Nine Lessons Politicians can Learn From 'Game of Thrones'

02/02/2015 13:35 GMT | Updated 03/04/2015 10:59 BST

Somewhere, right now, there is a political spin doctor trying to work out how to jump on the Game of Thrones PR bandwagon. And if there's not, there should be.

This week, the first trailer for Game of Thrones, Season 5 was released. I have been geeking out appropriately, not least because the first episode of the new series airs on April 13th, less than a month before election day. I can't work out which run of political intrigue, backstabbing and mayhem is going to be more thrilling - but either way I can't wait.

Lots of people I know seem far more engaged by Thrones than by UK politics. Ask someone whether they're House Stark or House Targaryen and they're likely to know exactly what you mean, responding with passion and acuity. I'm sure that if House Cameron and House Miliband could get half that action, they'd be absolutely delighted.

The thing is, politicians are getting their priorities all wrong. They're running around photoshopping campaign posters and trying 'out-norm' each other on Question Time - while what they should be doing is sitting down with a pie, some gin and and the Game of Thrones box set.

Here are nine things Thrones can teach politicians about winning an election.


1. Understand that no one is safe

Eddard Stark was the hero of the whole shebang. He had honour, integrity, courage, was nifty with a sword and was played by that bloke off of 'Sharpe'. But he still bought it in a very nasty fashion before Season 1 was over.

No one is safe. That means you, Cameron, Miliband and Clegg. Look to your own seats...

2. Don't break your promises

Robb Stark swore a solemn oath to marry a daughter of his ally, Walder Frey. However, this all went out the window when he met the delicious Talisa Maegyr. He married her, instead, and old Walder wasn't happy.

What with the ensuing throat-slitting, stomach-gouging and decapitation, I think it's fair to say the whole business didn't end well for House Stark.

House Clegg is currently staring into this very abyss, over a little thing called tuition fees.

3. The Hand of the King could wield the knife

Who is the Petyr Baelish in your camp? The ultimate manipulator, by the end of Season 4 he'd screwed over several employers and was well on the way to becoming the most powerful man in the Seven Kingdoms. In short, this guy makes Malcolm Tucker look like Winnie the Pooh.

For goodness sake, don't give any of your special advisors real power over you. Particularly if they start saying things like "chaos is a ladder"...

4. Know what your people actually care about

One of the problems with politics is that many people feel it's entirely irrelevant to them. In a tight spot at the Battle of the Blackwater, Tyrion Lannister showed politicians how it should be done:

"Don't fight for a king. Don't fight for his kingdoms. Don't fight for honor, don't fight for glory, don't fight for riches, because you won't get any. This is your city Stannis means to sack.

That's your gate he's ramming. If he gets in it will be your house that burns... Those are brave men knocking at our door. Let's go kill them!"

Keep it real, keep it relevant, keep it local. That's what's going to win you support, before your ideology, policies, personality, hairstyle or anything else.

5. A single act could redeem you - or your opponent

We hated Jaime Lannister as a black-hearted blaggard. Until, that is, he struck up an unlikely friendship with Brienne of Tarth and rescued her from a roaring mad bear. Using only one hand.

It serves to demonstrate that a single surprising act can redeem you. Just remember that your opponent might pull off the same trick.

Gordon Brown didn't even need to save anyone from a bear. He just gave one rather good speech during the Independence Referendum - and is now being lined up as Labour's 'secret weapon' in the election campaign. Who'd have thunk it?

6. Don't underestimate the little lady

She's had a couple of false starts, but Daenerys Targaryen is coming - and she means business.

She's got a big thing about social justice, she's won great loyalty by vowing to free her followers from their chains - and she's VERY keen to have it out with the south once and for all. Remind you of anyone?

Nicola Sturgeon might not have actual dragons - but she does has Alex Salmond, who scares the Westminster establishment almost as much.

7. It's not over 'til it's over

This one is simple. Until they're dead (politically, that is) your opponents can still squash your head like a watermelon. The Prince of Dorne learnt that the hard way.

8. Don't get caught with your pants down

Tywin Lannister was arguably the greatest politician in the Seven Kingdoms - but he still managed to get himself murdered while on the loo. An undignified way to go, I think you'll agree.

So - either don't peeve anyone so much that they want to bump you off on the bog; or lock the door.

9. And finally - always have a surprise up your sleeve

King's Landing is under siege. Stannis Baratheon's ships are in Blackwater Bay, and House Lannister faces defeat and slaughter. But it's alright - because good old uncle Tyrion has got a little Wildfire mohito for them. They sure as heck didn't expect that.

Good politicians should always have at least one surprise like this up their sleeve. Well, obviously not exactly like this (that might be a bit much) but something that says 'ta da!' when you least expect it. A great big glitter cannon perhaps?

Who do you think are the best and worst politicians in Game of Thones? And what could our own politicians learn from them?

Read more of Serena's article on her blog.