When the camera panned up in the AC-12 interview room to reveal that a bumbling, shambling, clueless, incompetent and badly dressed idiot of a man was in fact a secret criminal genius who had ridden all the way to the top of a vast network of corruption, it did not take long for Line of Duty fans to suggest that the life and work of Detective Superintendent Ian Buckells was a grand allegory for the life and work of Boris Johnson.
It’s plausible enough, but here’s the thing. The somewhat sotto voce nature of the grand climax heavily intimates that another series is on the way, and this one, if it lands upon the truth, will blow our tiny minds. What if the real ‘H’, the real nine-dimensional chess maestro, the real dictator of evil terms all along, was David Cameron?
We are, quite possibly, a matter of hours away from a set of election results that will lock the country’s clear anti-Tory majority into the most epic of stalemates, and it is the grinning, shepherd hut-dwelling, kid-in-pub-leaving, utterly ruthless mastermind Cameron that’s done it.
A few flashbacks
The teenage Nicola Sturgeon is wandering about Irvine in the febrile air of the middle Thatcher years. Her politics are crystallising and they have not changed in the 35 years since. Scotland was not doing very well out of Tory government, and it was, to her, an outrage that Scotland should be governed by Tories it had not voted for.
She is a formidable politician, but not as formidable as our dish-faced antichrist (bear with me). Here we are, today, three and a half decades on, awaiting some significant election results from Holyrood.
Current polling suggests that the likelihood of a pro-independence majority in the Holyrood elections on Thursday is too close to call. It may creep over the line. It may fall just short. The closeness strongly intimates it will not be easy, even with that majority, to legislate for an independence referendum. And it is even less clear whether such a referendum would be victorious.
Cameron, naturally, saw all this coming. By bequeathing Scotland its first referendum but not letting it win, and then holding a second EU referendum and deliberately losing (more on that later), he has trapped Nicola Sturgeon in her own personal hell. Scotland sufficiently geed up on nationalism to allow the SNP to supplant Labour, but not sufficiently geed up to actually achieve independence. Scotland, condemned to perpetual government by Tories, and all Nicola Sturgeon’s fault.
And so to England. Hartlepool eventually, but another little flashback first. The young David Cameron, swanking about in tails, first at Eton, then at Oxford. It is no secret that the young Cameron was a devout Eurosceptic. Friends of Cameron, Johnson and Gove have been known to testify that, not all that long ago, Cameron was the most EU-loathing of them all.
(When the grand series finale comes, viewers will kick themselves at the clues. The 755-page autobiography from which emerges a raging Eurosceptic somehow fronting a campaign to remain in the EU was always there, hiding in plain sight, if only anybody had read it. He was also famously once asked why he wanted to be prime minister and replied, “Because I think I’d be really good at it.” Only a genius in very deep cover as a cretin could ever possibly come out with such a thing.)
So much is made of the Boris and Dave rivalry, the apparent mutual loathing, that viewers might also be inclined not to have read, for example, Boris Johnson’s many 2005 newspaper columns backing his old Bullingdon pal for the Tory leadership. It’s crystal clear, in hindsight, that the grand plan was formed somewhere around this point.
I’ll go first. I’ll do the referendum, but do a crap “renegotiation” first, then run an embarrassment of a Remain campaign. I lose. You win. We’re out of the EU and in power forever. Everyone thinks I’m an idiot. I go and work for that Australian who reckons he’ll give me £50m if you let him pay the NHS’s bills for them a few days early. No, I know, I don’t understand it either, but just do what he says.
Sorry, yes, and so to Hartlepool. Through the ingenious prism of Brexit, the Tories manage to convince Labour’s old heartlands to turn their backs on the Labour establishment who have always ignored and neglected them and taken them for granted, and vote instead for the party that really has always ignored and neglected them, but suddenly newly alive with a bit of Brexit-induced flag waving national pride.
The writers are currently toying with whether or not to include the bit in which a deadly pandemic is deliberately allowed to run riot, before it is curtailed by a life-saving vaccine rollout ingeniously tied to the Brexit cause. Current thinking is that it’s just too far-fetched, even though it’s real.
In the graffiti-covered underpass the two big guns meet for a conflab. The situation is bleak. Labour banjaxed by one referendum north of the border, and banjaxed by a second one south of it. The SNP the same, they just haven’t quite worked it out yet. Starmer speaks first.
I’m screwed with him. You’re screwed without him. Nobody wants him and we can’t get rid of him. How have they done this to us? Someone’s behind all this, but who?
We cut to a wide shot in open desert. A luxury bedouin tent and a roaring fire. Two men sit cross-legged beside it, laughing to themselves and dressed somewhat bizarrely in lounge suits.
They take everyone for mugs, that lot. But who’s the mug now?