Vote for The Celebrity Party!

This blog entry comes from four threads of thought. The first thread comes from watching the precision of the Ghurkas campaign led by Joanna Lumley. The second thread comes from observing the slight snootiness of some media commentators, when they muttered that celebrity was needed to challenge Gordon Brown in the first place. The third thread is from MPs deluding themselves with their own sense of importance and ability, particularly Hazel Blears MP (just before she "resigned"). The final thread regards former presenter of "The Word" and ex-reality show contestant, Terry Christian, and a discussion he had with Blears in mid-May about non-participation in politics. But what really united these threads of thought was seeing a television programme that one of the people mentioned above used to be in. It was really funny. You should've seen it. If you've never seen it before because of some sort of highbrow small-mindedness, give it a go. I was entranced by all those people filing into that house and now they're either walking out or getting evicted already. But enough about the BBC News coverage of 10 Downing Street. Boom boom. There's that oft-quoted statement repeated ad nauseum that politics is "showbusiness for ugly people" and I used to hate when folks said that, as I've always believed that politics was standing for what you believe in and was a great public service. Nowadays, MPs can't do their job properly and have a puffed-up idea of their own personality - they think they're celebrities of principle, in the mould of Muhammed Ali, when they're actually behaving like the worst example of reality television contestants.

A perfect example of this behaviour is Brown's use of Youtube, with that wrong-headed fake smile. It's already well-documented and is probably Brown's mistaken belief that you need to be perceived as some sort of talkshow host to be popular. Brown also waffled about "saving the world" in a Freudian slip that illuminated the suspicion of his narcissism complex. Lumley, in comparison, showed unerring down-to-Earth leadership in single-mindedly pursuing the Ghurkas case and behaved more like a politician than either Brown or Phil Woolas (Immigration Minister), who infamously stood there like a scalded schoolboy while school matron Joanna read his speech out for him.  At a different level, Hazel Blears has demonstrated throughout her career how totally deluded she is, with snidey articles full of silly "Youtube if you want to" jokes that just come across as pithy. After being caught up in the expenses scandal in avoiding capital gains tax, she infamously held up a £13,000 cheque, like some parody of a Telethon or Comic Relief personality. This only succeeded in overshadowing an ill-advised quote about countering voter anger by introducing "ordinary people" into the Standards Committee. Her choice of words seems to suggest she now no longer counts herself as an "ordinary person" and just shows her up to be the female equivalent of the reality TV pastiche, David Brent. Of course, use of this analogy leads me neatly to Terry Christian, as he had previously grilled Hazel in mid-May and has himself appeared on a rather famous 'celebrity' version of a reality show at the beginning of this year. The show was pretty instantly forgettable, but one surprise that was thrown up from the show was Christian himself. Formerly associated with infamously tawdry pub-night Channel 4 show "The Word", nobody expected a slyly intelligent, articulate and politically aware Mancunian - but that's exactly what happened. After casually stealing the show with a dry wit, he was always chortling at the ludicrousness of 'celebrity' and the comfort he had in being an ordinary bloke. Crucially, he left fellow contestant and supposed actual politician, Tommy Sheridan, looking guppy-mouthed in awe at the level of detail he commanded on political legislation. After his eerily prescient interrogation of Hazel Blears on ITV show "Its My Life" on the lack of connection between youth communities and local government (a week before she was seen waving that cheque around), can't we now just have Mr Christian as Communities Secretary instead of somebody as ludicrously self-deluded as Blears?

So, bearing in mind that two personalities from different parts of the celebrity spectrum could do ministerial work better, why don't we have The Celebrity Party? Well, snobbery, mostly. There's still an air of slight incredulity and ironic detachment when a national institution like Ms Lumley gets interviewed by broadsheet journalists about the possibility of public office. As an actress, she high-kicked villains in the 1970s and then went all weird on us by playing a non-existent periodic table element in the 1980s. Mr Christian gets it even worse. Not only does he have "The Word" as an albatross around his neck, he's also been tarred with the reality television brush. This means automatic Z-list relegation for most people, if not out-and-out demotion to a cephalopod. You want proof? Another inspiration behind this blog entry concerns a book I'm reading by a former reality show contestant, Aisleyne Horgan-Wallace. The reasons why I'm reading it will be possibly saved for another blog entry, but even I was taken aback by the sheer ferocity of the snobbery aimed at her book launch by The Snaily Fail. The book itself is breezily well-written and literate, so any worries that this was a hack job don't appear to be founded. It's a rare feeling when I'm slightly astounded by The Fail, but when they actually win their own snootiness contest for which they've raised the bar quite high, even I admit to being slightly impressed. But I've got to thank the Fail for that, as I also recall them being appalled by regional accents on telly and "The Word". "What the Fail say, bet the other way" is one of the many principles of life that I swear by. "The Word" and assorted other pub-fare shows were just bread 'n' butter jobs for Mr Christian anyway, we can easily disassociate them from the man himself. So, if we kick the snobbery specs off, there shouldn't be a problem with getting well-organised and relatively intelligent celebrities to just go ahead and stand in a new independent political party?

Of course, another reason for not having The Celebrity Party is feeling overwhelmed and slightly jaded by the sheer number of celebrities, celebrity magazines and, yes, celebrity books. I admit, I have in the past been peeved by all this. This comes from years of being worn down from reading accompanying stories whirling about in the printed press. "Right, what's happening in Afghanistan?" I'd think before I opened the newspaper. After a bit, I'd then close the newspaper and muse, "Well, I don't know what's happening in Kabul, but I do know that Brian Belo tripped over a car yesterday. I didn't even think that was physiologically possible". Nowadays, that story would bring a warm smile to my face and it's got nothing to do with mellowing during my thirties. Every other figure in the public eye has let me down. MPs have obviously let me down. High profile bankers have lied, cheated and shown no remorse. Religious figures have all totally confounded me. Even print journalists that exposed all the political corruption have disgusted me. One fine example of the latter was a Daily Telegraph journalist crowing delightedly over MPs being heckled on Question Time; he smugly announced he'd been fighting for truth when exposing the expenses scandal, and then promptly got booed himself. In contrast, celebrities are doing a great job. Essentially, they're providing a service within the public domain and have done it unfailingly. They make speeches, play villains and heroes in films, trip over their own shadows on reality shows, walk up red carpets, occasionally get caught drunk on camera and bits of their bodies sometimes fall out of their dresses. Those last two examples are particularly important for The Celebrity Party, as it proves your Celebrity Party representative is a real person and not an automaton. Plus the question now isn't whether there's too many of them, like it usually is. The question raised is now whether there's too many MPs. They've all realised that themselves now. 600 could easily be culled down to 400, say some leading figures.

The reasons for creating The Celebrity Party become more pervasive when you realise it appears to be spontaneously happening anyway. Sir Alan Sugar was offered a government post. This was just before he was supposed to offer a job to one of his new Apprentices. Old Gordo must've realised that his Youtube performance was like a pale imitation celebrity and he should maybe employ a real one with more gravitas. Particularly someone who has an idea of how an enterprise might be run in the current economic climate. Meanwhile, Esther Rantzen has unofficially thrown her hat into the ring as a possible Member of Parliament. It's not as if she's got a grip on current political issues, or has the common touch, or can speak to the ordinary member of the public? Oh wait a minute, yes she has. Martin Bell hasn't said no to going back to the old Parliament building either. As a political television journalist, he proved more than capably knowledgeable in his last stint as an Independent MP. Then there's David Van Day. He's thinking of standing for election as MP in his local area. Actually, scrub that last one. There are limits, honestly. If we're talking proper representative democracy, I suppose there's always going to be one extremely silly candidate anyway.

One final and deeply serious point. The Celebrity Party would have the added skill of quelling angry heckling from frequent experience and are already good at exposing personal frailities for tabloid readers to project their rage on. They wouldn't utilise the political practice of repeating the same thing over and over again to a question that wasn't asked. In a supposedly celebrity-enthralled culture, where newspapers like The Scum encourage online readers to anonymously vent their fury at reality TV show stars in the comments section (most shockingly demonstrated by attack articles on a highly vulnerable Susan Boyle, as well as Ms Horgan-Wallace at her book launch), people are more likely to be desensitised to chucking anger around willy-nilly and doing something stupid like walking into a voting booth, disillusioned at the three expenses-splurging, piss-taking political parties, and voting for the British National Party. Oh shit, they already have. Call me an old-fashioned mixed-race Brit, but I don't want different parts of my anatomy being deported to four different parts of the planet. I'd prefer a celebrity-obsessed society to vote for The Celebrity Party, to be honest. For fuck's sake, if The Roman Party can poll about 5,000 votes in the European Elections, then it's conceivable that The Celebrity Party would perform well.

2010 British Cabinet - Joanna Lumley (PM), Carol Vordeman (Chancellor of the Exchequer), Stephen Fry (Minister for Technology), Terry Christian (Communities Secretary), John Cleese (Minister For Overseas Development), Ross Kemp (Minister for Defence), Keith "Cheggers" Chegwin (Culture & Sport), Jeremy Clarkson (Dual role: Justice Minister and Foreign Office), Bill Oddie (Minister for Environment), Peter Andre (Minister for Education), Mr Motivator (Minister for Health). Thanks to Spiderboz, an esteemed co-writer of mine, and Bigkenny, for helping me compile a shortlist for the new Cabinet. I realise that the last one was just an excuse to stick a photo of Mr Motivator at the end of this blog entry, but I think EVERY blog entry would be improved by a photo of Mr Motivator at the end. In precisely the same way that another friend of mine suggested every movie ending would be improved by Burt Reynolds and an orang-utan turning up in a battered truck. Seriously, think of any movie and tack that at the end. "Se7en" is my personal favourite.

2 responses

Thanks for the mention Mr. Nicholson.

As you know, I love the idea of the Celebrity Party. I can think of few people better to represent the nation than those who add so much to our rich culture and heritage. I would vote for any party who could get 'Barry Scott' to clean up parliament for us...

The idea of Burt Reynolds and an orang-utan at the end of every film is wonderful, but it could be improved upon by adding the theme tune to 'the Littlest Hobo' to play them off...

Imagine the end of 'Schindler's List' or 'The English Patient' with that playing at the end, there wouldn't be a dry seat in the house..!

I must discuss this over a pint with you at some point. There are several points in your post that are relevant but frankly Lumley could have been made to look like a idiot by the press if they had the urge. Celebrities and politicians may look like they rule the country but frankly we all know that the King Makers in this country are the likes of Murdoch and co. Even the BBC conceede this, only the other day Breakfast News was asking a Labour MP "If the Guardian says the PM should go does that mean he needs to step down?".

If the Sun printed a story tomorrow that said Joanna Lumley was supporting illegal immigration then suddenly people would start throwing bricks at Ghurkas, if the Mail told everyone that Gordon Brown was an OK guy then the Middle Class would vote for him 'because the paper says so'.

People are idiots.

Also when thinking up the celebrity party did you ever think that Jeremy Clarkson is a celeb?