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Politics of the playground

Why does British fiction only portray politics as a mean, childish squabble? The BBC4 drama "The Thick of It" bears out an immature tradition

The stand-off between Downing Street and the BBC is well known, as are the scratchy relations with the national press. But now politicians are even starting to get cross with novelists. In a recent essay in the Financial Times magazine, former Europe minister Denis MacShane complained that Jonathan Coe’s The Closed Circle reads like “a kind of unending London Review of Books whine on the events in Britain in the last few years.” MacShane demanded to know why Coe and his contemporaries are incapable of writing about politics: “the very serious use of power undertaken since 1997, the mammoth changes…

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