I must quickly mention my current, excellent Audible read. I’ve had a few disappointments recently but A Very British Coup seems excellent. It was written in the early Eighties about the late Eighties, so I suppose from that perspective, you could describe it as Dystopian.
Obviously with the word “coup” in the title, I had imagined that there might be some armed insurrection involved – that might still happen, I’m only part-way through – but despite the word “British” I hadn’t realised that it would be set in the UK.
A left-wing government is elected, just through the normal electoral process that we have today. From Day #1, they are undermined – by the Civil Service, by the Secret Services, by the Americans, by the newspaper barons, by corrupt leaders of trade unions. I suspect this is the “coup” bit, as they are forcing the government out of office every bit as effectively as if they held a gun to their heads. It all sounds very 1970s – but also quite ominous in terms of Corbyn, now. I mean, none of this is particularly visionary – inasmuch as we know what we understand actions and reactions. It’s just interesting to see the possible effects if a few people act in unison, nicely collated in one place.
I mean, it’s written as a novel but really it seems to be a manual on how to topple a government. It’s actually a very serious read, although it is dressed as fiction.You could imagine it still happening today, especially if ever we elected a government on an anti-establishment ticket.
It does kind-of make me think of how over-arching the establishment is, and how the odds are stacked against a government which wants to change things. Tony Benn used to say that when we have an election, it is not a vote to change the system, but merely to change its manager. The author, Chris Mullins, is a politician, by the way. Not really any surprise there. He held minor office in one of Blair’s governments and I remember he wrote an entertaining autobiography about his time in office. Seemed to focus on the sheer impotency of junior ministers.