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What's Wrong With a Porn Star Politician?

21/04/2015 09:42 BST | Updated 12/06/2015 10:59 BST

In a recent interview, John Langley, a UKIP candidate in Bristol, has been forced to defend his 40 year long career as a porn star and producer. In the interview he appeared relaxed and confident whilst insisting that he is 'not ashamed' of his career. He did however admit that it might put some people off voting for him.

As part of the Bristol electorate myself I have to admit that this issue does throw up some confusion for me. I wasn't planning on voting for UKIP anyway, but I find it hard to imagine myself voting for any candidate whose primary work before politics was in porn. The problem is I don't know why.

Other than a minor controversy about Langley filming a porn movie at the University of West England without permission, I am unaware of any wrongdoing on his part. Starring in and producing adult movies isn't illegal. Apart from the ultra religious, very few even claim that it is immoral. It is commonly considered distasteful and it's certainly a career that very few would choose. But, there seems to be very little about a career in porn that is intrinsically at odds with politics.

In many ways a politician who has distributed films of himself having sex on camera will be immune to media embarrassments. Theoretically an ex porn star who is honest about their previous career could prove to be a deadly weapon in politics, as any sort of personal smear campaign is likely to be tamer than his previous career.

I suppose it could be claimed that a porn star's job is so unusual that it will be impossible for them to connect and empathise with the constituents that they represent. But what is it about a career in porn that makes them more out of touch than someone like Ed Miliband, who has never had a job outside of politics? Langley actually has the potential to connect to a huge section of the electorate which is currently something of a no-go-zone for politicians. I'm sure he would have had something to say about the current government banning a variety of sexual acts in porn: a policy which actually caused a minor protest outside of parliament.

The fact is, out of the hundreds of MPs there are very few who have had careers which they could claim make them able to fully understand the electorate. A porn star may be unable to relate to the sedate upper classes from the home counties, but how many people really feel that the current make up of parliament are able to empathise with the majority of voters? There must be something else which makes a porn star an unappealing candidate.

So what is it that makes us so uncomfortable about voting for a porn star? I recently watched Louis Theroux's documentaries about the adult film industry which provided some insight. The documentaries suggested that those involved in the industry were at high risks of getting STDs and many of the stars developed drug and alcohol problems. Perhaps it is the characters which are attracted to the industry- those with reckless and addictive personalities- which make many of us think that a porn star would make a bad statesman. I find it hard to believe that we think through the issues this much before reaching a decision though. The reaction to the idea of a porn star prime minister is a gut reaction, not a reasoned one.

A similar uneasy feeling arose earlier this year when three judges hit the news for using work computers to view pornography. Granted they were acting unprofessionally and, quite frankly, foolishly, but arguably no more so than had they been playing on Angry Birds at work. And, let's be honest, far more people in the UK have viewed porn at some point in their life than played on Angry Birds. Yet I question whether the story would have hit the headlines had this been the case. Imagine it: 'Judges sacked for playing Angry Birds'. No. It's just not headline material.

Maybe there is a moral dimension to this which I have left unexplored. Or perhaps it is just that the majority of the British public value tamer and more private attitudes towards sex: a taboo porn stars inevitably break. That said, it may be that as attitudes become more progressive amongst younger generations, the idea of a porn star being a negative attribute for a political career will wear away. Many may already embrace the idea of a porn star politician. Particularly in universities there are always fast changing attitudes and those with a will to break the taboos laid down by previous generations, and I am sure this mind set is not exclusive to these institutions.

Whether Langley's campaign will be helped or hindered by the revelations that he is also known as Johnny Rockard in the porn industry, is yet to be seen. Either way, it seems unlikely that it will play no part in his electoral successes and failures. I suppose in more ways than one, it is a hard one to call.