Charming the Nation

29 Sep 2012

Tony Blair had it, Boris Johnson has it, and now David Cameron is trying to find it - charm. Although any political figure has their fair share of supporters and opponents, charming the nation can lead to big prizes, especially within politics. Blair captivated the hearts of the British people shortly after taking office, despite his controversial decisions later on in his career. He spoke to the nation in a way in which people could understand, and he successfully turned many heads towards Labour during his pre-election campaign. In a different light, Boris Johnson, it appears can do no wrong, especially since stealing the limelight at every opportunity during the London Olympic Games. Whether he is making an elaborate speech or simply parking his bike in central London, he is applauded. David Cameron, on the other hand may not be quite as popular. Regardless of public opponents, since his cabinet reshuffle rumour has it that a few Conservative backbenchers are unhappy with their leader. The public, however, can be swayed and the media can play a part in this. Although it has the potential to severely damage a reputation as Andrew Mitchell recently found out, it can also save it too.


It was a gamble, therefore, for David Cameron to appear on the Late Show, one of the most influential American TV chat shows hosted by David Letterman. Cameron knew it could be a disaster, but weighed up he saw it as a risk worth taking. As it happens, it looks like it paid off. Despite not knowing who composed Rule Britannia, a prominent British song, and further being blindly unaware of the English translation of the Magna Carter, Cameron managed to win over a few hearts that night. Failing his history test seemed to add to his allure, especially in the eyes of the American people. Luckily, he knew the important bits including the size of the UK's population and the difference between Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Just as well, really.

Such a public interview can bring a flock of new supporters, and indeed the American audience appeared to take a greater interest in Cameron following his Letterman stint, despite the fact that a number of locals could not recognise his picture before the interview. Perhaps the chatty, relaxed atmosphere in which the Late Show is presented calmed a few nerves, and enabled Cameron to act as himself. However, such media appearances can be risky. Would Cameron have done as well on, say, The Jonathan Ross Show? Perhaps not. They don't always work, a Jeremy Paxman interview with Gordon Brown comes to mind when one thinks of an interview which didn't go according to plan. Given that this is the season of the political party conferences, public opinion is paramount. Nick Clegg got away with it after his apology speech, and now David Cameron has made the headlines in his Letterman spell. Perhaps all eyes should now be on Labour, what does Ed Miliband have to offer?

By Emily Stacey

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