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Wednesday, May 04, 2005

In search of celebrity

Welsh Secretary, Peter Hain, has got himself in trouble by publishing a photograph of himself with opera singer, Katherine Jenkins, on his campaign literature without her permission. The photo implies that she is supporting him for re-election when, in fact, she reportedly has "no political leanings whatsoever."

Why Mr. Hain felt the need to imply a celebrity endorsement in the first place is puzzling. After all it does nothing to enhance his arguments or to promote his policies. This obsession with celebrity is a New Labour thing and very much reflects the cult of personality that dominates much of American politics.

In many ways the desire to seek the support of well-known personalities underlines a deep insecurity amongst politicians. Many are uneasy in the company of popular culture, those who embrace it do so perhaps too enthusiastically. They are seeking answers as to why the great British public seem so detached from the political process, but instead of analysing themselves and their own behaviour, they look for palliatives, grabbing onto the coat-tails of popular celebrities in the hope of making a connection with ordinary people.

I may be wrong, after all I am an out-of-touch politician myself, but I get the impression that people prefer to keep their politicians at arms-length and do not like to see them demeaning themselves by chasing celebs. I think that people want to be engaged on issues and look upon the glamour-side of politics as a superficial distraction. The fact that politicians prefer to slag off each other whilst being photographed with personalities is a big turn-off for most of the public and actually contributes to the process of disengagement.
Comments:
“In many ways the desire to seek the support of well-known personalities underlines a deep insecurity amongst politicians”

Maybe you should share your words of wisdom with Lembit Opik!
 
"This obsession with celebrity is a New Labour thing"

So what about Matthew Kelly, John Cleese, Barry Norman
Barry Took, Andy Kershaw, Dave Allen, Nicholas Parsons, Edward Woodward, Ludovic Kennedy and who could forget Greg Dyke!
 
S'funny, haven't seen any of those on our literature.
 
The arrogance of Peter Hain is remarkable. Two days ago I received a knock at the door. It was Peter Hain's campaign team who informed me that if I would like to speak to Peter Hain (who was waiting in a car in the middle of the street!)they would call him. Why couldn't he knock the doors himself? Surely, he should be canvassing like the rest of the candidates. I understand that during election campaigns cabinet ministers are busy because they are sent to marginal constituencies to bolster support BUT the fact that Peter Hain was sitting in a car in the middle of the street is quite insulting. Many of the people who I have talked to since this event feel insulted and angry.
 
When you say “two days ago” – do you mean Bank holiday Monday?
 
"S'funny, haven't seen any of those on our literature"

No, just paraded like animals at your morning news conferences.
 
Shouldn’t you be out canvassing Peter? Not sat in front of your computer? Or have the Lib Dems given up in Swansea already??
 
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