Well said, Ed.
1 August 2014
Last month, Ed Miliband talked about a return to substance over style in politics.
Sections of the media have sought to portray Ed Miliband as being ”weird”, looking like Wallace of Wallace and Gromit, of not looking Prime-Ministerial while eating a bacon sandwich, and therefore supposedly lacking in the gravitas and the ability to be a leader and a future Prime Minister.
No right-thinking person would question the ability of a plumber, a teacher, a doctor, a nurse or a footballer , to do their job properly based on their appearance , and the same criterion should apply to politicians.
However, if your party cannot win hearts and minds on social and economic issues, there remains trivia with which to manufacture and accumulate negative stereotypes in order to defeat an opposing candidate or party.
President George Bush and the Republicans’ presidential campaign of 2004 regularly accused the Democrats’ candidate, John Kerry, of “looking French”
Ed Miliband singled out “photo opps”- photo opportunities - for consideration.
A photo-opportunity is an event created by politicians and the media with a few seconds of soundbites as its soundtrack.
Photo-opportunities are used by politicians as political tools whether it is their appearance in people’s living rooms, eating yoghurt in the kitchen, enjoying an ice cream with a political ally, or enjoying a pint in the pub.
These are the kind of backdrops sometimes used by the media to explain important complex political issues to the public at a time when the amount of time on news programmes granted to politicians speaking to the public has fallen markedly, taking place, ironically , in the era of the Constant Political Campaign.
Ed Miliband is right to criticise “photo opp” politics.
Politics is a serious business, particularly so when the policies of the Coalition have failed the majority of people in this country, when monopoly energy companies have ripped off households’ heating costs, and when many still fell the chill of insecurity rather than breeze of recovery at their backs.
Why should an electorate be more engrossed in the demeanour of a politician to decide if he or she speaks on their behalf rather than where they stand on the crucial questions of hard policy?