Has David Cameron been binge-watching House Of Cards? You wouldn't think it likely, what with him steeped in a fiercely contested general election campaign with only a month or so to go. Then again, it would explain why the i̶n̶t̶e̶r̶r̶o̶g̶a̶t̶i̶o̶n̶ interview by Jeremy Paxman resembled an unprepared schoolboy being told off by the headmaster for not doing his homework.
No, the reason I'm asking such a question is because the actions of the prime minister are beginning to bear strange similarities to that of Kevin Spacey's devious and Machiavellian US President Frank Underwood in House Of Cards, particularly the developments during the political drama's third season.
*** House of Cards spoiler alert ***
Newly sworn in President Underwood is embarking on an audacious plan to create a New Deal for the 21<sup>st century, America Works. At the heart of his plan is to create 10 million new jobs, creating full employment and thus end reliance on benefit entitlements.
Switch back to reality and Cameron has just announced that if elected, a Conservative government would create two million additional jobs over the next five years.
"Five years on, by working through our long-term plan, look at what we have achieved together: 1.9 million more jobs; more people in work in our country than ever before; more jobs created here than the rest of Europe combined; more people with the security of a regular pay-packet, providing for themselves and their families," Cameron said.
With 1.86 million people unemployed in the UK in the three months to the end of January, it is effectively the same pledge of universal employment. And similar to Underwood, Cameron has also claimed to make cuts to welfare as well if the Conservatives are elected.
The prime minister has said British families need to take "the medicine" to help put the country back on track, as the Conservatives have said they will seek £12bn of welfare cuts over the next parliament if they are returned to power.
Obviously, there are differences between the Netflix show and the Conservatives' proposals. America Works had a more socialist leaning, with unemployed people registering with the government to receive a job. The Tories' "Britain works" version would instead be looking to the private sector to boost job creation.
But there's no question this ruthless, pragmatic approach to both tackling unemployment and dismantling the welfare state that Frank employs is something that Cameron would approve of. Indeed, what could be more of a Tory slogan than the words President Underwood utters during the launch of the AmWorks programme: "You are entitled to nothing."
No third term for Cameron?
But that is not the only eerie parallel between the US TV show and the UK general election. Cameron astounded the country when he announced he would not seek a third term in Downing Street, telling the BBC: "Terms are like Shredded Wheat - two are wonderful but three might just be too many."
This announcement was just weeks after the release of season three of House Of Cards, where to undercut his rivals in the Democrat Party seeking to block his every move, Frank announced he would not seek re-election.
While critics said it was an arrogant announcement by Cameron, there was clearly Machiavellian divide and conquer machinations behind it. More important than announcing he would not stay as prime minister beyond 2020, was his candid naming of Theresa May, Boris Johnson and George Osborne as his likely successors.
By engineering an early battle for the Conservative leadership, Cameron could well be hoping that in-fighting among his closest rivals will ensure he is not toppled during the next five years (if he wins the election). If the economy continues to improve, it could pave the way for a dramatic U-turn from the Conservative leader in which he tries to emulate Blair and Thatcher by winning a third general election.
Frank made the announcement with no intention of relinquishing power. Is it possible that Cameron has the same goal in mind?