Sunday, 12 February 2012

Top Tories mustn't be allowed to watch the next series of "Borgen"

I lost patience with the 10-part Danish political drama series, Borgen, during the episode in which the unfeasibly hot Danish Prime Minister pushed through a law to force companies to make at least 50% of their board members female (I mean, to appoint them, rather than force males to undergo gender reassignment procedures – although, as we’re talking about dotty liberal fantasies, you never know).

I remember thinking the left-wing wet-dreamers behind the series had simply gone too far this time: no one, apart from our own Lib-Dems, would ever put forward such a dumb idea.

Unless, of course, it’s today’s whacky, touchy-feely,down-with-the-kids-in-the-hood,  caring British Conservative Party. 

Thanks to the likes of “modernisers” such as Francis Maude and the spineless pinko stooge of a PM they’ve chosen to spearhead the destruction of everything traditional Conservatives instinctively believe. The party of Peel and Disraeli and Lord Salisbury and Churchill and Mrs Thatcher has officially turned into one of those meaningless, left-of-centre, pseudo-fascistic, social-engineering outfits currently destroying the economies and societies of most European countries.

Of course, the centre-left has always been obsessed with Scandinavian social democracies. And no wonder. All those nice, tall, smiling, blond people taxing and spending like there’s no tomorrow (there probably won’t be) in the name of social justice or equality or whatever, while all living in “green” wooden houses in the forest and ski-ing and dispensing Nobel Peace Prizes and everyone winding up with socially useful degrees and driving Volvos and enjoying lots of healthy, vigorous, guilt-free rumpy-pumpy while taking achingly ethical positions on the world’s major problems.

Borgen, of course, did nothing but add to this mad myth, and I suspect Francis Maude sent the Tory High Command box sets so they’d get the message. Forget reality – this is the blueprint. Shapely Birgitte Nyborg, with her cool, Nordic beauty, her plain-folks earthiness and her self-sacrificing, eye-candy husband, her understanding and her boundless compassion – hell, this is what a 21st Century politician should be like. Forget the fact that her head’s full of wee broken biscuits and she appears to have no political beliefs that haven’t come straight out of a glossy, high-class Executive Woman magazine (“Success and family – can you have it all?” “Compassion – what the modern businesswoman brings to the party”, and “Women get it - ethics isn’t an option”).

I started off rooting for Birgitte (as it were) – and ended up cheering when her husband asked for a divorce and desperately hoping that the utter bastard ex-Labour leader Michael Laugesen would ultimately succeed in turfing the smug bint out of office. And she can take doughty but troubled ace TV news presenter Katrine Fønsmark (the one with unfeasibly large gob) with her – she’s really getting on my nerves: it takes a lot more than having an “ø” in your name to keep me onside.

The most interesting characters in the whole thing turned out to be Kasper Juul, the amoral young spin-doctor (the number of English terms and phrases they use is startling) and the fat old right-wing leader, who barely gets a look-in, and who'd be my personal choice as Danish PM.

The acting and the direction are good, as is the writing, and the whole thing fair zips along – but, ultimately, the achingly right-on West Wing-style political attitudes behind the enterprise wore me down. I shall mostly be watching the next series in the hope that Birgitte gets her come-uppance.

As for the issue of boardroom quotas for females, I can’t be bothered discussing the merits or otherwise of such an asinine proposal. Companies exist to make profits. The successful ones have figured out how to do this. If they thought that hiring more female executives (or blacks or Muslims or people with working-class accents) would do the trick, they’d have done it by now. You see, they really like making money. Forcing boardroom quotas on them is the equivalent of ordering them to accept lower profits. That would mean forcing down the stock market, which would mean we’d all lose. And their executives would earn less, so they’d pay less tax, so we'd all lose. And there’d be fewer jobs, so we'd all have to pay more in benefits, so we'd all lose.

Of all the many modern phrases I loathe, “That’s why I get out of bed in the morning” is my absolute unfavourite (the correct answer, of course, is either “to go to work and earn a living”, “to pee” or "to get the children to school" or a mixture of all three). Would David Cameron’s answer to the question seriously be: “to make British business less profitable”? Or “to do what the Lib-Dems and Francis Maude tell me to do”?

Let’s hope the higher reaches of the Tory Party don’t get to see the next series of Borgen: it might save us from the sort of ridiculously wanky liberal policy the twerps attempted to foist on us last week. 


  1. Quite properly, you express your "thanks to the likes of 'modernisers' such as Francis Maude".

    Some of your readers may not realise just how very modern Mr Maude is.

    May I bring to their attention a post on the Government Digital Service blog, Thoughts on my recent trip to the West Coast with Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office written by the even more modern Executive Director of Digital Efficiency and Reform Group, Cabinet Office, ex-Guardian man, Mike Bracken.

    There are photographs of Mr Maude wearing jeans and no tie, meeting Amr Awadallah (VP Engineering) and Tait Kirkham from Cloudera.

    Mr Maude attended a meeting at Joyent in the same attire with Rod Boothby, Chris Arisian, Laurel Reitman, Steve Tuck and Liam Maxwell from the Efficiency and Reform Group at Cabinet Office.

    And, same jeans, different company, there was his meeting at Lucid/MapR.

    Sadly, the meeting with Twilio didn't happen, his jeans couldn't attend, and there are no photographs of his jeans attending the meeting with 10 gen/MongoDB. Damn.

    A small matter by comparison, but just about worth recording:

    Andrew Nash, Google’s Director of Identity, ran us through the current issues facing identity.He explained how Google aim to grow and be part of an ecosystem of identify providers, and encouraged the UK Government to play its part in a federated system. The UK ID Assurance team and Google agreed to work more closely to define our strategy – so look out for future announcements. Andrew also took the opportunity to walk the Minister through the Identity ecosystem.

    There is no telling what Mr Maude or his jeans made of their walk through the identity ecosystem. But don't be surprised if all your transactions over the web – that's "all" in the sense of every single one of them – soon depend on Google, the modern addition to government in the UK.

  2. The concept of the "Jolly Green Giant" and "The Valley" was based on peas. When the company was taken over [by Pillsbury] the old chairman objected to the introduction of "runner beans" into the offer. "We don't grow beans in the vally," he objected. "The Green Giant doesn't do beans." An executive pointed out to him before they took him away [the Chairman, that is] that the valley did not exist. It was a fiction.

    "Borgen" is a teleplay. Politics is the back-drop. Andi it's rather well done. It's not real life

    Liv Ullman. Pia Degermark. Ingrid Thulin. Bibi Anderson, Gunnel Lindblom, Harriet Anderson -they all had "big gobs" [as you put it]. But they were pretty good actresses....? So what is your point?

  3. Do you think Francis Maude would wear jeans if he wasn;t desperately trying to project an image of "modernity" (which, of course, he's got dead wrong, anyway)? Strikes me as the sort of chap who'd be much happier in a charcoal-grey pin-stripe suit with matching waist-coat. Min d you, when I started working in new media, I turned up in a tweed jacket and tie for the first two weeks before I realised how extremely weird I looked to everyone.

    Also, I wonder if people like Maude ever feel guilty about wastng other people's money going on these wanky, pointless trips, or if they realise how very silly it makes them look. Certainly, in broadcasting, the fact-finding freebie kings were always the most useless people in any organisation. I don't suppose the Tory party is any different. (Labour is different, of course - I'm sure the farewell tour of the Carribean John Prescott made right at the end of his time in office was extremely valuable to Britain and the bemused countries whose national dishes he no doubt puked up in his hotel bog.)

  4. Chill, SDG. I just meant she has a big gob. I - like Ingmar Bergman - have absolutely nothing against big gobs. I was just making sure everyone knew who I was referring to. And it is a big gob, by any standards.

    And yes, Borgen is very well made and enjoyable and fictional and I am already looking forward to the next series. Doesn't stop me wanting to kick the PM character's shapely rump on a regular basis for being such a Liberal fantasy-figure.