'Happy Valley's Sgt Cawood has the values we need in a leader - unlike the PM we've got'



Britain is famously divided, so it’s almost our national duty to acknowledge and appreciate moments of unity – and there’s one happening on a weekly basis at the moment.

Millions of us are watching the same TV show, at the same time, the slow release of episodes rather than one bingeable drop meaning Sunday nights are now something to look forward to.

It probably says a lot about the state of the country that far from being lighthearted and jolly, Happy Valley is a tense, dark, anxiety-inducing rollercoaster ride of a programme.

And it definitely says everything about where we are right now that the best show on TV has at its heart heroine Sergeant Catherine Cawood.

Nevermind a member of the police force you can ­definitely trust, she’s someone in a position of power who is the antithesis of the leadership we’re now enduring.

When Rishi Sunak became the latest un-elected Prime Minister, he pledged to lead a government with “integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level”.

Even just the events of the last week alone have proved that Sunak, rather than being the opposite of Boris Johnson, is the same old bullsh** in a better suit.

No wonder we’re obsessed with Catherine Cawood, who actually walks the walk instead of only talking the talk. Imagine her marching into Downing Street, instantly getting the measure of everyone in the Cabinet, addressing them in her calm, no nonsense, methodical fashion, like she did the teachers at Ryan’s school when he was accused of something without evidence. There’d be no empty promises on her watch.

Sunak brushed the Nadhim Zahawi tax scandal off, again and again, hoping he could get away with it, because that’s what the Tories are used to doing.

Only when certain publications, not least this one, rightly refused to drop it did he have to give in, and instruct the Prime Minister’s ethics adviser (a role that will never not sound like a joke) to look into it.

So why wouldn’t we all be longing to spend as much time as possible in the company of ­Catherine Cawood – via the ­staggering writing of Sally Wainwright, of course.

Catherine isn’t perfect, but she’s decent, straightforward, honest. When someone asks how she is in Series 1, she tells them she’s fine – “Effed off, insecure, neurotic and emotional.”

Principled but never pious, she quietly, consistently gets on with the job, even after she’s been smacked in the face by baddies both literally and figuratively.

Happy Valley’s only fault is that it leaves us with an unbearable irony. There is someone who can deliver integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level, who can inspire, and be the role model this country so desperately needs, but she too fails us on one level. She’s ­imaginary.

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