennyson observed of the Carlyles' marriage, "By any other arrangement, four people would have been unhappy instead of two".

Mike H said...

What a superb programme. If it wasn't for your post, Iain, I would have missed it. Thanks.

Note to self:- Must get into the habit of looking at the BBC4 schedules.

Mike H said...

It's on again tonight (Tuesday) on BBC4 at 11.30 for those who missed it and don't want to watch it online.

Anonymous said...

Albertm: having seen quite a lot of Hague whilst he was Leader, some of it at CCO in times of crisis, I can't agree about his leadership qualities.

He's a pleasant enough chap, but there's a sheet of ice behind the eyes that never melts, and he doesn't have that magical quality that makes you want to die in a ditch for him.

Gary, Hong Kong said...

Oh this is so frustrating... I am in Hong Kong and I can't view the video ... Does anyone have any suggestions - other than taking a flight back home??

Thanks

Gary, Hong Kong said...

Oh this is so frustrating... I am in Hong Kong and I can't view the video ... Does anyone have any suggestions other than taking a flight back home??

Thanks

ajdshootist said...

For Expats log on to
http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/
very usefull.

Mike H said...

ajdshootist said...

For Expats log on to
http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/
very useful.


Unfortunately it looks like iPlayer is only available within the UK. The following is from the BBC iPlayer help page:-

Can I use BBC iPlayer outside the UK?

Rights agreements mean that BBC iPlayer television programmes are only available to users to download or stream (Click to Play) in the UK. However, BBC Worldwide is working on an international version, which we will make available as soon as possible.


Maybe someone will decide to put a bootleg copy up on YouTube :-)

Anonymous said...

Found it painfully slow. The discussions around the sell out of this country framed entirely in terms of the effect on the Conservative Party were disgusting.

Albert M. Bankment said...

Anonymous @1.11

You mean, Hague doesn't have the thrilling charisma of ... Ian Duncan Smith?

You kinda prove my point. He was so desparately hungry to get his hands on the levers - or allowed other people to goad him - that he went for it when he was, crucially, one parliament too young. Ice behind the eyes is a good thing in a politician.

I thought he was a bit of [well, a lot of, to be frank] a pillock in 1997, but he has matured into an all-round impressive piece of political machinery. Adversity has taught him the benefits of having a full life. Imagine *him* making Gordon squirm and rage at PMQ, instead of Cameron's leaden efforts. Labour retaliation would be, in Saki's words, "bovine ragging that suggested cows buzzing round a gadfly."

Anonymous said...

albert m.

You don't live at the top of a tower block by any chance, do you?

Yours,

"Defamatory Vileness".

David Lindsay said...

If it's howlers you want, then how about the failure to mention the Single European Act, the Anglo-Irish Agreement, the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, the replacement of O-levels with GCSEs, and the destruction of paternal authority within working-class families and communities through the destruction of that authority’s economic basis in the stockades of working-class male employment?

No Prime Minister, ever, has done more in any one, never mind all, of the causes of European federalism, Irish Republicanism, Police inefficiency and ineffectiveness, collapsing educational standards, and everything that underlies or follows from the destruction of paternal authority.

When the next General Election is upon us, people will have the vote who were not born when she was removed from office. At that Election, post-Thatcher teenagers will first enter Parliament in some numbers, a few being already there. And by the time of the Election after that ... well, you can finish that sentence for yourself.

Get over her!

michael said...

Did anyone read Charlie Brooker's comments in the Guardian?

It seems to me like all you silly Tories could do with a quick, strong shot of the other side of the argument.

Anonymous said...

Iain,

This is a dreadful post:

1. The quote is absolutely standard and non-sliperry. He is saying nothing, which is what most politicians say most of the time. It would be worth noting if he held out the possibility that the death penalty could be brought back. I would like you post every time David Cameron said something equally slippery. I know this is a conservative leaning blog, but blind partisanship is not appealing to non believers and this is quite simply nothing but shrill pointing of fingers on your part.

2. A suspected murderer is just that. A suspect. I would have thought you would be in favour of the principal of innocent till proven guilty. Of course, steps need to be taken to make sure that obviously dangerous people/potential absconders are kept in prison, but the onus should be on releasing prisoners. Only a fool or a fraud would pretend that making a decision on whether to lock someone up for possibly more than a year when they are still legally innocent is easy. Your comment sugests that failure to keep every murder suspect behind bars until they have been proven innocent is akin to being soft on crime.

-

This is lazy commentary and, frankly, suggests you have your own dog whistle.

Big Andy

Adrian Bailey said...

Thank God you got rid of Mrs T when you did. Like a sizeable chunk of the British people, I couldn't stand the woman. If only the Argies hadn't invaded the damn Falklands...

Of course, what I hadn't reckoned with was that Tony Blair would be so awful too. The irony of it: after bemoaning Tory government for so many years, once Labour had finally come to power I emigrated! Which seemed pretty stupid, until I found out what a bunch of phoneys New Labour were.

Anonymous said...

Ian - your right on the button here - Mr P did an excellent job - lets have more Mr.P

Andy said...

Iain. Wasn't David Mellor Arts Minister in Thatcher's cabinet, albeit briefly?