Legitimacy and the celebrity single-issue candidate

Collins, Jeremy (2015) Legitimacy and the celebrity single-issue candidate. In: UK Election Analysis 2015: Media, Voters and the Campaign. The Centre for the Study of Journalism, Culture and Community Bournemouth University, Poole, England, pp. 84-85. ISBN 978-1-910042-07-6


While news coverage of General Elections can be argued to 'crowd out' other topics of public interest in the public sphere, some saw the election as an opportunity to attract publicity to a cause. The artist Bob and Roberta Smith stood in Michael Gove's Surrey Heath constituency in protest at the coalition’s changes to the education curriculum downgrading the importance of art, while the comedian Al Murray’s 'Pub Landlord' candidacy in South Thanet was presented, perhaps more ambiguously, as a satirical criticism of fellow candidate Nigel Farage (the initials of Murray's 'Free United Kingdom Party' (FUKP) illustrating the blunt nature of any ironical intent). Murray's manifesto pledged to brick up the channel tunnel using British bricks and Polish workers; Smith’s platform was built around placing art at the centre of the curriculum. Towards the end of the campaign, and notwithstanding the final outcome, legitimacy - in the sense of the various potential parliamentary combinations of the main parties - became a key media topic. To what extent was the legitimacy of candidates such as Murray and Smith questioned?

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