Many fans of UK politics have called for a revolution in the long-running British political soap opera, claiming that the show is now in terminal decline. They say it is too often little more than clichéd political parties spouting hackneyed and trite scripts that increasingly seem to have little to do with the real world.
In response, the producers of the show have promised that they are bringing in new scriptwriters into the programme. They have also promised that they are going to get rid of the current goodies versus baddies plot format. The scriptwriters are keen to introduce a much more nuanced approach to the performances of the leading actors as well.
Many political traditionalists are worried though that a more complex script and more nuanced characters will mean that UK politics will lose a good many of its stock characters, especially the baddies. Political fans think this will ruin the show. They point to the fact that the long tradition of goodies versus baddies in the parliamentary theatre as one of the reasons why the pantomime has continued for as long as it has.
However, critics of the current format point out that modern-day audiences are far more sophisticated and demanding. They believe the show needs more complex dramas if they are to hold the interest of the contemporary audience. This is particularly important if the producers of the show hope to attract new younger audiences as the current audience ages and dies.
Unfortunately, though, politics has been losing sponsors and backers on both sides of the goodies versus baddies debate. Leading industrialist and moneymen on one side and the trade unions on the other are increasingly unwilling to fund the ever triter and predictable performances put out by the various sides in the show.
Many in the Conservative party also have expressed doubts that their current role as the pantomime baddies in the political performances can continue much longer. Many have called for a new role, as one Toy MP said ‘that acknowledges that the free market and individual liberty has done more for the wealth, health and happiness of all humanity than all the Left-Wing solutions put together.’
Many political performers on the Left are frustrated too that they have had no new script for a long time. ‘We are bored with spouting the old class-war platitudes and the tired clichés about inequality and the mendacity of the wealthy,’ one rising star of the Labour backbenches said recently.
There are rumours too that many of those playing MPs in the current production are dissatisfied with the roles they are playing. A few have been in talks with their agents about switching sides in the show, or even joining new parties, in hope of finding new material to perform and roles to play.
Political art critics have pointed out, though, that any changes to the form and even the players and stars in the political circus may be too late. ‘Already,’ one said, ‘we have seen audiences drifting away from the political shows to things like reality shows and talent competitions, entertainment forms where they feel their vote really matters.’
It has long been a contention of those critical of political theatre that the audience votes, although paid lip service to, do actually change very little in politics. Many voters say they find it hard to tell the difference between the political actors. Several voters find it hard to distinguish which are the goodies or the baddies because they are all so alike and indistinguishable, but worst of all, dull and unentertaining.
Most voters, these days, feel that unless there is a revolution in the political circus soon, it will become yet another performance art struggling to attract the kind of audiences its long history and traditions ought to deserve.