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EDITIONS
Monday, 11 November, 2002, 10:14 GMT
The Project: Your views
Matthew Macfadyen in The Project
The Project goes behind the scenes of New Labour
The two-part television drama The Project is set in the world of politics, offering a look behind the scenes of New Labour.

The show, set against the backdrop of real events, charts the rise of three people involved with the party - including a political adviser and a spin doctor - over a period of nine years.

"Anyone who was around at Westminster for the decade covered in the film, will be very familiar with these vignettes of life at the heart of The Project," wrote BBC News Online political correspondent Nyta Mann.

But what do you think?

Is an effective political drama? Or just another run-of-the-mill look behind the scenes in politics?

Have your say

What an intense political drama..... And that was just the first part!
Stuart Robbins, England

I think that The Project confirms what most people suspect of New Labour; that they will continue to resort to any level of dirty tricks, subterfuge and control freakery to hold on to power.
Bob, UK

I thought the programme was brilliant and I'm looking forward to the conclusion this evening.
Sheila Williams, UK

My mother was heavily involved with New Labour around the time of their rise to government in 1997 so it's interesting to see what was going on behind the scenes while she was busy pushing leaflets through doors and plastering posters all over town.
Jennifer, Netherlands

Refreshing, an eye opener into the the murky world of New Labour and spin

Marco, UK
It was like watching paint dry - a hideously literal approach which defines the worst kind of auntie-ish drama. Maybe the writers/director were trying to find some distance from - say - Primary Colors, but they would have done much better to have focused on a shorter, more intense period and drawn the story from that rather than trying to tell everything.
Steve, UK

When did the BBC go from government funded to government controlled?
Philip Frampton, England

Trash! Anything to with New Labour is utter trash!
R. Steward, Great Britain

All spin ... no delivery ... enough said.
JS, UK

The first part was an interesting insight into the machinations of the New Labour party? I do not, however, believe the Conservative Party Central Office is much different.
Jonathan Gill, UK

It shows just how far Mr Blair has taken us, and is prepared to go, to maintain supreme control.
M Joyce, UK

Hardly cutting edge stuff. No surprises, no tension, way too long and entirely predictable

John Cooper, UK
I really enjoyed it last night. Refreshing, an eye opener into the the murky world of New Labour and spin. Only the BBC would have the clout to make such a good programme! Makes me feel happy paying my TV licence. Good job!!
Marco, UK

Very enjoyable viewing but not particularly hard-hitting in my view. Not much in the way of scene setting for the previous "Thatcher years" - for instance no reference to events such as the poll-tax riots.

Overall worth the licence fee ! But shows how tame our politics really are in comparison to our cousins across the pond. Witness the recent senatorial race with a Vietnam veteran (Dem) who lost THREE LIMBS in the conflict being branded unpatriotic by his (Rep) opponent !!
Steve Cogan, UK

I watched it. It was very slow and lacked any pace. My wife and I will probably not watch the second part. I believe it probably potrayed what happens in most political parties. They are a mixture of many ideas and types. I expect Ian Duncan Smith is seeing this right now.
Bob Downes, U.K.

Most enjoyable. I like the important themes it is exploring.
Simon, London

Very bitty - a good deal of background knowledge required

Christine Kirkby, UK
Hardly cutting edge stuff. No surprises, no tension, way too long and entirely predictable. We all knew that all this stuff went on - who was it aimed at? If there is anyone left in the country who didn't know that that was what New Labour was like then they certainly wouldn't have been interested in watching the programme in the first place! I could have written the script.
Jon Cooper, UK

Well it sure confirms my worst fears about New Labour and why I along with many thousands have lost interest in politics and politicians. It is without doubt second only to accountancy (corporate auditing) in the league of disreputable occupations right now.
M Stageman, England

A mish mash. I will not be watching the second episode.
Steve Mitchell, UK

Very bitty - a good deal of background knowledge required. Characters hard to distinguish - Tory friend/Brown acolyte.
Christine Kirkby, UK

Everything that I suspected New Labour were up to, they were indeed behind. When Labour were crying "sleaze" they were up to their armpits in mud, throwing it at Conservatives. The cynicism, the pursuit of power for its own sake, the bullying of the media and the internal fighting were all wonderfuly put across. At last New Labour laid bare.
Ian McCord, Leeds, UK

This was just a poor man's copy of the West Wing

Paul Wenderling, UK
Very tame. Have they been warned off showing the real story behind the spin?
David Mellor, UK

Just another piece of formulaic BBC multicultural, feminist, Blairite propoganda. Ugh.
Michael S, UK

Pretty dull and boring - where was the meat, this was just the bystanders and second league players.
Ro Watson, UK

I don't know about the Labour Party, but I found the programme rather dull and difficult to follow at times.
Chris, UK

Perhaps this was fine for anyone around in Westminster but for ordinary punters like me, it was simply bad TV, jumping around so much I didn't know where I was, and I turned it off half way through. I certainly won't bother to watch tonight. Lightweight and very poorly presented.
David Meikle, England

This was just a poor man's copy of the West Wing, where was the originality in it ?
Paul Wenderling, UK

An attempt at portraying real events would have far more impact and far more interest

Ken Brown, England
A great piece of fictional drama. Pure entertainment, just enough "chicanery", not to make it too far fetched.
Ken Astill, England

While we continue to be fascinated by raking over the entrails of our recent history, derivative programmes like The Project will continue to be made. It wasn't so much the subject, which was uninteresting, as the recherche stagnant script, which wasted the available acting talent on show; most significantly Naomie Harris, who is on the cusp of fame. More current affairs please, less re-writing of history, thank you.
Shahab Mossavat, UK

Excellent so far (half way). No doubt every party acts like this though!
Paul, UK

I will never get that 1h 45mins back. Just what goes through your minds when you commission this rubbish?
Matthew Bailey, UK

Tosh, and misleading tosh at that. An attempt at portraying real events would have far more impact and far more interest.
Ken Brown, England

The Project depicts a certain party so corrupted by the pursuit of power and control that it has become quite evil. How very accurate.
Alexander, United Kingdom

Pretty dated in terms of its directorial style (just how many jerky hand-held cameras can we take?) it nevertheless did the job intended: exposing the chilling ethical vacuum at the heart of "New" Labour.

Two obvious criticisms: predictably, it portrayed the BBC as far more impartial than it really is and its criticisms of The Project were entirely from a Left perspective.

Some connection there, maybe? Surely not!
G. Cooper, UK

The first half of The Project showed very well how easily altruism becomes corrupted into a desire for power for its own sake; it demonstrated how, to use an old-fashioned word, honorable men and women will always fall foul of the ruthless self-aggrandisement of the dishonorable element; and worst of all, it all felt horribly familiar.

We are asked to vote for the product of these machinations, and yet they don't appear to realise that we are on to them - that's the most insulting thing!

One thing the programme failed to convey was the sheer joy, elation and relief that the "nightmare years" were over at last (and I'm a Lib Dem!). This leads me to believe that they will also fail to capture the enormity of the sense of betrayal that people are now experiencing.
Fran, UK

A very cynical, dark, almost frightening look at politics....just what any good political drama should be

D Bourne, Wales
I thought that this was a fascinating insight into the New Labour machine in action. It really makes you realise how effectively Labour managed the election and the lead-up to it, and how all of the spin which we know is integral to Labour was used ruthlessly - the Tories had no chance against all of that. Labour certainly came a long way between 1992 and 1997.
Greg, UK

Didn't live up to the billing and was a pretty poor over-hyped run-of-the-mill sunday night drama. Try harder next time. How about a dramatisation of this butler Paul Burrell affair - now that could be interesting.
John Brownlee, England

How do we mortals know if The Project is realistic? We were not there. All we know is what we see on TV or read in the papers. The only people who can comment on the accuracy of the programme are those who it is about.
Alex, England

Pure and simple - it was no West Wing.
Robert, UK

I can imagine that's what actually happend behind the scenes in "New Labour". Blair's no better than anything else. In fact I think he's a lot worse...
Paul Taylor, UK

A very cynical, dark, almost frightening look at politics....just what any good political drama should be.

I found it a little disjointed, skipping through the years just a little too quickly for me. However, I enjoyed it and if the protrayal is accurate, then it serves to highlight just how Machiavellian politics has become.
D Bourne, Wales

It was difficult to believe the main character had got anywhere as he appeared completely disengaged. It was badly acted and the characters seemed to be a vehicle for damning New Labour and thus it was difficult to empathise with any of them.
Anon, UK

The Project was a stunning and deeply insightful view of the events surrounding the phoenix-like ressurection of the Labour party from the Tory quagmire of the 80s

Lenny Audaer, UK
Very poor. Unusually, as it became more and more predictable I ceased to engage with it and simply found myself feeling sorry for the actors having to project such weak characters and poor lines. They must have felt they were back in a school drama class.
Des, Londo, UK

The Project was excellent - challenging, exciting and fascinating. It certainly seemed to vindicate the suspicions that many people hold about the way the Labour Party operates. Much more importantly, if even half of what was portrayed is true (and I believe it to be), we need to address the appalling tactics of political parties immediately.
C M Price, UK

I think the programme was effective in exposing the "anything goes to win power" attitude that characterised New Labour's victory in 1997. It should be compulsory viewing for the former Tory voters who switched alligence in their droves only to discover that the New Labour promises not to raise taxes, improve the NHS, education and be tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime, was a complete lie designed simply to attain power. We're all now about to reap the whirlwind: rising unemployment, falling house prices, rising taxes, faltering economy and an uncaring, elected dictatorship.

Will the general public wake up and realise what's going on? I hope so for all our sakes.
John Duffy, UK

The Project was a stunning and deeply insightful view of the events surrounding the phoenix-like ressurection of the Labour party from the Tory quagmire of the 80s. If a British version of Primary Colours was to be made, this would truly be it. For anyone who doubts the real forces at work in the Labour Party, this is proof positive that the New Labour machine is oiled by the liquid spin of the wizard behind the curtain himself, Alastair Campbell.
Lenny Audaer, UK

As a political drama, it has a credible and authentic feel to it

Jamie, UK
I think people already know goes on behind the scenes. The Project simply highlights that Labour are just as dirty and ruthless as the Tories. They well and truly had the country sucked in, I hope dramas like this will make people wake up to the fact that politicians both Labour and Tories are as bad as each other. The main difference between New Labour and Conservatives, is that the Tories are now completely useless at fooling the public. What makes Labour even worse is the fact that they would abandon their principles for power. Everyone knows what the Tories are.
Jason, UK

After all the sensational BBC hype - the whole thing so far is so Labour - just words and no plot - hope the concluding episode is better!!
Paul H, UK

The drama was very slow to get into and didn't develop any of the characters very well at all. However, the actual events which took place were very entertaining and believable. I look forward to tomorrow's installment.
Alan Roden, Scotland

Fascinating. It paints quite a realistic picture of our modern day political machinery, regardless of which party that is. I thought that the programme illustrated very well the commonly held reason why so many are disaffected with our politicians. Personal greed and ambition, whether its power or money, or both. Greed is the driver. Survival is the game.

Many of the clips reminded me of some of my more politically motivated friends over the years. Initially the path is one of ideals and good intentions, which quickly becomes a chessgame of moves and counter moves to ensure that one remains in with the pack of power.

I didn't read this as a slant on New Labour as such. It is clear that much of what was shown was the prerequisites of attaining power. In doing so, they had become the beast that they had slain. Such is the way of politics and media minding. Can't wait to see the next part!
Jim Dempster, UK

Dross, a poor soap, wasted half an hour of my time

Ian Berry, Manchester
As a political drama, it has a credible and authentic feel to it. It depicts the all too real power struggles and the betrayals in the cut throat world of politics which few other dramas can match.
Jamie, UK

Nothing new, nothing to be ashamed of. The Labour Party needed to win the election, and they did everything possible to bring British politics kicking and screaming into the 20th century, ready for the 21st.
Matt Larkin, UK

Well, having watched episode one, if anything it has strengthened my belief in the party! As a businessman I recognise the changes that were made within the party as changes that any evolving organisation in these global times has had to make. I am sure episode two is the one lined up to pour the acid however. I wait with baited breath.
Rokkster, UK

Nothing we didn't know already. The programme itself was rather sappy! it further boils the blood of Brownite though!!
Andy, Great Britain

Dross, a poor soap, wasted half an hour of my time. No wit, no humour, no intelligence.
Ian Berry, Manchester, UK

I was a member of the Labour Party during the period of The Project, and it seems like an excellent portrayal of the changes that occured in the Labour Party during those years. We see the cynicism of the leadership, the desperation to win office at any cost, and, eventually, the terrible realisation of exactly how high that cost was. The BBC will, no doubt, come under yet more fire from the Party machine for this, but the makers of the drama should be commended for it.
Graham Copp, London, UK

We're all supposed to be so very absorbed by the antics of these lovely, intelligent and oh-so-special Oxbridge hopefuls as they cling to Tony's coat-tails. Oh, and the people over at the Beeb are even clever and more wonderful. And they're all so sincere/clever/manipulative/super. Please. All they have acheived is a triumph of empty marketing over policy, and Tony's Cronies have turned out to be little more than salesman in flash suits smiling to the cameras whilst they sell off Britain to the PFI merchants in the City.

And where will all these darlings be in a few years time? Working for the same PFI companies! And is this TV with an edge? No, because it doesn't expose the real hard-boiled cynicism of Tony's army, just the nicer end of confused thrusting radicalism that younger people have.
James, Oxford, England

I doubt life behind the scenes of New Labour is quite as interesting as the programme depicts, with sex almost a part of the party membership package, but a worthy political drama

Alex Macrory, UK
This was a bold and highly interesting piece of drama. Excellent work.
Angus Hardie, UK

Good political drama, The Project looks back on the period with a certain nostalgia which could only come with the change 18 years in opposition would bring. Another Auntie success story!
Emmet McDonough, Ireland

Brilliant! Very revealing and entertaining. I'm not especially keen on New Labour but I agree with a lot of the perspectives put across in the first episode - Labour wouldn't have been elected if it stuck to the "oldo" Labour image and Clause 4! The mock cabinet scene was especially good! Can't wait for tomorrow's episode.
James Morgan, UK

Remarkably effective and clear analysis of the actions and principles of the New Labour movement. Should send a shiver down the spine of most non-political people.
Stephen, UK

The Project effectively conveys the spin dominated party New Labour has become, showing the human consequences of false sloganising and deceit. I doubt life behind the scenes of New Labour is quite as interesting as the programme depicts, with sex almost a part of the party membership package, but a worthy political drama, the likes of which has been missing from TV schedules since the equally sceptical House of Cards.
Alex Macrory, England

Good late night viewing - sent me off to sleep quite nicely thank you

Brian, UK
This programme was interesting viewing, but one of the most politically biased pieces of broadcasting I have ever seen. Conservatives were portrayed as racists and Liberal Democrats as in favour of drugs. Labour on the other hand was going to do entirely "nice" things. What plans does the BBC have to do a drama about the other two political parties showing them in a good light so as to fulfil its legal requirement to be politically balanced?
Mark, UK

Utter tosh, believable, but bad TV. Why not tell the truth instead of producing this dramatisation that doesn't.
Jeff Jenkins, UK

As a Labour activist I was looking forward to a drama featuring history and events I could identify with. As a grassroots member, I was looking forward to the dissing of the "Millbank Tendency". I turned off after forty five minutes, bored by the two-dimensional characters and stilted dialogue.
Geraldine, UK

Good late night viewing - sent me off to sleep quite nicely thank you.
Brian, UK

A political party using spin and dirty tricks to gain and then stay in power? Boring. Nothing we didn't know already.
JP Nicholls, UK

I watched this drama for about twenty minutes and found it stifingly boring. We have heard and seen all this stuff over the last few years with acres of newsprint being used. Does any ordinary member of the public really care what grimy events go on behind closed doors? I certainly don't. I should have watched Foyles War or kept an eye on my washing machine or observed the paint drying in our kitchen.
Bri Millar, Scotland

Very dull; no sense of drama; no sense of what inspired the activists and a landslide majority.

John Lloyd, UK
It was very fragmentary and the main character had an emotional range from A to B. Is it really as bad as this? Yes there always have been cynical manipulators in the party, but we heard little from the mass of die-hard activists who are currently hanging on to membership by their fingernails. It was a pretty good hatchet job though, wasn't it?
Bob Marshall, U.K.

It was more old hat than New Labour. A very poor cousin in the political scandal family to House Of Cards.
Amanda, UK

Whilst I found this (first part) to be quite an enjoyable drama I have to say I cannot understand what all the fuss has been about! Those of us who are often called cynical will see this as business as usual (or as we always suspected). But really, there was nothing to justify all the hype and (much like some of the storylines) if people had ignored the pre-publicity the whole thing would just have passed us by. I remember the drama with Ian Richardson as a scheming politician - that seemed more like something to write home about that these ordinary tales.
Guy Hancock, Britain

Frankly boring. We're really into politics in our house but even we switched it off and went to bed halfway through. Too slow paced.
Sarah Taylor, UK

Very dull; no sense of drama; no sense of what inspired the activists and a landslide majority. Compared to the West Wing, there was no insight into the real dilemmas of policy and presentation. I predict that we will not find anything in the second episode to show us why a second landslide followed.
John Lloyd, U.K.

The problem for the Project is that the reality is more extreme, more hypocritical, more unprincipled than the drama

Keith, UK
Very good. Became a little confusing as to who was meant to do what, but I'm sure it is close to the mark.
Andrew, UK

Brilliant! Please, can we have the same about the Conservative party?
Claire, UK

Very good drama explaining how the New Labour spin machine got into action. Didn't focus enough on the Tories disastrous fourth term leaving the door open for Blair - it wasn't all down to Mandelson! Can't wait for tonight's conclusion.
Simon, UK

Whilst highlighting the events and tactics of the time, it has no character development and it assumes we all know what were the issues. It is more like a precis of a documentary.
Joe, UK

Enjoyable mostly, but storyline was too disjointed to really engage. I would have liked to have known more in depth detail about how the characters got to where they were, rather than them just appearing there. From a political perspective, there was nothing that really merited the furore about the drama.
C, England

It is lucky for Labour that The Project was based upon interviews with poeple who were on the inside in the relevant period. It seems reasonable to assume that these informants still held some Labour sympathies. The truth is probably substantially worse that that portrayed on the screen. Overall it seemed to be a well researched and presented programme; although sadly it confirms just how low politics and politicians (on all sides) have sunk.
Tim, UK

Rubbish. Compared to the West Wing it was hopeless.
Peter Simmons, UK

The worrying thing so far is how believable it is.
Andrew, UK

The problem for the Project is that the reality is more extreme, more hypocritical, more unprincipled than the drama. The pastiche characters in the show are outdone by the real-life originals on which they are based. The parting shot at the end of the first episode said it all - New Labour (aka "the Tony Party") represents the most extensive political betrayal of principle in recent UK history.
Keith, GB

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See also:

07 Nov 02 | Politics
30 Jul 02 | Politics
23 Aug 02 | Politics
30 Apr 02 | Politics
16 Feb 02 | Politics
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