Winter is coming: politics and Game of Thrones – Telegraph Blogs

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James Kirkup

James Kirkup is The Telegraph's Executive Editor (Politics). He was previously the Telegraph's Political Editor and has worked at Westminster since 2001.

Winter is coming: politics and Game of Thrones

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I’m almost embarrassed by how great I think this is. It’s a video of Frans Timmermans, the Dutch foreign minister, speaking at a recent Google Zeitgeist conference about contemporary Europe.

So far, so dull. But Mr Timmermans isn’t just talking about Europe, he’s talking about Game of Thrones. George RR Martin’s zillion-page, multi-season stabbing-and-shagging epic, he says, is a key text for understanding political, economic and social issues in the Old World today.

I won’t attempt to summarise his entire argument, and I don’t agree with all of it. Probably the most important point is telling Europe: winter is coming, so you can either lie down and accept change, or you can fight.

There are two reasons for highlighting this. Partly, I admire the attempt to explain big, important issues in terms of books and TV that real people, people not obsessed with politics, might actually recognise. It’s a refreshing change from the normal attempts to “connect”, which usually come down to politicians bolting clunky references to football or boxsets onto their stump speeches and lines-to-take.

There are far too few politicians who do what Mr Timmermans does here and actually weave popular culture references into their arguments and explanations. Precious few of us who write about politicians can do it either: Rachel Sylvester is an honourable and enviable exception. Maybe, just maybe, more Timmermanses and Sylvesters would lead to more public engagement with politics.

That’s the high-minded reason for showing you this video. The other one is much more juvenile, which is to invite my learned readers (and Tom Chivers) to take part in a British politics-as-GoT game, in which we amuse ourselves (if no-one else) by comparing politicians to characters.

You knorr nuthing, Jon Snoarr

You knurr nuthing, Jon Snurr

Here’s a start:

David Cameron – Jon Snow
(Prettyboy son of a great house, never accepted as legitimate and still struggling to prove himself to his kin.)

Nick Clegg – Eddard Stark
(Noble/pious leader who does his duty. Comes to a bad end as a result.)

Ed Miliband – Renly Baratheon
(Challenges his brother’s claim to the crown. Comes to a bad end as a result.)

Nigel Farage – Mance Rayder
(Dispruptive demagogue out to tear down the old order, and put on over on his former brothers.)

I have every confidence that you can do better. I’ll happily update this blog when better and funnier suggestions come in.

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