The definition of a celebrity is “A famous person, especially in entertainment or sport.” The definition of a politician is “A person who is professionally involved in politics, especially as a holder of elected office.” You’d think they’d be worlds apart, especially when it comes to media coverage. But it seems that “professional” has been lost somewhere. (It’s also ironic seeing the word ‘elected’ when thinking of Rishi Sunak but that’s for another day.)


How does the media often portray Politicians?

Let’s use some examples. When one types Boris Johnson into YouTube, the recommended searches are: funny moments; rugby tackle; Peppa Pig; football tackle; and blue passport. We hear people describe him as the funny bumbling politician. “At least he’s funny” someone said to me.

In 2022, Matt Hancock went on I’m a Celeb, making £320,000.


Why is it a problem?

Imagine if your child’s teacher appeared on a reality programme, or joked with the class more than they taught, or posted lots of entertaining videos on social media. What would go through your head? This person in a professional job, working for the benefit of your child, is spending much of their time preoccupied. How must they have time to mark the children’s homework? How must they have the head space to give the children the attention they need? Do they really care much about the children if they are spending most of their time on something else? These are the questions we need to be asking about these politicians.

Politicians are not people to be looked up to and treated with the attention one might give to a TV presenter or an actor. They are here to serve us and that’s what seems to be being forgotten.


Let’s look at Boris Johnson’s actions throughout his career and see why it’s damaging for people to hold this view of him as the funny bumbling politician. In a 1998 Telegraph column, he referred to gay men as “tank topped bum boys.” Again, in a Telegraph article about Blair’s visit to Africa in 2002, he referred to the people there as “picaninnies” with “watermelon smiles”. This was while he was Foreign Secretary. While Mayor of London in 2013, he said that he enjoyed the Olympics because of the “semi-naked women” playing volleyball. More recently, in a 2018 Telegraph article, he wrote “it is absolutely ridiculous that people should choose to go around looking like letter boxes” when referring to women in burqas and that female Muslim students were going to lectures “looking like bank robbers.”

Johnson was found to have said the Covid-19 epidemic was “nature’s way of dealing with old people.” Cummings claimed that Johnson was not ready to impose lockdown restrictions because “the people who are dying are essentially all over 80.”


Hancock’s actions as Secretary of State for Health and Social Care meant that the lockdown began three weeks after it should’ve, and “fewer than a tenth of the number of people would have died in the first wave” if proper precautions had been taken.

We need to look further before we talk about “Boris”, Hancock or any other ‘funny’ politicians.