#Cameronettes Take on #Milifandom in the Battle for Downing Street

Photo by: The Times

Ed Miliband enjoying his last lunch before the election day. Photo by: The Times

As we gear into the last days of campaigning for the 2015 general election, it has become increasingly apparent that something is changing about the way politicians’ campaign today. It is absolutely ludicrous to suggest that politicians are necessarily moral individuals or even trustworthy ones, but in the past the campaigning leading up to the election has at least been mostly serious and legitimate.

In this election we have seen an increase in the branding of politicians being “relatable”. This is of course party PR, but, at the same time, nothing more than mere images of Ed Miliband standing in his “kitchenette” and David Cameron feeding a very cute lamb. This begs the question, are we, the electorate, so superficial that party leaders feel the need to bombard us with cute and “relatable” imagery to become the Prime Minister?

Far be it from me, a lowly undergraduate, to point out what seems to me to be the obvious, but I want our future leader to have good policies and not necessarily to be able to feed a lamb or have a kitchen the size of a closet. What’s even more frustrating is that the media furore over Miliband’s kitchen-gate was ridiculous and frankly detracted from the very notion of British politics being somewhat noble. I find myself wondering, if one is going to try and seem relatable by showing a modest kitchen, the “nanny kitchen” was not the best bet. After Cameron’s faux pas in his term as PM by commenting on a pasty place he had eaten at (which coincidentally had been shut down years before), one would have thought that Miliband would not have followed the same path.

However, there is something to be said about rebranding politicians. Ed Miliband is not necessarily the most charming character, and Cameron whilst having plenty of charisma is on the back-foot as the incumbent PM. Of course feeding lambs and eating bacon sandwiches may not be the most inspiring of campaigns, but it is a start to showing that politicians are human also.

As the 21st century continues, it is increasingly obvious that campaigning methods have to evolve into something more suited to our fast-paced lifestyles. The solution of course was just as ridiculous as the names they were given: #Milifandom and #Cameronettes. I admire the use of Twitter and social media to campaign but sometimes it is best not to use them to gather voters. This campaign technique soon became a game, with people tweeting simply for the sake of it.

It may be going too far to say that image is more important than the substance, but unfortunately our lack of trust in our politicians means that sometimes the PR stunts are more believable. It is of course somewhat cheapening to rely on spin-doctors and viral hash-tags to win an election campaign instead of relying on the substance of the manifesto material. But it seems to me that the election campaign based on image alone is a metaphor for a lot of the 21st century life-style; we buy into images all the time, so why shouldn’t the politicians take advantage?

I long for the days when campaigning meant defending and promoting policies over posing with a lamb or eating a bacon sandwich whilst relying on frenzied tweeting for votes. But I fear that this is where the future of political campaigning lies.

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