Celebrities bemoaning Brexit only exacerbate Britain’s polarising politics

At the new Star Trek launch in Leicester Square, popular British actor Patrick Stewart had a lot to say about the country’s anti-EU governance. He told a reporter that everything surrounding Brexit is the “saddest, grimmest thing” to have happened in his lifetime. Stewart joins a number of London-based thespians that counter-argue the country’s Brexit-induced parliament, only to exasperate the mass of voters who voted this way.

A-list endorsements and the rise of celebrities having more say on the nation’s politics has been insufficient in quelling the flared tensions that have rocked this country since 2016. There is an interminable classist culture war that prevails Britain’s political landscape, with the rich and poor at their most segregated. The furore with the Westminster establishment elite has allowed populism, both left and right, to thrive. The majority of British voters count pop culture figures as members of the so-called liberal elite who run the country from a small pocket of the capital. If a famous face from the music or film world encourage their fans to vote a certain way, it is bound to repel the average British individual.

Stewart has always been a proponent of EU activism; however, he hasn’t been the only one to be left disappointed. Actor Hugh Grant went canvasing on the doorsteps of north London to persuade those constituents to vote Lib Dem or Labour in the snap election. In the constituencies of Finchley and Chingford, Grant campaigned with the respective Lib Dem and Labour candidates to voice his disapproval of the way the Tory party were pledging to “get Brexit done”. Subsequently, both seats failed to rid their Conservative majority. Meanwhile, influential musicians, Lily Allen and Stormzy, both ardently campaigned on a Corbynista Labour platform but failed to mobilise voters and defeat a resounding Tory majority.

There has been a continuous misjudgement on a celebrity’s part with the feelings of the electorate and the arts world. The same can be said with the dynamics in U.S politics. Influential global superstar couple, Beyoncé and Jay Z, hosted a fundraising concert for the then-presidential hopeful, Hillary Clinton, just days before the country went to the polls three years ago. They joined a number of prominent Hollywood megastars, such as George Clooney and Meryl Streep, to help boost Clinton’s position on America’s political stage. The polls were heavily in favour of a Clinton administration but a far-right populist Trump was victorious in the electoral college. The surprise win by Trump highlighted the deepening divide between America’s flyover heartland and the prosperous coastal states of New York and California.

In hindsight, there seems to be a recurring myth with the impact of celebrity status energising the persuasions of some of their fans. In Britain especially, there has been a burgeoning anti-elitist sentiment that has permeated across towns in the Midlands and the North. The likes of Patrick Stewart, Hugh Grant and Lily Allen are now tarnished with the elite brush that makes a lot of voters recoil at their politics. Therefore, wealthy and acclaimed stars clustered in the south east of England have little understanding of the trials and tribulations of the working-class communities of Bolsover and beyond.

Socialist commentator.

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