3 January 1966
"The Politician". Writer John Bowen. Director David Reid
“Why be an MP when you can buy one for tuppence?” Sir John Wilder
Caswell Bligh (Clifford Evans) makes a bid to be selected as a Labour candidate in a local election, the first step in his vision of becoming a Minister for Motorways. For both Wilder and Ken Bligh, the prospect of Caswell being immersed in politics removes an obstacle to their own plans for Bligh Construction.
With Harold Wilson’s Labour government over a year into office, John Bowen’s script takes Bligh through the selection process as a Labour party candidate in the suburban town of Fairmile, which has recently been brought to a standstill by traffic problems. According to Ken Bligh, his father has been waiting to be asked to take up a Government post and has only just realised that he needs to enter politics.
Ken admits that he would like to see his father’s energies diverted away from Bligh Construction and points out to Wilder that, “He’d have to resign from the National Export Board as soon as he’s adopted.”
Wilder has come to the conclusion that Bligh has only taken a strong interest in the export market in order to keep investment in overseas business down. Having Bligh tied up with politics would suit Wilder who assumes that Bligh would stand as a Conservative and offers to pull strings at Central Office. When Ken says he didn’t know he supported the Tory Party, Wilder replies, “I have no politics, only friends.”
In fact, Caswell Bligh has retained Labour Party membership for 35 years and claims to have known Nye Bevan. He lunches with Jack Wigan (Martin Boddey), a Labour MP who sees the benefits of having a leader of the construction industry standing as an MP in the marginal seat of Fairmile. As the Labour Party is in Government, it is attractive to Bligh’s ambitions.
The episode introduces Rachel Herbert (Number 58 in the “Free For All” episode of “The Prisoner) as Ken’s wife Justine. An elegant wife and mother, Justine is also unafraid to demonstrate a sharp intellect. When Ken says Bligh had been hoping to achieve his Transport Ministry ambitions by being made a Lord she retorts, “They don’t let an important Ministry like that go to the Lords. Why else do they give up their titles?” It is Justine, defying her husband’s ambitions, who explains the political realities to Bligh and makes him realise that he would be out of his depth as a politician.
A strong cast includes Ewan Hooper ( Dracula Has Risen From the Grave and Hunters Walk) as Alderman Hall, leader of the local Labour party, Martin Boddey (Joan Collins’ hapless husband in “Tales From the Crypt”) as Jack Wigan MP, James Bree as Davis the Labour Party agent, and John Abineri as one of Bligh’s rivals in the selection process.
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