Politics, fiction and the Islamic State

An organisation in the Middle East is currently earning adverse publicity by cutting people’s heads off. I have yet to meet anyone who thinks this is a good idea. The usual reaction is revulsion, and I go along with that.

Particularly prone to revulsion are some of our politicians, who make their feelings very clear and, in so doing, believe they are speaking for the rest of us. Which, in most cases, they are – though some adherents of Islam can be found not only expressing their support but going over there to lend a knife or axe.

But here’s a strange thing. Several of the politicians I have heard expressing their revulsion also admit to being fans of Game of Thrones. Now whether they are genuine fans I have no way of knowing. I can think of occasions where politicians have claimed to like singers or groups, the suspicion being that their choices better reflected a desire to be ‘of the people’, to have ‘the common touch’, than music which they actually liked. In this pursuit some have even gone so far as to eat a bacon sandwich for the cameras or give two pennies to a beggar.

Which takes me back to Game of Thrones. (Don’t ask me how, but this is fantasy, right?) Some politicians may claim to like this series knowing it to be popular with the voting public, but others clearly like it for itself. One of these is Michael Gove, until recently education minister in England. (By this I mean England only: his writ did not run in other parts of the UK.) Here is the great man in action. Prepare to be inspired.


I haven’t the faintest idea what he’s talking about, but maybe you do. Anyway, my wife and I (cara sposa) were given a box set of Game of Thrones last Christmas by our son. About a month ago we watched the first of this series and knew it wasn’t for us. But this first episode was enough to show that the politicians who express such revulsion at heads being cut off in Syria and Iraq can live with it happily when it occurs in the first episode of Game of Thrones. I didn’t keep count, but at least two heads were removed from their necks in the first episode. So politicians who like this show must take the view, if they think about it at all, that there is no connection of any sort between real life and fiction.

Which may indicate several things, one of which might be that politics is itself a branch of fiction.

And now I come to think of it, politics is absent from the list of genres currently infesting the writing websites, though I can think of quite a few political novels, starting with Coningsby by Benjamin Disraeli. I feel a campaign to include it coming on, a relevant hashtag or two.

Line drawing of Disraeli

Line drawing of Disraeli (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Not that Game of Thrones started this unsavoury subject. I give you the Queen of Hearts, in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. ‘Off with their heads.’

If it’s in ‘Alice’ it must be alright.