FOR years, I resisted the desperate pleas of the future Mrs Haugh to join her for a viewing of a ‘classic’ festive film.

But, as I gently nursed the fatigue of a 5am finish at last week’s General Election count, she seized her chance, ignored my protests and jumped straight onto Amazon Prime.

Her movie of choice? Well, it was Love Actually.

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No doubt this is a film many of you will know intimately. Some will have had to endure two-and-a-half hours of Hugh Grant and friends against their will.

Others will probably see it as a festive staple, in the same vein as family fistfights or Boxing Day games of Mr and Mrs.

In my family, at least, those two aren’t entirely separate.

To those who have spent the last 16 years blissfully unaware of Richard Curtis’ tale, let me enlighten you.

The great and the good of British cinema (and, for some reason, Ant and Dec) star in this collection of storylines about various characters as the countdown to Christmas gathers pace.

The Gazette: Hugh Grant and Martine McCutcheon in Love Actually Hugh Grant and Martine McCutcheon in Love Actually

We have Bill Nighy cast as yesterday’s music man who once again shoots to fame with a pretty terrible Christmas number one. Then there’s Mr Grant, playing a Tony Blair-inspired prime minister who falls for Martine McCutcheon and ends up snogging her on stage at a school Nativity Play.

Colin Firth, after finding out his girlfriend is sleeping with his brother, runs off to France, where his Portuguese housekeeper soon wins his heart. There’s only one problem – she doesn’t speak a word of English and his Portuguese is arguably worse. Nevertheless, sparks fly and, to cut a long story short, Firth proposes in the middle of a Portuguese restaurant after learning her mother tongue.

In by far the best of the lot, Liam Neeson plays a recently-widowed stepfather who helps his stepson break out of his shell and chase after the most popular girl in school as she gets set to jet off for the holidays. Suffice to say, the teenagers end up together.

There’s a whole host of other stories which unnecessarily steal airtime, including Kris Marshall’s US adventure and Andrew Lincoln’s shameful approach for his best friend’s new wife, Kiera Knightly.

But it’s the broken love of Emma Thompson and the late, great Alan Rickman on which I want to focus. The pair, happily married and with two children, seem to be the perfect match, until a younger woman in the office (Heike Makatsch) makes a move on Rickman and soon he is seen buying her an expensive necklace. He can’t hide it from Thompson, however, and it appears their marriage is on the cusp of collapse.

Some of you might be wondering what on Earth this has to do with anything.

But, in the last week, we’ve seen the collapse of Renfrewshire’s own love story.

It has never been clearer that the area has fallen out of love with the Labour Party.

Just 234 votes are all that stood between the Tories and a first victory over Labour in Paisley and Renfrewshire North for 50 years (albeit that ‘victory’ was only to claim second place).

The Gazette: Former Labour MP Jim Sheridan at one time claimed over 50 per cent of the vote in Paisley and Renfrewshire North Former Labour MP Jim Sheridan at one time claimed over 50 per cent of the vote in Paisley and Renfrewshire North

This would have been unthinkable in bygone days, when the party could put forward a watermelon as its candidate and still romp home.

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What will happen to Labour now remains something of a mystery.

It seems that, for offering voters a fresher choice, the SNP (who play Makatsch in our tale) will dominate Renfrewshire’s political map for years to come.

In the film, Rickman and Thompson seem to have made up by the end. But movies have always dabbled in the unlikely...

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