Celebrity Politicians ….some truth

30 Jan

It seemed a rash of experts were ready to tell us that fictional character “The pub landlord” would not make much of a difference to the election outcome as..fictional celebrities don’t do that well in elections. Well actually most people seemed to ignore the fact that hes a fictional character as they do with Boris Johnson..but that’s not the point. I did wonder whether this was true. I know Esther Rantzen tanked, and that’s all well and good. I also know that celebrity politics isn’t celebrities standing for election. But what happens when they do?

I have taken celebrity to mean someone with a persona outside of the political arena. For this reason Boris isn’t one as hes clearly been spoiling for the main job since he started out on the entertainment circuit.

So with little science heres some interesting facts.


Jimmy Edwards stood for the Tories in 1964. That year the Tories suffered a swing of minus 6%. Edwards a popular TV comic thing (sorry im not old enough ) suffered a 6.5 % swing against. Clearly no celebrity factor then. In the same year Ted Dexter , cricketer, nicknamed Lord Ted though not a real Lord as he was standing against Jim Callaghan and hadn’t renounced his imaginary peerage managed a positive swing of 1.3%. Perhaps Cardiff wanted imitation Lords, who played at Lords not the House of Lords. If only Ray Charles and Lord Allen had stood the swing might have been greater.

Fast forward to 1992. A couple of smooth faced celebrities were standing for the Tories again. That year the party suffered a minus.3% swing against and managed to win against all the expectations. Gyles”wooly jumper” Brandreth standing in Chester won his seat with a -.8% swing so again no Celeb factor. Similarly Seb Coe former athlete won his seat but suffered a -7% swing.  In 1997 both men lost their seats. Coe suffered a-8.1% swing and Gyles a -9.9% swing. However the party suffered a -11.2% swing so maybe incumbency or maybe celebrity helped them…slightly.

In 97 the referendum Party ( oh remember them they kind of seem sensible looking back through the last 20 years of UKIP and the BNP) anyway they stood a couple of celebs. Robin Page a journalist won 6.1% of the vote in his fight and David Bellamy gwappled (sorry!) to 5.5% against John Major. Neither made an impact on the results but both exceeded the 3% the party scored across the board.

Was Martin Bell a celeb. Probably though the circumstances make him too odd to consider. Similarly Robert Kilroy Silk was that oddity of a politician turned celebrity turned politician. Like a kaleidoscope really.

When Glenda Jackson first stood for Labour in 92 she managed a 7.6% swing , nationally Labour only managed a 3.6% swing. Surely her celebrity status got her over the line ? Well probably, but maybe the fact her opponent was Oliver Letwin accounted for the real increase!



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