Fisking Dr Who
Cranmer does not go in for the derogatory term ‘luvvie’. And he utterly deplores the even more derisory term ‘Labour luvvie’, not least because he has never heard anyone talk of ‘Tory Luvvies’, which is not simply a matter of an alliterative lack but also of the reality that they may be, pace Leslie Crowther and Jim Davidson, an endangered species.
Actors are, by and large, some of the most affable, intelligent, discerning and sentient creatures on the planet. They grapple daily with a myriad of intense human emotions and bare their souls night after night for the whole world to see, and the vast majority do it for a pecuniary pittance or nothing at all: it is their vocation, their raison d’être: their whole purpose in life is to hold a mirror up to nature, to show virtue her feature, scorn her own image, and the very age and body of the time its form and pressure.
But David Tennant has ventured into the realm of the political and urged people not to vote Conservative, warning that life under David Cameron would be a ‘terrifying prospect’ for the future of Britain.
It is not his political opinion with which Cranmer takes issue, for an opinion is just an opinion, and in a representative democracy, or the façade of such, everyone is entitled to one.
But when that opinion is communicated in a fashion which purports to enlist the unparalleled genius of William Shakespeare to its narrow and partisan cause, Cranmer feels morally obliged to fervently and ferociously fisk, not least because there is nothing that David Tennant does not know about either Hamlet or King Lear which Cranmer has not tortured his soul in the consideration and contemplation thereof a thousand times, and all while Mr Tennant was in nappies and mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
In an emotionally charged interview, Tennant said: "Clearly, the Labour Party is not without some issues right now and I do get frustrated. They need to sort some stuff out, but they're still a better bet than the Tories.
Labour have some issues, do they? You mean a crisis of leadership? An irreparably divided Cabinet? A vacuum of ideas? A dearth of initiative? Backbench revolts? Fiscal incontinence? A bloated public sector? Recession? Soaring unemployment? Increasing levels of poverty? A resurgent BNP? An unprecedented national debt of £2,000,000,000,000?
They do indeed need to sort some stuff out, but they have had 14 years to do so. During that time, they have squandered the nation’s wealth, started an illegal war on a false premise, bequeathed a disastrous banking system, widened the gap between the ‘rich’ and the ‘poor’, and they show absolutely no sign at all of being able to ‘sort this stuff out’.
I would rather have Gordon Brown than David Cameron. I would rather have a Prime Minister who is the cleverest person in the room than a Prime Minister who looks good in a suit.
Where is the evidence that Gordon Brown is the cleverest person in the room’? Did he earn a first class degree? Certainly, he has a doctorate, but it was concerned with some obscure person in the history of Socialism which falls under the aegis of modern history. David Cameron has a first class degree in the rather more relevant areas of politics, philosophy and economics. His professor at Brasenose, Vernon Bogdanor, described David Cameron as ‘one of the ablest students I have taught’ in his 30 years at Oxford. Has any scholar spoken of Gordon Brown in such glowing terms?
And as for looking good in a suit, consider the time that the Conservative Party was led by William Hague and Labour by Tony Blair. Who then was the cleverest person in the room? Who then looked good in a suit?
In a televisual age, there is nothing to be derided about looking good in a suit. After all, Mr Tennant, you reportedly spent an age choosing the elements of your Dr Who costume which would define your persona: have you not heard that the costume can create the character? Perhaps you should go back to your Stanislavski.
I think David Cameron is a terrifying prospect. I think he's a regional newsreader who will jump on whatever bandwagon flies past. I get quite panicked that people are buying his rhetoric, because it seems very manipulative.
Where have you been for the past 14 years? Have you even heard of Alastair Campbell? Have you smelled Peter Mandelson? Are you familiar with the concept of ‘spin’? Who popularised it? Who infused it into the British political system?
And as for buying into rhetoric, Oh, Mr Tennant, you are an actor, and one might expect that an actor would understand that in politics the performance is all. Politics without rhetoric is like theatre without words. Mime has its place, but it is hardly the most effective means of human communication.
A regional newsreader? Is this some expression of professional snobbery? Is it because you are now a national television celebrity and playing Shakespeare on the West End that you pour scorn upon the regions? Did you not begin in some regional repertory theatre?
Jumping on whatever bandwagon flies past? You mean like Tony Blair? Like Gordon Brown? Like every politician is compelled to do because politics is about ‘events’? Do Labour politicians not jump on every bandwagon? Did Tony Blair not bend with the strongest wind? Did he not deceive Parliament and the nation of the grounds for the war with Iraq? Has he not admitted doing so?
And if David Cameron is a ‘terrifying prospect’, another four years of Gordon Brown will bring such things – what they are, yet His Grace knows not: but they shall be the terrors of the earth. You think he’ll weep, no, he’ll not weep: He has full cause of weeping; but this heart shall break into a hundred thousand flaws, or ere he’ll weep. O fool, His Grace shall go mad!
It's weird that you can work in the arts - which tends to be about empathy and understanding and, hopefully, feeling some kind of sympathy for your fellow man - and vote Tory. I find that inconceivable.
Your ignorance of Conservative philosophy is alarming. It is a poor thing in an actor to show such narrow perception. Conservatism has always been concerned with the plight of the poor. Disraeli’s ‘One-Nation’ theme expressed an acute concern for the underprivileged which was to have an enduring conservative appeal. And he made great gains in the most impoverished urban areas. He introduced public health bills, factory acts, education reforms and slum clearance initiatives which won praise even from the trade unions (which he legitimised). The tradition was continued under Baldwin, Churchill, Macmillan and Thatcher: the Conservative Party’s concern for the needy and underprivileged is evident for those who have eyes to see.
I still don't get it when you meet actors who buy the Daily Telegraph and talk about this terrible wave of immigrants. You just think, where did that come from? Have you read King Lear? Have you read Hamlet?
O, please. Are you saying that King Lear and Hamlet support Labour’s policy on immigration? They are magisterial works – Lear the finest in the English language – which are concerned with statecraft. They are tales of power and how to keep it; politics and how to play it; love and how to lose it; family and how to nurture it; the social order and how to sustain it. Immigration? Norway invading Denmark? The poor naked wretches, wheresoe'er they are? If you believe these works articulate a Socialist understanding of the state, with enormous respect, you are a fool. If there is anything for 'Labour luvvies' to glean from these plays it is that omnipotent rulers can go mad: they can lose their kingdoms to traitors; those who appear to be friends and allies are not; and that ambition, revenge, pride, arrogance and procrastination destroy people, corrode society and imperil national sovereignty.
And why stop with Lear and Hamlet? Have you read Richard II or Henry IV parts one and two? Have you not considered that they are imbued with the greatest Tory theme of the nature of kingship? They talk of divine right, anointed leadership and of nature's hierarchical social order. Or is it that you simply do not know what Tory philosophy is beyond your mindless parroting of the garbage of The Guardian?
That will do for now. But it is to be observed that David Tennant appeared in a 2005 Labour party political broadcast: his allegiance is known, and he is being wheeled out in a moment of crisis just like they deploy Tony Robinson, Michael Cashman, Stephen Fry, JK Rowling, Bob Geldof... all of whom are not beyond a sentence or two of manipulative rhetoric.
David Tennant is just one Scottish son of the manse supporting another Scottish son of the manse.
But Cranmer has an idea:
If America can have a Terminator as a state governor, why can Britain not have a Time Lord as an MP?
Go on, David, why don’t you stand for Parliament? Let us see how bright you really are.
Or is it that you just look good in a suit?