Data Journalist

YouGov data shows Britons don’t want to see celebrities lecturing them on the real world and politics

In his fifth and self-confessed last time behind the host’s podium, Ricky Gervais spared no-one in a scathing Golden Globes opening speech telling the audience not to a make a political statement if they won an award, instead to “thank your agent, and your God and **** off”.

“Don’t use it as a platform to make a political speech. You’re in no position to lecture the public about anything,” he said, and YouGov data shows that he’s right. Britons don’t want celebrities to lecture them on politics, and even if they do it won’t change most people’s opinion. 

Just 9% of Britons say they support celebrity involvement when it comes to politics. Half (52%) of the population opposed to the famous being involved - a further 33% don’t feel strongly either way and the remaining 5% answered “don’t know”.

Ironically and despite their best intentions, celebrity endorsement of political issues or standpoints can backfire, a quarter of Britons (25%) say celebrity involvement in an area of politics would have a negative effect on how they felt with only one in twenty (5%) of Britons saying celebrity involvement around a certain issue would have a positive impact on how they felt about it. The majority (63%), however, say it simply would have no bearing either positively or negatively on how they felt.

The lack of influence that celebrities have on public opinion in terms of politics could stem from a lack of trust. The majority of Brits say they don’t trust vocal celebrities on political issues, with the exception of television and radio presenters. Just 6% say they trust actors/actresses when they discuss political issues and current affairs, while two thirds (60%) say they don’t trust them at all. However, 20% of Britons say they do trust television presenters with 42% distrusting of the group.

YouGov polling shows that levels of distrust and opposition to celebrities becoming involved in politics is highest among older Britons, with 68% of those aged over 65 opposed to the idea of the famous weighing in on politics. Three quarters (76%) of over 65’s also say they don’t trust actors who discuss politics to some extent, 49% of whom say they have no trust in actors at all when discussing politics.

On the flip side Britons aged 18 to 24 are twelve times as likely to be supportive, with 26% backing of celebrity involvement in politics compared to 2% of those aged over 65. However while supportive of their involvement, younger Brits are still wary of trusting everything actors and actresses have to say, with just 8% of those aged 18 to 25 saying they trust the group and 42% distrustful of what actors have to say regarding politics.

But who do Britons want to hear from and who do they trust when forming political opinions? A quarter (25%) of Britons say they pay no attention to politicians when forming their opinions, and 34% say newspapers have no bearing on their opinion either. Rather, what Britons say informs their opinion most is the views of their family and friends, with 10% saying the opinions of those close to them has a great deal of impact on their political opinions while under half (48%) saying they trust what their family and friends to have to say when to comes to politics. Following this, 9% of Britons also say their own online research, outside of social media, has a great deal of sway when forming their beliefs.

Despite all this, Britons are convinced that others are more easily swayed by the opinions of celebrities than themselves. Asked to rate on a 1-5 scale how much attention they pay to celebrity endorsements when forming their political views, the average score among Britons was 1.4 (with 72% of people giving the lowest possible answer of 1). By contrast, the highest scoring influence is family / friends at 2.9.

However, when it comes to how much attention the rest of the population pays to celebrity endorsements the figure is more than twice as high at 2.9. This means that the public thinks celebrities have as much influence on political debate as politicians (also 2.9).

This all follows a hotly contested election fraught with celebrity involvement. From the likes of Hugh Grant going door to door canvassing for the Labour and Lib Dem Parties, and stars such as Stormzy backing Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party and Alan Sugar openly supporting Boris Johnson and his Conservative Party – but despite their best efforts, the British public just don’t seem to care.

Image: Getty 

This article previous appeared in the i online 

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