The degree to which celebrity endorses for a political party really help is often debated. There is the occasional figure who, through their popularity and respect in which they are held, almost certainly does have an impact on people. More generally, it’s the overall pattern which helps show which way the political winds are blowing.
On both scores, it’s good to see the latest set of high-profile people who have come out as voting Liberal Democrat this time:
Floella Benjamin – presenter and children’s rights campaigner: “I am supporting the Liberal Democrats because one of their key pledges is to give all children a fair chance in life. Their ‘pupil premium’ will give extra funding to disadvantaged children to ensure that no child is left behind because of their background or their parents’ bank balance and that’s change I can believe in.”
Professor Richard Dawkins FRS – scientist and author: “I shall vote Lib Dem mostly because scrapping the ludicrous ‘first past the post’ system will turn us into a proper democracy whose benefits will long outlast the next parliament, and also because my local candidate in Oxford is Evan Harris, one of the few MPs in any party who doesn’t pander to ‘faith’.”
Brian Eno – artist and musician: “Parliamentary democracy depends on both a Government and an Opposition – an arrangement intended to subject policies and legislation to critical scrutiny. For many years now, there hasn’t been a real Opposition: the two old parties have agreed on almost all significant issues, and run headlong together into disaster. We need a new voice, somebody to think differently, and the Lib Dems can offer that.”
Colin Firth – actor: “As a once committed Labour voter I, like so many, have been appalled by the abandonment of the values they advocated while in opposition. For me, their conduct on asylum alone is reason enough never to be able to contemplate voting for them again. Those who, like me, have despaired of political alternatives, should take a second look. I believe they could open a space for real dialogue, where values of compassion and tolerance take centre ground.”
Bella Freud – designer: “I support Nick Clegg because his policies are clear, fair and innovative.”
Esther Freud – author (Hideous Kinky, Love Falls): “I am supporting the Liberal Democrats because they were the only party brave enough to vote against the war in Iraq.”
Armando Iannucci – writer/director (The Thick of It, In the Loop): “I’ll be voting Lib Dem this election because they represent the best chance in a lifetime to make lasting and fair change to how the UK is governed.”
Bianca Jagger – human rights, social justice and climate change advocate: “For those of us who firmly believe in human rights, the rule of law, and the protection of the environment, the Liberal Democrats are the only party who can be trusted. They were the only major political party to oppose the war in Iraq, and they are still the only party committed to a full public inquiry into allegations of British complicity in torture. Nick Clegg is the only leader willing to challenge Labour and Conservative commitment to renewing Trident and the use of nuclear power. He has consistently spoken out for our civil liberties and human rights. That is why Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrat party have my full support.”
John Lloyd – writer/producer (Blackadder, QI, Spitting Image): “This is a revolutionary moment. The first time for real change in 100 years.”
Art Malik – actor: “Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats have shown that they are the only party with the courage and understanding to tell the truth, stand up for our rights, and reform this unequal political system. By supporting the Lib Dems I hope that we can finally achieve the representative democracy that we all deserve.”
Kate Mosse – author: “I’m voting Lib Dem because of their defence of Civil Liberties, determination to reform the voting system, resolve to put green policies at the heart of mainstream politics, the visibility of women MPs on serious media discussions, their attempts to be honest about tough (and unpopular) subjects and their grown up attitude to Europe.”
Beth Orton – singer/songwriter
Daniel Radcliffe – actor
Some of these names are not surprising (e.g. Floella Benjamin has been doing many events for the party around the country for a little while now), some are the natural extension of what has been previously reported (e.g. Daniel Radcliffe) and some will appeal particularly to particular sections of the public (e.g Richard Dawkins and Bianca Jagger).