There are rumours circulating that the Labour Party would like Sir Alan Sugar to become their candidate for the London Mayor contest in 2012
London Mayor: you’re fired!
I have to say that when one of my students told me this story, I thought they were pulling a fast one.
Sugar was vague about this when he was asked about this possibility in a radio interview, saying only that he believed in “sticking to what you know”.
If Sugar were to run then it would suggest that politics had finally fallen under the umbrella of celebrity culture. It’s true that Sugar has a successful record as a businessman and other entrepreneurs have run major cities, such as Mike Bloomberg New York. But I would suggest that Sugar is better known for his TV appearances than his business acumen. How many people could actually recognise one of his products?
British politics has slowly been moving in the direction of the cult of celebrity, with much greater emphasis being put on media image than ever before. At the moment, for instance, we have an electorate that apparently wanted a change from the Blair era of spin, welcomed Gordon Brown initially as PM before going off him because it turns out that he is a master of the dark arts. Worse, they now want a government led by David Cameron, a man who spins more that anyone ever thought possible.
There is something of a precedent for Sugar running, if we consider that the current incumbent, Boris Johnson, also had a higher profile for his TV work than his success as MP for Henley.
If voters want to treat politics as some sort of reality TV show, it makes one wonder if the universal franchise is such a good idea.