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Wednesday, 23 May, 2001, 09:10 GMT 10:10 UK
Do celebrities in politics make you want to vote?
Pop star Geri Halliwell has taken part in Labour's first election broadcast of this campaign.
The former Spice Girl appears in the film serving tea to pensioners to the tune of the party's campaign song Lifted, by the Lighthouse Family.
Other stars who pledge allegiance to their chosen political parties include Jim Davidson and Paul Daniels for the Conservatives, and John Cleese and film critic Barry Norman for the Lib Dems.
But should celebrities get involved with politics? Do stars making affiliations to political parties make you want to vote for them?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
It's not going to sway my vote, but if it encourages those who don't normally vote to participate in the process of democracy, then it can only be a good thing.
Celebrities in politics make me feel sick. Politicians in politics make me sick. Get rid of them all.
Kevin Parker, UK
Why would I listen to an empty-headed celebrity on ANY subject?
The ballot form should have a box specifically for abstention, so that the 3 main parties can see exactly how much people have no confidence in them. I intend to go to the polls but will write "abstain" across the ballot. This will send the message that I am bothered to vote but not for the policies on offer from any of the parties.
Here's the deal. If you ask the average person about anything political, they won't have a clue. They won't want to have a clue even if you offered to explain it to them. Now, let's assume that a politician actually believes in his position. He could attempt to convince voters on his own. No one is going to listen because they don't have the necessary attention span. As I said, the electorate doesn't want to know. However, if a popular celebrity speaks out on a political viewpoint, would this average person be more likely to listen? I suspect he would. If using a celebrity is what it takes to get the average citizen to pay more attention to political matters, then what's wrong with that?
Rage Against the Machine is my favourite band and I don't agree with any of their politics. Might there be some people who do, who might not have voted, or paid attention to the issues, if they didn't like Rage Against the Machine? If the use of celebrities fosters political awareness in people who actively shun it, then why do you all have a problem?
Andrew Booth, UK
People keep expressing surprise at Geri Halliwell's "change of opinion". Personally, I don't see that much difference between the policies presented by Maggie Thatcher and those of Tony Blair.
Well in theory it could, of course, backfire. People who can't stand Geri Halliwell might be put off voting Labour - especially as she publicly proclaimed herself a Thatcherite in 1997, as many have pointed out. I know people are allowed to change their minds, but Thatcherite to Blairite in one leap? Come on! And anyway, we are all so mind-numbed by media images of celebrities reaching saturation point, I'd be surprised if anyone could even tell the difference between a Party Political Broadcast and a pop video.
William Lack, England
While I can just about stomach the involvement of UK 'celebs' in politics, what the hell does the outcome have to do with Britney Spears??? If you want to get involved in politics, Britney, go back to the States and try to do something about the non-elected President your countrymen are lumbered with, and leave us to deal with our own politicians!
Justin Credible, UK
Pop stars, especially, should keep out of politics. We have a government full of comics anyway.
Anyone sad enough to be influenced by "flash-in-the-pan popstars" should have their right to vote removed!!!
John Prescott has obviously taken on board Britney Spears' support for Labour. Hit me baby one more time!
Celebrities will definitely encourage the younger majority of the population to vote, but the older generation will be able to see through the mirage the different parties are trying to create. The fact that people who are respected in the media are helping to entice the public to vote will most likely help the parties. It may mean people vote without understanding the parties' policies.
W. Nasser, Liverpool, England
I think the Geri Halliwell stunt was embarrassing, and an insult to voters. Whether or not the Labour party is backed by the rich and famous has absolutely nothing to do with the real issues such as education, health care and transport. Geri even admitted that she knew nothing about the politics involved. This is simply a stunt that patronises the voter and takes us one step closer to the showbiz nature of US elections by pandering to people's tastes not their needs!
I think a lot of people are missing the point of the broadcast. The message being put over was to highlight the changes over the last 4 years since Labour came into power. As everybody points out, Geri Halliwell was quoted back then as being a Thatcherite and look at the changes in her life since 1997. If I wasn't already voting Labour, as an adult I wouldn't be swayed by her appearance (mind you, Patti Boulaye didn't inspire me to vote Tory either!!) but if I was a first time voter of a younger age, maybe it would make me think twice about not voting. Having said all that, if Jim Davidson were campaigning for Labour, I might have to think again!!).
Adrian Staszyszyn, Greece
I can't understand what all the fuss is about. It's quite obvious to me, and to anyone with more than three active grey cells, that this public show of support for Tony by young and attractive singers, and Geri Halliwell, is merely a tribute to his charisma and integrity. Not only should we be glad that the younger generation values these attributes to this extent, but we
should rise and espouse their worthy cause. It is a great comfort to know that our leaders are so well regarded by such paragons of virtue and humility.
So let's have a look at where things stand. In the blue corner are the Tories with the bill of Sunday Night at The London Palladium from 30yrs ago. Super, Lovely, Smashing, Great. In the red corner is the Labour Party. They have enlisted the support of top neo-political celebs (...and kiddies disco faves) Halliwell and Spears, who I'm pretty sure think that Tony Blair is that camp bloke from Give Us a Clue... This leaves the orangey, sort of nicotine coloured corner. They have the mighty John Cleese. But even his sparkling wit and intelligence might find difficult to shine through the murkiness of the LibDems' manifesto. He may well be severing ties with the party as we speak, after their 50% taxation promise for people who earn £100k+.
The only cocktail of Politics and Celebrity that I personally will endorse is that of awareness for the masses. People like Bono have political views which bring attention to real, humanitarian issues that transcend the established political doctrines and have nothing to do with promotion of plastic karaoke pop songs for the under-eights.
Tanya Smithson, England
So Britney Spears, plastic princess of pop who doesn't even live in this country, wants us to support Tony Blair? Well, never mind "Hit me baby one more time", I preferred "Remember I'm a Womble" so it's the Tories for me!
John Cleese for office!
Don't you think that the reason politicians use musicians and actors in their advertising is not so much to change votes, but to create the opportunity for name recognition in an environment (TV, radio, newspaper) where voters are barraged by large budget advertising for consumable goods. It's not so much the presentation of a message that is sent out by the musicians and actors - but in the end it is more of an attempt to have the politician recognised at the polling station when election day comes around. I see it as a method of survival in an electronic-media-blitzed world.
Media personalities should not be officially used by political parties unless they are standing for election themselves. To use celebrities in this way is a shining example of the utmost contempt that political parties show for the public. What on earth has the average person got in common with Geri Halliwell? She's got millions and would never have to lift a finger again in her life if she so desired.
When you watch this 'advert' please don't forget that it wasn't so long ago that Ms Halliwell was branding Margaret Thatcher "the first Spice Girl". In Britain you still have the privilege not to vote on polling day (something that is actually illegal in Australia) - the best message the British public could send the political parties would be a mass no-show on election day. Treat them with the same contempt they are treating you.
Rather than complaining about so-called "spin" and the lack of serious debate, we should recognise that the onus is on us, the electorate, to educate ourselves, discuss the issues with one another and make the right decisions when we go to the polls. If we show that we are ready to make intelligent decisions, then the politicians might just treat us to an intelligent campaign!
Celebrity endorsements should not influence the vote of anyone with their own, sound, working mind. Sure, Geri might be a good singer but I don't give two hoots who she votes for and neither should anybody else. This confirms to me that politicians think the majority of the population have no mind of their own and can be brainwashed. Burn the political bandwagons, I say!
I don't like celebrity endorsements, in fact, I hate them. A party with longest celebrity line up will never get my vote.
People in show business are entitled to their political views but they should not be regarded as having any special wisdom. If people's voting intentions are influenced by them then more fool them!
Will Geri Halliwell stop at nothing to promote her new "image" that is likely to send even more young girls into a frenzy on unhealthy diets and exercise. Is this really the sort of image that our Government should publicly endorse?
If you have your mind made up for you by a pop star you deserve everything that you get!
By and large, a celebrity won't make me change my vote, but I do believe that it can reinforce the core support for a party, and also in Geri Halliwell's case I think Labour are hoping to raise the turnout amongst younger voters; is that such a bad thing?
H. Myers, USA
The celebrities being on show doesn't annoy me. In fact, it adds a bit of glitz or glamour to an otherwise long and dull election campaign. But they don't affect my indifference.
When Geri Halliwell was with the Spice Girls, they publicly supported the Conservative Party, hailing Margaret Thatcher as the original Spice Girl! Geri must have a very short memory.
Pop stars in election broadcasts is as stupid as party leaders in pop videos. Could you imagine Neil Kinnock in a pop video? Sadly, no imagination is needed.
Sandra Ashworth , New Zealand (residing UK)
As the average Joe in the street is about as intelligent and sophisticated as the popularist 'entertainers' that the Spin Doctors wheel out on these occasions, you could at least give the parties credit for attempting to communicate with the masses on their level.
Celebs will not change anyone's mind when it comes to deciding who to vote for, but they might make otherwise very dull political broadcasts watchable.
Why all the fuss about Geri Halliwell and
the possibility of her fans to follow her
vote? Last time I checked 12 year olds can't vote!
Using a celebrity in a political campaign is a direct insult to the public; thinking that a pop artist can change a UK citizen's outlook on politics is truly a demeaning of the public political consciousness and morals.
Yes, film stars and celebrities do add 'pulling power' to politicians. But they are only as good as their judgement. I can't help feel what a foolish man Charlton Heston has turned out to be with his wild and insane love of weapons. I think this is the best example that I can think of where a little knowledge is dangerous. The pro-gun lobby in the U.S. is making the country unsafe and unstable. And, some of its greatest supporters are no better. In fact, they are dangerous and armed people.
I am from Tamil Nadu, India, where a star captured power last week.
There is nothing wrong in "stars" participating in the campaign.
After all we know more about them than average politicians, thanks to paparazzi, and media. However it is wrong if these stars were voted to power.
William Coler, United States
I think stars are a mere coincidence of pop culture, have absolutely nothing to do with the outside world, a self protecting niche of greedy people with too much money and little brains, when they realise this they offer them selves as think tanks to the world my behind! Leave politics to people who at least offer their lives for the better!!
Publicity seekers like Geri Halliwell haven't a clue about politics; she supported Tories in the 1997 elections, now it's Labour. Just happens to coincide with her single in the charts...
I guess that this is a consequence of the three main parties being so alike these days. Now that all the parties are so closely aligned on "roots" issues, the only way to distinguish a party is by its personality. I hope that it doesn't work, although I wouldn't mind seeing John Cleese as Minister for Funny Walks again.
Matt, Wakefield, England
We have to realise that democracy is a "doing word". Unless we all get involved in politics nothing will change. I expect Geri Halliwell takes the Labour manifesto with her as light reading when she goes to the Seychelles.
I find it no surprise whatsoever that celebs are used to leverage political aims. It is a simple psychological principle of delivering information from a perceived 'trusted' source. Why do you think they get football players to talk to kids about not taking drugs? Because they won't listen to people they dislike like parents or politicians. Basically whoever manages to get enough money to hire Britney Spears would have an army of teenagers voting for them. Wouldn't be old enough to vote but you get the idea.
Generally, people who can make it to the top of their profession are capable and able to transfer skills. Any political party also endorses a celebrity by allowing them to promote the party and hence there is mutual benefit. It is important to vote and if people like Ms. Halliwell can promote interest in politics particularly in young people then all well and good. It is worth the price but I fear the politicians are in more danger than the electorate from this move. Many a politician appears to confuse their sense of identity with that of a celebrity; this trend of celebrity incorporation will surely exacerbate matters. May I suggest counselling for those politicians so effected?
"Celebrities" bore me to death at the best of times. As far as I am concerned, their main contribution to the General Election is to make a bad time a whole lot worse.
Jenni, Bristol, England
It largely depends on what the celebrities' motives are. Artists like Bono from U2 or Radiohead, who convey political views in their songs, are therefore educating their fans and the young generation that they should help to change their way of life with their vote.
But those like Geri Halliwell are purely promoting their own work and attempting to unmask their plastic and manufactured image, in which Geri has failed miserably.
Celebrities have every right to join in the world of politics but I recall someone defining a celebrity as being "someone who is well known for being well known" and that is not much of a recommendation to take them any more seriously than anyone else!
Clive Hill, USA
Well politics are dull really, let's face it. Unfortunately they play a very important role in everyone's life whether directly or indirectly. I'm all for the idea of using celebrities to add a little sparkle to the whole affair. You don't have to vote the same way as your favourite pop star but if it turns someone who is anti-politics into someone who might just get off their backside and vote, then it has to be a good thing.
It would take a very shallow person indeed who would vote for a party just because it was endorsed by some celeb. On the other hand, in a democratic society everyone, including the celebs and your mates at the pub, is entitled to speak publicly about parties and issues.
I say we get Hyacinth Bucket to run for office. She'd have my vote!
Laura Davies, UK
We're talking about people who work in a business that on average requires an IQ of 28. Naturally they belong in politics.
I'm a life-long Republican and my favourite musical performer is Jimmy Buffett - a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat. No amount of campaigning by Mr. Buffett will ever persuade me to vote for 'his' choice. That doesn't mean that I won't still enjoy his music and continue to buy his albums.
Peter Smith, UK
I'm not sure whether I like the idea of media personalities endorsing political parties, in the same way that they might endorse a brand of soap powder. I do, however, think that such people have a valuable role in terms of encouraging people, especially the young, to overcome their apathy and go out to vote.
I shall still be voting Labour - I really don't care which celebrities they wheel out - they CANNOT be any worse than William Hague
I think Geri Halliwell's appearance has probably more to do with the release today of her new album than her political views. For most of us, I think the main question will be whether the political broadcast is as execrable as Spiceworld: The Movie. Blair's obsessive hob-nobbing with stars makes you think he would be better off resuming his musical career and leaving running the country to someone who is actually concerned with substantive issues rather than appearances.
Yes, they make me want to vote for the other guy.
Why should celebrities feature
in a political broadcast? They earn
more in one week than most people earn in a year. They
don't have the lifestyle that the
average person has.
Also as I understand
Ms Hallliwell (when
she was a Spice Girl) moved out of the UK to save a big
tax bill... that about sums it up for me.
This is just more proof that politics is about the package and not about the content.
Michael Entill, UK
I believe media stars should stick to what they do best and stay out of national politics. Of course they have every right to hold views and to express them but I can see no reason why Geri Halliwell's opinions on the Labour party should carry any more weight than mine or the bloke next door's.
Celebrities don't sway my vote. But they do give an interesting insight into their lives. Such as Frank Bruno's "promise" to emigrate if Labour won the last election. I guess it was a 'political promise', you know the sort, made once every four years and then completely forgotten about.
Maybe a gullible few are influenced by celebrities campaigning for one political party or another but I'd like to think that I and the vast majority of others can make our own minds up about the various political issues without having to rely on Geri Halliwell or Paul Daniels to tell us who we should vote for.
Harry Knapp, Germany
No. Why should a celebrity have any more of an idea about politics than the normal man in the street? I wouldn't vote Labour just because the bloke who lives across the road endorses them - so why should I vote for them just because 'Geri' says I should.
A bit of honesty in politics is more inclined to make me vote.
Not in the least.
However, as celebrities, they have a certain duty to encourage voter participation in the democratic process; but I'm not so sure that using their status to promote allegiance to a particular party is an appropriate role. In so doing they could subvert the principal of equal and fair exposure of the political parties in the news media.
Geri Halliwell has finally made up my mind about who I am going to vote for in the forthcoming election - Conservative.
Of course celebrities should become involved in politics. Everybody should become involved in politics! Otherwise, we will lose what sense we have left to participate in democracy.
I think that celebrity support is more likely to have a negative effect than a positive. When Paul Daniels said (in the last election) that he would leave the country if Labour won, I saw that as a very good reason to vote Labour!
Jim Davidson and Paul Daniels fronting the Conservatives v Geri Halliwell, they couldn't have asked for any one better!
When stars like Geri Haliwell endorse political parties, it just shows us all that those parties have become banal products as much as the other products (Pepsi) that stars endorse, and voting is something to be viewed as just another "lifestyle choice". Thankfully many people are now looking for an alternative to the ridiculous posturing that masquerades as the peak of democracy today.
It makes absolutely no difference to me as far as voting for that party goes - but it does make me look at the star in a new light, especially if they are promoting a shade of politics different to my own. However when there are people who can't even remember who they voted for last time round, a celebrity endorsement is probably as good a reason as any to attract their vote.
If the Government or opposition parties really believe that parading a bunch of celeb's will gain them an advantage then good luck to them. As for the electorate, to be swayed by such drivel is a terrible indictment of our ability to vote through informed opinion.
I would rather vote for John Cleese, than any untrustworthy politician.
Geri Halliwell is just perfect to feature in a New Labour Party Political Broadcast; vacuous, shallow, self-obsessed, she and Blair are made for each other. Isn't it about time that politicians stopped treating the electorate like imbeciles by cuddling up to celebrities, and concentrated on real issues?
14 May 01 | Vote2001
Geri spices up Labour broadcast
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