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"I'm sorry that everyone's so jealous of me..but I can't help it that I'm popular!"
"In a minute, he will be looking as awkward as when he ate that bacon sandwich!"
"I love her. She's like a Martian."
"He paused and, with characteristic humility, replied "Because I think I'd be good at it!" Mr. Speaker-where did it all go wrong?"
"Never in my fifteen years as an educator have I seen such behaviour!"
"Order! The House needs to simmer down and take whatever tablets are necessary!"
It might be obvious which of the quotes are from the 2004 teen comedy Mean Girls and which are from various bouts of Prime Minister's Questions. But nevertheless, a surprising amount of similarities have been drawn between the wildly popular Tina Fey movie and the machinations of government officials, whether it's through well-edited trailers or even a dedicated Tumblr page.
While the appeal of mixing up Mean Girls and politicians is pretty obvious-it's more than a little amusing to see Ed Miliband announcing (hopefully with the voice of Amanda Seyfried) "You can't sit with us!"- it's not as though politicians don't provide us with more than enough ammunition. From the feistier exchanges at PMQs to the barbs hurled at each other in interviews, over the last few years it's been easy to see why some of our leading politicians' relationships can be a little too reminiscent of the Hollywood comedy.
To be fair, Mean Girls is basically high-school politics, with wild parties and a Burn Book thrown in. A hilarious trailer currently making the rounds on the Internet depicts a political version of Mean Girls, casting Nick Clegg as the naive newcomer, with Lindsay Lohan's character Cady's initiation into the envied and feared clique the Plastics becoming the formation of the coalition ( with Boris Johnson being amusingly cast as Karen Smith, who believes being psychic is a "fifth sense.")
It's easy to see why politics is reminiscent of high-school cliques and backbiting drama. The last five years of PMQs have produced a few moments-reportedly regretted by both David Cameron and Ed Miliband, though there was never much of a decrease in the schoolboy-like arguments between the two-which sounded less like they belonged in a political debate and more like they were being yelled across a high-school cafeteria (perhaps accompanied by a handy guide drawn by Janis Ian.) "I see the crimson tide is back" Miliband remarked at one stage, at an infuriated Cameron and I was reminded of Cady Heron 's gleeful observation about queen-bee Regina George:" I have this theory that if you shaved off all her hair, she'd look like a British man!" A rather memorable exchange involved one of Cameron's lines to Miliband in their last PMQs debate: "Enough talk about ducks, I'm looking at Alex Salmond's poodle!" You could practically see Janis screaming at Cady from a car: "You're not pretending anymore, buddy, you're Plastic! Cold, shiny, hard Plastic!" And it's almost a little too easy to imagine Ed Miliband, fuming over one of Cameron's insults, reading out Gretchen's infamous English speech:
Humorous as it all is, it could raise the question: are Britain's politics really that petty? During the 2015 campaigns there was controversy about the press's depiction of the leaders, particularly Ed Miliband. With insults such as "Ed Miliband talks to Russell Brand-he is a joke", and Miliband's branding Cameron "chicken", it brought me back to schoolday battles- "Well, they're saying this-" " Well, you tell her from me that-"
Surface-level friendships with rivalries lurking just out of sight? Jovial exchanges one moment, insults hissed the next? Constant power struggles, resulting in being shouted down by a zealous invigilator? (I can't be the only person who half-expects Bercow to one day grab a baton and declare, in an American accent, "I did not leave the South Side for this!" before smashing a fire alarm in the middle of a charged Prime Minister's Questions.)
There's often an instability about politics-a sense of not knowing whether actions are genuine or accompanied by a secret agenda. Everyone knows the depiction of politicians as self-serving, manipulative types looking out for number-one. With the constant insistence from each party that they're the ones on your side, it can feel a bit like conversation with that friend whom you always suspect of talking behind your back. It's reminiscent of the term "frenemies" prevalent in schools these days-superficially charming, moments of shared laughter, but with the battle lines never far from sight. There's a scene in the TV drama Coalition in which Clegg finds his conversation with Gordon Brown interrupted by Cameron, an amusingly awkward moment with the three exchanging pleasantries, trying to ignore the almost possessive undercurrent between them-it was a reminder of those teen-girl trios, where two battle for the favour of one.
When Cameron and Miliband were directly asked for their opinion of one another in the run-up to the election, both denied any personal hatred. "I don't hate him" Miliband immediately insisted, before launching into "But I hate what he stands for. I hate what he's done to the country." Cameron claimed, a little more evasively, "Well-I don't really know him" but later came up with a couple of positive points for Miliband in the live TV debates. (Miliband returned the favour.) Something about the almost-friendly, still-warring tones caused one of my friends to remark, amusingly "God, it's like that couple who make all their friends pick sides in a fight." Personally, I was reminded of Regina George insisting, in sugar-coated tones: "Oh my God, I'm not mad at her. I'm worried about her. I think someone put her name in as a joke or something...Cady, she's not pretty. That sounds mean, but..."
There might be an element of juvenilia in some political exchanges but most of the Mean Girls and politics mash-ups are humorous-as are, admittedly, a lot of PMQs rows. Who can forget Cameron and Miliband's moment of shared humour over Cameron's text messaging?
Regardless, the back-and-forth drama between politicians is unlikely to decrease anytime soon and in the current political climate, perhaps we need all the humour we can get. And who knows-picturing Cameron, Clegg and Miliband setting up their own cafeteria rules and sashaying down a hallway to Missy Elliott might be just what we all need.