Tory politicians should stop trying to be relatable on social media – Labour Article
Millennial journalist cum sex columnist (pun intended) Flora Gill has made herself newsworthy this week by talking about her sex life. Her mother, former Home Secretary Amber Rudd, punctuated the replies with confusion at her millennial terminology and dogged deliberate misunderstanding.
This out-of-touch schtick, which trades on the tropes of overbearing boomers and woke sexy millennials, is an attempt at being funny on social media. Yet their discussion of feminism and sex-positivity starts to feel more than a little insulting when you dive into Amber Rudd’s voting history.
I’ll explain why by starting with what might seem like a controversial statement (but really isn’t); right-wing feminism can never be deeper or more substantial if it is not reflected in personal beliefs and policies. It therefore only exists as a performative smokescreen, using advocacy to maks more structural inequalities that oppress women daily.
Feminism that self-serves and glosses a superficial image over a deeper lack of moral standards or consistent policy that empowers women is no feminism at all. The presumption that we can’t see through this thin veil should insult us.
Of course, politicians and their offsprings’ efforts to be more visible on social media, and therefore in closer proximity to the public, is nothing new. Michael Gove’s daughter Beatrice Gove, 420bandobaby on TikTok, is notorious for accidentally texting her dealer instead of her dad, and making direct references to smoking weed. Keir Starmer’s approach is businesslike and presidential.
Social media played a huge role in the success of Jeremy Corbyn and drew in youth support, such as his speaking at Glastonbury and allying himself with Stormzy. Social media allows politicians to address the public directly on their own terms; where an online identity might be used to give their politics a human face.
But crucially, what leaves a sour aftertaste with Flora Gill and Amber Rudd’s ‘I-like-sex/mother-won’t-approve’ double act is the fact that they’re weaponising liberal social outlooks to appear as though they have the everywoman factor. All while the party they support is consistently failing working-class women, trans women, women of colour and disabled women.
Their online identity is at odds with their political beliefs. Yet we’re expected to believe this dissonance between their lived experience as privileged white women and their social media presence doesn’t exist.
Female sexuality should be discussed widely and without censorship, but it is not a tool for likeability. I am not trying to actively participate in cancel culture or disqualify Amber Rudd and Flora Gill from being open and sexually liberal on social media. I am merely here to criticise the methods and purposes of discussing feminism and ask for politicians to be honest with themselves if they can’t be someone who represents us.
Tory politicians are not relatable – Rees-Mogg is the Chief Whip, for Christ’s sake – nor do they need to be. Their specific brand of elite coldness, often conspiratorially likened to that of lizards or aliens from Mars, holds no deeper truth of normality. Amber Rudd is not an everywoman. Acting as though she is one is a process of performative pandering that patronises and erases the true needs and experiences of those to whom she seeks to relate.
By Guest Labour Writer, Mollie Simpson
Point of Information
Not all Tory politicians are “the elite” – a Conservative Response
I have a couple of fundamental issues with this article. Firstly, not all Conservative MPs are “the elite”. They are from a range of different backgrounds, therefore, to label the party with a blanket term such as this is appalling. Secondly, regarding those that could be classed as this, why is it wrong that they try to be relatable. It’s exactly what Corbyn was doing turning up at Glastonbury.
What about other parties? If “elite” is the criteria what about others? Does Sir Kier Starmer not deserve similar criticism then? Or many of the other MPs from all parties that could be referred to as “elite” or out of touch?
Mollie attempts to justify her singling out of the Conservatives by making Rudd out as a hypocrite. A good idea, if it were actually true. Take her advice and look at the voting history. On social issues, there is no contradiction between her votes and her comments on female sexuality.
Labour MPs may be better on social media. However, this does not mean Tory MPs should not attempt to improve or be grouped as unrelatable.
Written by Chief Conservative Writer, Fletcher Kipps
We should not underestimate conservative social media – a Liberal Response
I agree with Mollie that Amber Rudd’s use of social media is off-putting, cringeworthy, and dishonest. This undoubtedly applies to many other Conservative politicians too. It is not surprising that Labour’s direct social media engagement is significantly higher than the Conservatives’ as a result, despite the disparity in votes. As social media’s importance continues to grow, the facade of elitism is being stripped away. Some Tories are in terrible trouble.
However, Mollie makes two mistakes that significantly hinder her response.
Firstly, we cannot generalise all Conservatives as out-of-touch Etonians born of a Lord and Lady. This classic caricature died with Britain’s last election. Labourites should remember that their predominantly working-class bastions turned Blue in 2019, filling the Commons with the offspring of Miners and Nurses, not Barons. Many Conservatives are just as much of an everyman or everywoman as Labour politicians are.
This leads to my second point. The Conservative’s use of social media cannot be downplayed, particularly when it helps their party’s aims. True, many are clueless. However, we cannot underestimate the force of social media in the Conservative-led Brexit campaign. In particular, the voices of ‘populist’ members of the party have been amplified, not mocked, by their use of social media. Amber Rudd may be hopeless, but many Tories are not.
Mollie writes a fair article about Amber Rudd. However, she downplays the new direction the Tories have taken and the influence this could have when connected to social media. This will only defeat the aims of more progressive parties. Liberals and Labourites alike should be in touch with the new reality of the Conservatives, rather than ignoring it.
Written by Guest Liberal Writer, Frank Allen
I’m a third-year English Literature and French student and freelance writer focusing on left-wing slants on mental health and pop culture, which continues to upset and disappoint my Tory relatives (”overly opinionated, that one’’).
I am an incoming third year undergraduate currently studying Politics, Philosophy and Economics at the University of Exeter. I am socially liberal, fiscally conservative editor here at POI. I have been fascinated by politics for many years, from PMQs to late night election results all which has led to the desire to study this at university.
Politics was a completely taboo subject for me as a young boy. Having lived almost all my life in Brunei and Qatar – two very strict, theocratic autocracies – I was cautious to keep my opinions well-guarded. The smallest negative remark about either country’s governance, for example, would’ve meant deportation for my family and I. Any non-approved political activity, no matter how naïve, had to be kept a secret. It was best not to question at all.