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Film / Coalition

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"We agree with Nick!"

Coalition is a 74-minute long televised film by Channel 4, first broadcast on 28th March 2015. It depicts the series of political events following the General Election 2010 which led to the formation of the United Kingdom's first peacetime coalition government. It features lookalikes (of varying quality) for all of the major political figures of the time.

Tropes featured in the film:

  • Above Good and Evil: Gus O'Donnel is the political equivalent; as Cabinet Secretary he doesn't give a damn about part politics, he just wants them to sort out something before the country's economy and global standing completely implode.
  • AstroTurf : Lord Mandelson reveals that the supposed Liberal Democrats protesting against a possible deal with the Tories are actually Labour partisans whom he hired.
  • Batman Gambit: Clegg actually decides to go with the Tories long before he lets either party know his intentions, the plan being that the Lib Dems can get a better deal from the Tories if it looks like they might go with Labour, so they string Labour along for as long as they can. He is indeed able to make terms that are (by the skin of their teeth) acceptable to his own party, but between Mandelson seeing through the ploy and Osborne proving to be a very tough negotiator, it doesn't work as well as hoped.
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  • Cassandra Truth : A variation; the woman who warns Clegg that a coalition with the Tories could destroy the Liberal Democrats forever is taken seriously, but Paddy's speech about how the Lib Dems are actually being taken seriously for the first time convinces people that it's worth the risk.
  • Deal with the Devil: Many Lib Dems have this view of going into Coalition with the Conservatives.
  • Downer Ending : This was broadcast in March 2015, after the final prorogation of the 55th parliament. By this point, the viewer already knows that Nick Clegg's career after the events of this film was a disaster.
  • Early-Bird Cameo : Ed Miliband and Ed Balls briefly appear.
  • Evil Old Folks: The closest the film has to a villain is the leader of the Tories' far right faction, who is very old and very unpleasant, and in charge of similar people.
  • First-Name Basis: All of the characters featured go by first names:
    • David (Cameron)
    • Gordon (Brown)
    • Harriet (Harman)
    • Nick (Clegg)
    • Paddy (Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon)
    • Peter (Lord Mandelson)
  • Foregone Conclusion : Anyone keeping up with politics already knows how it ends.
  • For Want of a Nail: The first meeting with Labour on the prospect of a coalition goes badly due to the Labours not taking the meeting seriously, being poorly prepared for the talks and using body language that ranges from aloof to hostile. When Brown finds out he furiously berates them for it, with Ed Balls protesting that it's not as if history is going to change because of their posture. However, it looks as though that's exactly what may have happened.
  • Funny Background Event : When Gordon Brown is on the phone to Nick Clegg, Mandelson and Harman can be seen frantically writing cue cards. Brown then angrily brushes them away.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop : Cameron worries that the Liberal Democrats will take credit for all the warm cuddly stuff while blaming the Tory party for the spending cuts. Osborne counters that it actually gives the Tories an opportunity to spread the blame; they are expected to be ruthless, whereas the Lib Dems would seem like traitors for going along with anything harsh. Clegg's career in the subsequent years proves him right.
  • Honour Before Reason: Anyone from any party opposed to a coalition gets accused of this, though they do in fact have perfectly valid concerns about the long-term effects a coalition could have on their party's reputation and future chances of being elected. In any case, they eventually get persuaded to come round or get ignored.
  • Insistent Terminology: Harriet Harman has to remind Gordon Brown to call Nick Clegg's party "The Liberal Democrats" instead of just "The Liberals".
  • Kingmaker Scenario : There is a hung parliament, so Brown and Cameron both have to entice the Liberal Democrats into a coalition.
    • Actually name-dropped, when a colleague tries to reassure Clegg that "the kingmaker" may outlast the king.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!" : The reaction of the whole country when they find out there is a hung parliament.
    • Repeated by the Tory/Labour politicians when they realise that Nick Clegg is negotiating with the other party.
    • The Liberal Democrats themselves try to hide this reaction when they read the Treasury statistics.
  • Not So Different : When meeting Nick Clegg, Cameron suggests that Westminster School isn't too different from Eton, suggesting both leaders come from similar backgrounds (as many political commentators have since loved to point out).
  • Precision F-Strike : There are several throughout.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Pretty much everyone is fairly pragmatic and level-headed about the mess, considering it has the potential to ruin their own careers, their parties' future prospects and the national economy if mishandled even slightly. Paddy Ashdown stands out as the most quietly dedicated of them all, however.
  • Smug Snake: Everything about Mandelson's demeanour throughout the film makes it clear that he's totally confident of coming out of this mess with his own career being perfectly solid. That said, his stunt with the AstroTurf above and his seeing through the Lib Dems' Batman Gambit suggests that he really is as clever as he thinks he is.
  • Succession Crisis : The hung parliament means nobody is quite sure who ought to be Prime Minister. Gus O'Donnell is horrified when Gordon Brown announces his resignation (before any coalition deal has been reached), saying that Brown has a constitutional duty to remain in office until a successor can be decided upon.
  • The Great Politics Mess-Up : Perhaps not on a global scale, but it was a shocking turn of events for people in Britain.
  • The Voiceless : Sarah Brown and Samantha Cameron are seen but they never speak.
  • We ARE Struggling Together : Coalition negotiations lead to substantial infighting among different factions of each of the three parties.


Example of: