The Spectacular Narrative Collapse of Theresa May

Theresa May currently shares many parallels with Armando Ianucci’s BBC comedy ‘The Thick of It.’ I’m fairly sure May’s “omnishambles” of a General Election campaign and her series of bungled interviews, policies and initiatives were what Ianucci was aiming for in crafting the character of Nicola Murray and many of the other hapless, shambolic government ministers. It isn’t difficult to imagine many blunt ‘conversations’ between Lynton Crosby and May during the campaign resembling Peter Capaldi’s Malcolm Tucker in a sweary rant on the sheer levels of incompetence exhibited by any one of the characters on the show. I’m also reminded of Tucker’s speech to the minister Hugh Abbot in the first series of the show.  Something along the lines of, “People love it when you go (resign) a bit early. They say, “Oooh I wasn’t expecting that. You don’t see that much anymore.”” What follows is a lot of desperate attempts by Abbot to save his own skin rather than immediately resigning. He laments, “My optimum resignation window has gone.” When he eventually goes to resign, he’s been ‘beaten to it’ by junior minister Dan Miller, who has quickly learned the art of the strategic resignation. Miller will go onto become party leader in the final series. As Wilde said, “Life imitates art far more than art imitates life.” In May’s failure to resign on Friday morning she has ensured she has been consigned to the political dustbin of history. She remains Prime-Minister in name only and is a political person non-grata. She is a walking irrelevance. Her continued clinging to power only serves to further damage her and her own party through her toxicity. She committed political suicide clasping to her manifesto. Described as the ‘vaguest suicide note in history.’ If this was fiction, hers would be a narrative collapse. Usually the point in a story where a character dies and they can no longer serve the narrative in any constructive way. If you are in the business of writing fiction, there is always a price to be paid for killing off a character. Usually it is in the form of ‘hitting a brick wall.’ To circumvent and recover from a narrative collapse. A new narrative must be formed in its place. How big the price is anyone’s guess or what the new narrative will be is anyone’s guess. I’m sure fans of Marx’s material dialactics will have some tantalising ideas though.

On the subject of narrative, the author Robert Harris in today’s Sunday Times compared Brexit to a disaster drama. Harris pointed out that the secret to any great disaster drama is to set a countdown to said disaster (Article 50) and then shorten it to ramp up the tension (calling a general election shortly after). Now seeing as we’ve had the person we presumed to be the main character in this drama commit hari kari ten minutes in, we can safely say, you couldn’t write this stuff. 


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