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Down With The Kids: A History of Politicians Trying to Win Over Young People


Written by Jake Moss
16 Tuesday 16th May 2017

The youth vote. It’s an integral, yet elusive phenomenon that politicians have been chasing since Benjamin Disraeli stormed to victory way back in 1874 with his self-penned hip-hop diss track, “Wasteman in the Commons (Gladstone, You a Bitch)”.

Jeremy Corbyn chilling with grime legend JME is a classic youth-friendly manoeuvre from Labour’s very own DJ Jazzy Jezz. As is Leanne Wood, the leader of Plaid Cymru, announcing this week that she was once a fan of that sweet Mary-Jane (AKA the wacky tobaccy, AKA the devil’s lettuce, AKA marijuana drugs). But sadly, these aren’t the only times that politicians have tried a bit too hard to win over young people.

Of course, the vast majority of times politicians have tried to be cool, it’s been a complete car-crash. And most of those times, it’s somehow involved William Hague. His attempt to appeal to young people in 1997 by wearing a button-up shirt at the Notting Hill Carnival fell famously flat. As did the time he once wore a baseball cap with his own name on it and went down a log flume. Somewhere, his PR team clearly scribbled down this formula: wear an ill-advised garment + do an inane activity = become a hero of the youth. However, this equation is fatally flawed by the fact that it’s fucking stupid. Is he doomed to keep pairing random items of clothing with vaguely entertaining activities until the end of his days? Maybe this time he’ll wear a suit of armour and go for a swim in a lake. That’ll show the kids.

Not only this, but Hague once tried to prove he was ‘ard as nails by claiming that during his teenage years in Rotherham, he drank fourteen pints per day (although you have to do something with your teenage years in Rotherham). This prompted the assistant manager of one of Hague’s locals to say, “The idea of him sinking fourteen pints is laughable - nobody has seen him round here for years.” William Hague, man of the people there.

Gordon Brown didn’t fare much better when he professed to being a fan of the Arctic Monkeys back in 2006, before failing to name a single one of their songs. He did, however, say they were “very loud”, so fair play to him - he seems to know his stuff.

And lest we forget posh cyborg, David “Dave” Cameron, who made various attempts at coming across as a real person. The shiny-faced humanoid became the first person in Britain to support West Ham and Aston Villa at the same time, without realising they were two different teams. He also tried to get down with the kids by reminiscing about voting for Will Young on the X Factor, claiming his daughter had made him do it. Well, where to begin? Firstly, it wasn’t X Factor, it was bloody Pop Idol (let’s not reopen that can of worms - #justice4Gareth). Secondly, it was in 2002 - two years before his daughter was even born. Classic honest Dave.

This time round, Corbyn’s set the bar pretty high by hanging out with JME, but to what lengths will the other party leaders go to match his street cred? What madness is still to come? Theresa May keying ket with FKA Twigs? Tim Farron going to an orgy at the Berghain? Paul Nuttall not being racist? Only time will tell. But whatever happens, it’s sure to be cringey as fuck.

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