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Text, transformations, characterisation, the personal, and the political: 2. - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
Text, transformations, characterisation, the personal, and the political: 2.
In Bezique, notably – which was, after all, written to a fest prompt, not from mine own inspiration – I was required to write a fairly political piece; and it has not ceased to raise hackles. But some at least of those hackles – and on those who sound the most loudly and the most often – were raised well before that.

So let us talk about characterisation, shall we? The post-War, post-canon period (and the period between the Battle of Hogwarts and seeing Al off to school for his first term), is at once the easiest and the least easy period to write. It certainly seems to cause the most explosions. The canon we have to work with is that Hermione, post-War, became a high-flight DMLE sort; Ron did some Auroring, and worked for George; Nev did some Auroring, and then went into teaching; and Harry became the youngest ever head of the Aurors. That’s it, really.

After the United States was founded as an independent republic, its first real president, George Washington, expressed the pious hope that the new nation should be forever free of political parties. That doesn’t seem to be working out too well for them. When a war is won, politics carries it on by other means, at least in democracies: a fact to which Lloyd George and Baldwin (and Winston), Clem and Morrison and Gaitskell and Bevan and Bevin, Winston and Eden and Rab Butler, Truman and Ike (and Winston – again), Mrs T and Michael Foot and John Major and Tony Blair, could all attest.

If one writes fic set in the period in which Hermione and Harry, at least, are working for the Ministry in some capacity, sooner or later something political shall crop up. Brammers and Blythely have done it brilliantly, for example. So: what is plausible?

Let me say at once that Muggle political positions do not, of course, map over directly to what can be speculated, plausibly, of post-War Wizarding politics. Nor do I, for one, write them so (although I also maintain that ‘Death Eater’ is not the corresponding position to ‘Conservative’. Feel free to argue otherwise. Duck when Shezan pops in to comment on your argument). It seems obvious to me that both Harry and Hermione, with Ron, Nev, and all the rest of the Victors, would be together in whatever post-War party or faction in Wizardom that stands for reform and liberalism (I am after all an old Classical Liberal myself. You know: like Hayek, and Harris, and – most of the time – Maggie). And if you confine yourself to that, you may escape the vociferous condemnation, not to say the Two Minutes’ Hates, of the Unco’ Guid. (Otherwise, you’d best sport the unconcern of a tweedy honey-badger.)

If, however, you are, for the good of your soul as a writer, not cowed into playing it safe, you may sooner or later be forced to include the characters’ – not your – political leanings in your characterisations. At some point, you may, for example, find yourself with a prompt that requires that you get Harry, undercover, not only into the House of Commons, but into Downing Street as PM. Or you may find that your story impels you to have your characters interact with the Muggle world, in a fashion in which they become involved in a political argument down the pub, say. What then?

Well, as always, I suggest that plausibility be your guide. It is conceivable, for example, that Hermione might be a Lib Dem; but, and not only because she is so nakedly a Rowlingesque self-insert, it’s really damned difficult not to pin a red, Labour rosette on her – and not a Blairite one. (No one ever seems to complain if George or Ron is a Conservative, so long as they are High-Street shopkeepers or entrepreneurs.) And then, of course, there’s Harry.

People are invested in Harry. He is Our Hero, the messianic incarnation of all this is Just and Right and Good. For many people, that means he is necessarily not only not a Tory, but hates hates HATES them with the same passion as the invested fen.

All right. Write him thus. But make it plausible. Make the argument as to why, rather than simply importing your own faith-based prejudice that Tories Are TEH EVOL.

Certainly Blythely has made a plausible Lib Dem of him, in Corridors of Power, a brilliant and seminal work. And Brammers can do anything with him, with unexcelled skill.

But – by way of example – if it’s your job pursuant to a fest prompt to get him into Downing Street undercover as a Muggle politico, you really cannot write him as a Lib Dem, can you.

What then?

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