Arguably one of the biggest reasons why HBO TV series Game of Throne rose to the top was for its accurate portrayal of politics. It tells the tale of two ambitious and rivalling houses – Lannisters and Starks – which upon further reflection can be recognised as the Lancasters and the Yorks. After all, Game of Thrones author Geroge R.R. Martin has admitted to being inspired by the War of the Roses.
But its political link seems to have shifted to a more modern setting, with sites having famously likened each of the great houses to Britain’s current political parties.
One of the most famous comparisons surfaced ahead of the 2015 general election, when Chanel 4 TV presenter Jon Snow created a video that would explain who the candidates were to Americans. Of course, he did so using Game of Thrones as a reference.
The Conservatives were likened to the Lannisters, while the Labour party was suggested to be the house of Stark. At the same time, Natalie Bennett was portrayed as the Khaleesi of the Dorthraki, Daenerys Targaryen, and UKIP’s Nigel Farage as Walder Frey.
The image seems to have stuck, with Tim Collins, chairman of Bell Pottinger Political having written that it was most fitting that the global premier of Games of Thrones’ fifth season was held at the Tower of London – just down the river of Westminster, where George Osborne delivered his sixth Budget at the same time.
He said: “Osborne knows that the Conservatives are seen by many as Lannisters – using the veneer of charm provided by a privileged Southern childhood to mask an essentially devious, ruthless, self-interested, and dangerous nature. It is no coincidence that the actor Charles Dance, now globally renowned as the head of the Lannister family, has played many a Conservative politician in his time.”
Osborne would actually really like to be a Stark though, Collins claimed, suggesting that the chancellor wanted to be seen as honest, straight-talking, tough but always fair, and ultimately dedicated to the cause of the North. So there was much in the Budget on 18 March about the pursuit of fairness – something Collins suggested to voters would mean making someone else pay more so that they personally can pay less.
Pensions relief for top earners was cut back, so that allowances for the low paid could be increased. The so-called Google tax would stop “abuses”, and a further jump in the bank levy will be used to pay for additional air ambulances and greater tax relief for charities. These are but a few things he unveiled.
Read more about the 2015 Budget:
- UK Business leaders divided on contents of George Osborne’s speech
- Full transcript of George Osborne’s speech
- To see a continued recovery, the UK needs a turnaround in productivity
At the same time, he suggested that for the Budget, as in Game of Thrones, dark and unknown forces were massing. Crucially, he was right. The looming Grexit is but one of the issues that could Britain “at risk” as the news has put it. Russia seems to be developing a fleet of mini-submarines, whereby Britain’s defences were given £2bn to counter the threat, with Andrew Parker, director-general of MI5 having warned in January that Britain could potentially face “Paris-style” attacks.
Furthermore, although Britain’s economy is recovering from the crisis, it is still vulnerable to factors such as the rising pound, the current account deficit, the Greek debt crisis, the domestic housing crisis, and the sharp falls in international bond markets, to name a few.
And let’s not forget Britain’s much-debated productivity levels – expected to be discussed during the emergency Budget.
However, Scottish comedian Frankie Boyle has said: “The emergency budget, we’re assured, will turn us into ‘One Nation’. Unfortunately that nation is Greece.”
George Osborne has already achieved a lot as chancellor – for example, his “Lannister-style” cuts are so inhumane that dystopian sci-fi now only has to be set 18 months in the future, Boyle suggested.
“To us he seems to be firmly House Lannister, if you overlook his terrible record on debt, but the true horror of Osborne is that he is actually one of the more human faces in the Conservative parliamentary party,” he said. “He doesn’t even have that penetrating delivery that upperclass English people evolved to make themselves heard over musket fire and the screams of dying foreigners.”
The Tories are obviously attuned to word choice, which is why they gave us a couple of months’ notice of their emergency budget, he suggested. So why do they feel so sanguine about the ubiquity of “austerity”? This isn’t austerity; it’s a transfer of assets from public to private ownership.
He added: “One of the main advantages of the word ‘austerity’ is that it suggests a gradual process, when, much like the Lannisters, we are caught under the wheels of a chariot.”
We live in a society that doesn’t even care to address the fact that the planet is dying, Boyle claimed. Established attitudes cover a narrow spectrum from survival being less important than growth to climate change being a hoax.
“Suggesting what?” he said. “That the crafty international scientific community has got together to talk down the value of beachfront property?”
Essentially, he is of the belief that this is a budget that will result in people with disabilities dying, not as an unfortunate side-effect, but as a direct consequence of a system that is empirically indifferent to life.
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