THE BLOG

Should More Politicians Be Like Ed Balls And Do Strictly, To Connect With The People?

30/11/2016 11:19
Nick Ansell/PA Wire

2016 has been an interesting year. Brexit, then Donald Trump. In my view, the people have voted against what is perceived as a distant 'establishment' that is remote from their lives. And that is what has happened in 2016. People need to see politics closer to them.

Ed Balls, former Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer in the UK, has just left Strictly Come Dancing, where his personality was "ex-treme-ly" popular, as Craig would put it. Now, I was never a fan (sorry, Ed if you happen to read this) of him. I actually found him a little too smooth. And yet I have been impressed with him on the Strictly shows I have watched. He was referred to by judge Len as, 'The People's Champion'. And he had many other positive comments about him. I read an article on the BBC website saying that because of how he was on Strictly, he can't go back to politics.

But I disagree. Because of how he was in Strictly - human, humorous, up for a laugh, strong - the way he took criticism always impressed me - could be precisely why he should go back into politics, because maybe this is what the politics brand needs today. Ed came across as human, but at the same time did not make me shudder - he kept a balance of being fun, whilst showing dignity and respect. My day job is in marketing and brands have had to learn to get closer to their customers and to be genuine and trusted. They can't be remote and distant anymore, to gain credibility and popularity. Marketing these days is a lot about being genuine, rather than the old fashioned big posters that portrayed a distant image. The public want transparency and businesses have had to adapt to provide this.

Trump, Boris and Farage knew this. I am no fan of any of them, but they cunningly have known they need to be seen as close to the people. In my view, they faked it - but they had success. Farage, with his long coat and raising a beer knew the importance of coming across as the everyday British person who goes down the pub. And he knew the importance of repetition, as we saw it often. Trump wore miners' hats, to connect him to the everyday worker. And spent a fortune on baseball caps - again, making himself closer to the people.

Whereas I felt their approaches were cunning but ingenuine, Ed Balls came across as himself. And the people loved him. They voted him to stay in, even though his dancing wasn't necessarily the best, as with other popular people in the past.

And so, I ask the question, do politicians need to do more of the Ed Balls activity, rather than less, to show that politicians are real people? They don't need to go crazy or false, as we still want responsible people running our country and this is not showbiz land. But do the extreme events of this year not highlight that maybe they should be going a little bit more in the way of showing themselves as real people, rather than showing their reality being a reason to stay away from politics?

Ed Balls - future leader of the Labour Party - and more..?

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