God knows there’s very little love for politicians these days. Plus ça change, perhaps. But the distrust is escalating, from scorn (‘The Thick of It’) to the sheer contempt underpinning this latest Paula Milne offering – ‘The Politician’s Husband’ – a bookend to her 1995 drama, ‘The Politician’s Wife.’
As we first meet Aiden Hoynes (David Tennant), he’s putting his balls on the line. A cabinet minister, he’s resigning from government on an apparent matter of principle. A rarity in today’s Westminster sewer, right? And, as it turns out, the resignation is too good to be true – Hoynes is positioning himself for a tilt at the leadership. One betrayal later, his career has gone tits up. But handily, his wife Freya (Emily Watson) is also a politico. Can Hoynes play long-distance Machiavelli and manipulate his better half into a position to take revenge?
‘The Politician’s Wife’ is smart, well performed and atmospheric. But, even if it’s based in some degree of reality, we’re beginning to wonder if this protracted and ongoing characterisation of all politicians as venal, amoral scum is a little lazy and possibly even slightly counterproductive. Are there no politicians of principle left? And if not, who exactly is to blame? The politicians, certainly. And the voters who swallow their lies too. But isn’t there also a chance that dramas like this end up normalising exactly the kind of behaviour they’re trying to excoriate? That way lies apathy, not anger.
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