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Last Updated: Monday, 3 November, 2003, 14:45 GMT
Britons 'too celebrity obsessed'
Big Brother winner Cameron Stout and Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott
Celebrity culture is harming political knowledge, the survey says
A fixation with celebrities has been blamed for an apparent ignorance of politics and current affairs among the British public.

Almost half of those questioned for a Whitaker's Almanack survey could not name the deputy prime minister.

John Prescott was correctly identified by 53% of people, but 31% said they had "no idea" who the deputy PM was.

Almanack editor-in-chief Lauren Simpson said: "We are a nation obsessed with celebrity culture."

Ms Simpson said everybody needed to "escape from real life" once in a while.

United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan
Is this a musician or the United Nations secretary general?
"[But] I would like to see more people putting down their celebrity gossip magazines... to keep abreast of current affairs and the world around us," she said.

The level of knowledge was worse among younger people, with just 27% of those in the 16-24 age group able to name Tony Blair's deputy.

Some 80% of those questioned said they were nervous and embarrassed about their lack of political knowledge - and Ms Simpson said Britons were right to worry.

More people identified Kofi Annan as United Nations Secretary General than correctly named the deputy prime minister, according to the survey.

Some 58% named Mr Annan - but some thought he was an Iraqi general, the South African president, an athlete or musician.

More than 1,000 adults were questioned across the UK for the Omnibus survey.

Britons 'fail to name key figures'
22 Oct 02  |  UK News
Young voters have 'lost faith'
22 Apr 03  |  Nottinghamshire
Young 'not turned off' by politics
04 Dec 02  |  Politics
John Prescott
22 Oct 02  |  Politics

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