Spin

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Tony Williams
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Spin

Post by Tony Williams » Mon Jan 18, 2016 11:38 am

There's a good French political thriller (subtitled) on More4 at the moment (Friday evenings). All about the dirty tricks involved in campaigning for the French presidency, with their equivalents of Lynton Crosby in starring roles.

Don't know why they called it "Spin", though - the translation of the French title is something like "Men in the Shadows".

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Re: Spin

Post by Tony.Williams » Sun Apr 16, 2017 8:40 pm

Third series just starting.

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Re: Spin

Post by Tony.Williams » Mon Apr 24, 2017 3:23 am

Spent a rather surreal evening, mostly following the French presidential election contest, interrupted by catching up with the second episode of Spin, all about the devious behind-the-scenes battles during a French presidential election contest. I have to say that the plot of Spin seemed in some ways rather more realistic than what's going on in the real world!

It really is a very good series; intelligent and with lots of twists, turns and shocks. Fully up there with Line of Duty in quality.

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chaggle
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Re: Spin

Post by chaggle » Mon Apr 24, 2017 8:08 am

Will try to catch it but it'll have to wait until Line of Duty has finished - my ageing brain can't handle two of those at the same time - and also don't forget who pushed Ken Barlow down the stairs - shocking stuff.

Anyway I gather the French election went according to expectations with Macron and Le Pen going through and Macron expected to win the next round in May.

I haven't been following it closely - am I right to summarise it as unsurprising, a bit of a relief and a return to sanity after recent poll results?
Don't blame me - I voted remain :con

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Re: Spin

Post by Tony.Williams » Mon Apr 24, 2017 9:12 am

chaggle wrote: I haven't been following it closely - am I right to summarise it as unsurprising, a bit of a relief and a return to sanity after recent poll results?
Well, not really. There are two long-established major parties in France, one left-of-centre, one right-of-centre (their names have kept changing so it's difficult to keep track), roughly equivalent to Labour and Conservative in the UK, and ever since the Fifth Republic was established in 1958 the President has come from one of these two parties. In fact, I think that on all but one occasion it was the candidates from both major parties who got through to the second-round decider (unless one candidate wins more than 50% of the vote, the top two in the first round go through to the final in two weeks). The one well-known exception was when Jean Le Pen, Marine's father, got through in 2002 - but he was wiped out in the final.

What has happened this time is that both of the finalists are from minor parties: Marine Le Pen from the National Front, and Emmanuel Macron who barely has anything resembling a party - he created his own last year. This is roughly equivalent to a contest to decide who runs the UK being between Paul Nuttall of UKIP and some unknown independent from no party but with Lib Dem sympathies.

The French centre-right candidate, Fillon, was the favourite at one time but came third. He was dogged by accusations of fraud, namely that he claimed a high state salary for employing his wife, but she didn't do anything for it (apparently they all do this, but he was targeted for it). The official centre-left candidate, Hamon, had a disaster, coming fifth with only about 6% of the vote. An independent, charismatic very-left-winger (Melenchon) came fourth with about three times as many votes.

The reaction from France is partly relief that it could have been much worse, the Doomsday scenario being Le Pen vs Melenchon - interestingly, many of their policies are very similar despite being from opposite ends of the political spectrum. Both of them dislike the EU and the Euro and are anti-globalists, so either of them winning would have been very bad for the EU and relegated Brexit to a trivial sideshow.

It is assumed that although the pro-EU Macron should win comfortably in a fortnight's time (both major parties are backing him), Le Pen will pick up some of Fillon's votes - and even quite a few of Melenchon's - so it's not an entirely foregone conclusion. But then, what is these days?

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chaggle
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Re: Spin

Post by chaggle » Mon Apr 24, 2017 9:29 am

Great - useful summary.

So - surprising in that he is new - a new party - but a relief provided he goes on to win?
Don't blame me - I voted remain :con

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Re: Spin

Post by Tony.Williams » Mon Apr 24, 2017 11:35 am

chaggle wrote: So - surprising in that he is new - a new party - but a relief provided he goes on to win?
Certainly relief among the governing class (and most of the population) if it's him rather than Le Pen, but it's a qualified relief - people are not really sure what he will do, and there remains the question of how he will get his policies through the French equivalent of Parliament/Congress if he has no party representation there. France seems to be in for a politically rocky ride even with Macron.

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Re: Spin

Post by Tony.Williams » Sun May 21, 2017 10:08 am

The third season of Spin has just finished on More4: very good, like the first two. A brief summary follows:

The principal character in all three series is Simon Kapita, the head of his own public relations company, who gets involved in working for presidential candidates and then the president. His role is similar to that of Alastair Campbell in the Blair government, but it seems to be his company which is employed, rather than him as an individual. Unlike Campbell (and even more unlike the fictional Malcolm Tucker) Kapita is low-key and discreet, and works behind the scenes. He is a likeable character, popular with the press corps.

There are plenty of underhand shenanigans from Kapita's rivals and the politicians they are working for, and also various complications in Kapita's private life (as well as problems with a high-profile and bipolar political wife he has to manage). All in all, this is one of the best foreign language series I've ever seen and fascinating in what it reveals about the way the French political system works at the highest level - not something we normally hear much about.

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