Opinion: Say goodbye to politics as we know it – things just got sexy

The names Milibond, Ed Milibond

The names Milibond, Ed Milibond - Credit: Archant

The message is clear – young people are rising up to reject a negative politics of smear, writes Matt Gaw

There is a revolution coming.

It won’t be from Russell Brand, a military coup, or as Nigel Farage no doubt suspects, a sudden influx of Polish plumbers.

No, this revolution will be down to the butter-melting sexiness of Ed Miliband.

I should say at this point, indeed I am contractually obliged to do so, that I am not supporting the Labour Party here and other party leaders are available. But like it or not, it is Red Ed who has inadvertently done more to galvanise a section of notoriously hard-to-reach voters than any other member of the political mainstream.

With the Tories spending a reported £500,000 on an election guru, it is a Twitter campaign led by 17-year-old @twcuddleston – an AS-level student by the name of Abby – that is threatening to tip the electoral scales.

The hashtag cause of #milifandom has led to thousands of tweets from mostly young female users, pledging their support to socialist sex-pot Ed.

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The memes have been endless, Ed as Superman, Indiana Jones, as Bond, Beckham, Rambo and even Hulk Hogan.

Enthusiasm usually reserved for the likes of fop-haired popstrel Harry Styles or actor-cum-honey pie Benedict Cumberbatch have been lavished on the opposition leader.

@elliegalaxies tweeted: “It all started out as a joke but now I think I legitimately fancy Ed Miliband.” @cumberphan added “If mum doesn’t vote Ed I’m leaving home.”

A female friend who went to university with Ed and brother David was not surprised. Under-neath a picture of Ed as Prince on the cover of the Lovesexy album, she wrote how everyone was keen to be with a Miliband – and it didn’t matter which one.

All very well and all very funny, but there is a serious message here (I know, I know, sorry).

Because although these lusty tweets aren’t exactly what you would call a traditional form of political engagement, it is engagement nevertheless.

It seems that a generation who have been bemoaned as apathetic and politically silent (who could blame them when they have been shown such disdain with tuition fees et al.) have found a voice.

Abby, who has refused press interviews because she’s too busy with her studies, made the point well, tweeting: “Young people feel disconnected with politics, but connected with social media. Solution? A social media politics campaign #milifandom”.

She added: “#Milifandom is not a joke. It’s young people angry at the distorted presentation of Ed, trying to correct that + make themselves heard.”

And this is the really exciting point, because not only are young people showing an unprecedented level of enthusiasm for what remains our most important democratic process, they are also positioning themselves against certain elements of the printed press – an arm of the establishment that has previously boasted to have been ‘Wot won it’ when it comes to elections.

The Sun has repeatedly attacked Miliband, politically and personally, with proprietor Rupert Murdoch reportedly saying that he wanted the coverage to be even more aggressive. A source told the Independent newspaper: “Rupert made it very clear he was unhappy with The Sun’s coverage of the election. He basically said the future of the company was at stake and they need to get their act together.”

The subsequent front pages highlighting the Labour leader’s Downton Abbey number of kitchens or mock-ups of Miliband as a bumbling Simpsons character, the red-top’s mission has clearly been to tarnish and damage a man’s political and personal reputation.

The Milifan campaign may be based on a light-hearted premise of an unlikely crush but the message is clear – young people are rising up to reject a negative politics of smear. They are fed up with being patronised by an section of tabloid press that is not in the least bit objective.

Furthermore, it’s a wake-up call that can’t be ignored by those who hold power and who think personal attacks for political reasons is acceptable – those who cruelly caricature Nicola Sturgeon as wee Jimmy Krankie or attempt to undermine The Green Party’s Natalie Bennett by attacks on both her partner and her dress sense.

What needs to be realised is that this hankering for panky with Ed, this crush (ironic or not) could quickly grow into a full-on love affair.

As those who get involved in defending Ed (and other leaders) from what they perceive as unfair attempts to “rig the election” (as another young Twitter user called it) they are going to absorb policies and come to understand exactly what parties stand for.

Of course, it may mean that their relationship with Miliband might not last the passage of time and they go on to find more suitable political suitors.

But what matters is that the status quo can finally be challenged, not by grey-suited reform in a Parliamentary office, or by some judge-led inquiry, but by passionate young people who want to see real change and a politics of hope, not hate.