Politicians across Leicester, from Thurncourt to Beaumont Leys, are presently spending their days and nights knocking on doors, attempting to persuade people to support their chosen candidates.
Judging by length of the Bollywood convoy, which squeezed through the packed streets of Belgrave recently, Keith Vaz is above all that. Speaking directly to his electorate is old-hat for this 28 year Labour incumbent.
Mr Vaz is different – his own campaign was based on a stage-managed photo-opportunity extravaganza with his rich super-star endorsee. Thereby creating a media spectacle which eclipsed the campaign of Labour-leader, Ed Miliband.
Mr Vaz lapped up the attention of the adoring crowd, who had turned out to catch a rare glimpse of Bollywood actor Abhishek Bachchan. The Labour Party’s chosen candidates unusual fleet of electioneering cars reminding his temporarily awe-struck voters that Mr Vaz really is “on your side,” although it not always clear that this is the case.
It would seem that Mr Vaz is much more comfortable in the confines of his million pound home in London, or in the company of international celebrities: a world that is far removed from that of his constituency, of whom almost a third earn less than the living wage.
Many politicians now perform like world-class actors in their own right, blurring the boundary between politics and the world of celebrities. By promoting entertainment over political substance they hope that the electorate will forget to judge them for the lack of positive achievements.
Aspiring politicians from other group’s disagree, and continue to argue that striving to improve the lot of ordinary people should be the bread and butter of politics. TUSC Leicester South parliamentary candidate Andrew Walton believes:
“Entertainment is fine, but it should not be used as a smokescreen to hide a lack of will of elected politicians to fight to lift their constituents out of poverty.
“Mr Vaz and the Labour Party pledge to cut £30 billion from the Government’s budget if elected, and can only promise to try to raise the minimum wage to £8-an-hour by 2019. With such election promises it is understandable that the Labour Party require celebrity endorsements to cover their political inadequacy.”
Although political underdogs in Leicester, TUSC candidates bring the ordinary concerns of workers to the centre of their campaigning efforts. They say that the bankers should pay for the crisis that they caused, and that there should be no cuts to Government funding of public services.
By contrast to celebrity leaders like Keith Vaz, all three local TUSC parliamentary candidates have said they would only take an average workers wage if elected, demonstrating their firmly held sincerity in representing the needs of normal people. TUSC’s rival to Mr Vaz in Leicester East, Michael Barker, said, “If we are elected we would give just over £40,000 each to local organizations that would help unite ongoing efforts to prevent cuts to services.”
Mr Barker added:
“Political representation should not be an endless spectacle of celebrity and wealth. It should instead involve our politicians living and working close to the communities that they represent, so that they can best understand and respond to their needs through political deeds, not press conferences.
“For example, when Mr Vaz was invited to support a protest in Leicester, some weeks ago, which was part of national day of action against zero-hour contracts and for raising the living wage, he decided to ignore the request. This despite the fact that the invitation was from a regional organizer of one of the unions that is still affiliated to the Labour Party, the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union.
“Mr Vaz seems happy to sit alongside Bollywood super-stars, but not when it comes to standing alongside ordinary workers on protests against poverty pay.”