30 April 2015

5 celebrities most likely to be elected PM


The 2015 General Election is proving to be one of the most uninspiring yet, and it isn’t even over. Whichever party wins the most seats, they won’t have a majority, leaving the UK with no clear winner. This at least we can predict.

So let’s fast-forward past May 7th. We have a hung parliament, and while some kind of loose coalition may prevail, no one has a clear mandate to be Prime Minister. The only solution is to open the decision up to the electorate, and let the people choose who they want to lead the country, USA style. Britain is disillusioned with politicians – David, Ed, Nick, Nigel, Nicola and the rest are all finished. Who do we have to step into the power void, Game-Of-Thrones style, and take charge? After six months of drawn-out political games, who in the UK could inspire the British about the future of their country? Who are our national treasures?

1. David Beckham

Yes, he may not be the sharpest crayon in the box, but he is probably the most famous Brit in the world. He’s even up there with Shakespeare, Churchill and Queen Victoria on this list of the Top 10 Famous English people (eight of whom are dead). David Beckham is recognised all over the world, from Vietnam to Brazil. Can we really say the same for David Cameron? And as far as British values go, he has them in spades. Not only is Beckham the living embodiment of Britain’s national sport (/religion), but his is a classic tale of achieving the dream, rising from a working-class background to become an international superstar. Now that his football career is over, he’s launched his own business (well, ‘fragrance line’), and founded both a charity and a football academy.

While none of this actually qualifies him to be Prime Minister, he does seem quite good at taking the advice of experts, which is something Tony Blair could have learnt from. Taxes, jobs, foreign policy – he could just leave that to the advisors, and focus on what really matters: promoting Britain on the world stage. His wife, a British national treasure herself, would make a far more exciting ambassador for British values than we’re used to. At the very least, a star footballer who is also a male underwear model running for PM might get both men and women to care about politics again.

Beckham’s election slogan could be that speech of Hugh Grant’s in Love Actually:  “We may be a small country, but we’re a great one, too. The country of Shakespeare, Churchill, the Beatles, Sean Connery, Harry Potter. David Beckham’s right foot. David Beckham’s left foot, come to that.” When your right foot is one of the defining features of your country, just think what the rest of you could do!

2. J. K. Rowling

Staying on that Love Actually quote for a moment, what about the author of one of the world’s best-selling and most widely read books of the modern age? No, not E. L. James (we’d rather not have our political system associated with Fifty Shades of Grey just yet), J. K. Rowling. Like David Beckham, the name Harry Potter surpasses translation, a common language throughout the world. Since Harry can’t run for election himself, author J. K. Rowling is the next logical choice.

Rowling has some very strong political affiliations. Having lived on state benefits when she was an unemployed single mother, she is a fierce Labour Party supporter and publically endorsed former Prime Minister Gordon Brown in 2008 and criticised Cameron in 2010. There is no doubt that, as PM, Rowling would steer as far away from the Conservatives’ austerity programme as possible, especially when it comes to benefits and support for single parents. But she is also a shrewd businesswoman with a billion-dollar empire, who knows first-hand the benefits of globalisation. This could be useful. So could her influence in Scotland, where she is loved as an honorary Scot. Let’s not forget that she donated £1 million to the Better Together Campaign and compared Scottish Nationalists to Death Eaters. Rowling could be uniquely suited to bridging the England-Scotland divide and keeping the Union together.

In addition, by vocally choosing not to relocate for tax reasons, Rowling has put her money where her mouth is, a quality the electorate tends to find appealing, especially after the hypocrisy of the MPs’ expenses scandal. If Daniel Hannan’s Fame Tax were to be implemented, Rowling would probably be the first to pay it. While she is a big-state, high-taxes left-winger, she is at least a genuine one, and would not impose taxes on others which she would be unprepared to pay herself. Plus she might introduce magic lessons for secondary school children. That could be a big vote winner, even more than offering owls to the electorate.

3. Sean Bean

There are so many top British actors who could command influence far beyond their actual experience. Benedict Cumberbatch, who has gone from Sherlock Holmes, to Alan Turing, to Richard III, and is clearly in line to play the PM one day. Hugh Grant, who actually has played a British Prime Minister, but one without any obvious policies or political beliefs. David Tennant, who could capture the SNP vote with his lyrical Scottish accent, then come south of the border and do the same with the English cadences he used on Doctor Who. With any luck, an open PM election would feature all of them. But Sean Bean surpasses the rest, for one clear reason: he may be the only person in the world who could hold his own in a head-to-head with Putin. I for one would trust Bean to stand up for Britain’s interests in the face of intimidation far more than any current politician.

This isn’t just about Russia either – I can’t imagine Bean being pushed around by the Americans or giving in to EU demands either. He’s just too Northern to put up with any of that. Plus the world wants to know what Ned Stark would have done if he hadn’t been killed off at the end of the first Game of Thrones series. He just had so much potential! Such honour, such compassion, such a clear sense of duty and morality. Yes, Stark is a fictional character and Westeros is a fictional world, but if you leave that to one side, Sean Bean makes an excellent candidate.

4. Helen Mirren

Dame Helen is a British national treasure like no other. As the oldest celebrity candidate on this list, she brings an air of wisdom and grace to the whole proceeding. One does not imagine Mirren getting elected so much as being appointed, stepping into the fray just as it’s getting most chaotic and calmly sorting everything out. She is of course more closely associated with royalty than politics – she has played three real British Queens on screen, as well as a variety of Shakespearian royal heroines (including Cleopatra and Lady Macbeth). But clearly her greatest selling point to the electorate would be her striking portrayal of our current Queen, both in the 2006 film and in the recent play The Audience, where she conducts audiences with former British Prime Ministers.

The prospect of Prime Minister Helen Mirren facing Queen Elizabeth II in weekly meetings to discuss the state of Britain is too good an opportunity to waste. The only real equivalent would be Meryl Streep recalling her role as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady, but alas, Streep is American and therefore ineligible, and so Dame Helen is the only choice. She’s also an international sex symbol, even at the age of 69. We need more of that in politics.

5. Jeremy Clarkson

Yes, he was fired from Top Gear, but if there’s anyone who could turn a mishap into an opportunity, it’s Clarkson. Running on a platform of ‘What’s good for cars is good for Britain’, Clarkson could sweep the working-class Labour vote and eliminate UKIP support once and for all, having declared he’s a true Europhile (“I’m massively pro-European so it becomes rather difficult to support a party that wants primarily to get you out of Europe”). As a friend of David Cameron, he could probably swing a large proportion of the Conservative vote too.

The trouble is Clarkson’s strong personality could end up working against him. His lack of tact could prove challenging when dealing with sensitive foreign policy matters, although he would be a fierce supporter of British business (something all the major parties could learn from), and would definitely be the man to do away with over-regulation and the ‘ban culture’. His class background is also an issue, for while he presents himself as a man of the people, Clarkson attended Repton School, one of the oldest public schools in England. While that isn’t a downside in itself, Clarkson would probably be targeting the same demographic as Beckham in a PM election, and would be less able to sell the power of British aspiration. He would almost certainly lose out to the sports and entertainment icon, but would keep everyone in the House of Commons on their toes as Leader of the Opposition.

So what do you think? Who would be your ideal celebrity Prime Minister? With the way this election is currently looking, all answers are acceptable. Anything is an improvement on the candidates we have.

Rachel Cunliffe is Deputy Editor of CapX.