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Jim Royle, Bagpuss, Tigger…how students see politicians

spiked-survey: 'Students may not be fired up about the Euro or tax, but there is one issue they are divided on - whether John Prescott is more like Jim Royle or Homer Simpson.'

Brendan O'Neill

Brendan O'Neill
chief political writer

Topics Politics

This is a bit of random text from Kyle to test the new global option to add a message at the top of every article. This bit is linked somewhere.

Students may not be fired up about the Euro or tax, but there is one issue they are divided on – whether John Prescott is more like Jim Royle or Homer Simpson.

In a new survey, London students aged 20 to 24 were asked which fictional character most reminded them of leading politicians – and 46 percent thought Jim Royle, the lazy, farting, TV-watching dad in BBC1’s The Royle Family, was a ringer for New Labour’s deputy leader.

But 42 percent said Prescott reminded them of Homer Simpson, the bumbling, Duff beer-drinking dad in US cartoon The Simpsons. 10 percent picked kids’ favourite Bob the Builder as the most Prescott-like fictional character.

Other suggestions included Mr Blobby, and Rocky Balboa – the boxer made famous by Sylvester Stallone.

Students may not identify with politics, but they had no trouble identifying politicians with fictional characters.

For 59 percent of the students, shadow home secretary Ann Widdecombe most reminded them of Bagpuss, the ‘saggy old cloth cat’ from BBC’s childhood archives. No doubt this is simply a reference to Widdecombe’s well-known love of cats.

A rather less charitable 31 percent thought Widdecombe was like Jabba the Hut, the tyrannical monster from Star Wars, while 9 percent went for Minnie the Minx, the troublemaker from classic kids’ comic The Beano.

Other suggestions for Widdecombe included King Kong….

When it came to New Labour leader Tony Blair, 58 percent of the students went for Luke Skywalker, the goody two-shoes Jedi knight who battles against dark forces in Star Wars.

32 percent went for Ned Flanders as Blair, Homer Simpson’s Christian, do-gooding nextdoor neighbour in The Simpsons. And 10 percent picked Father Ted – the well-intentioned but incapable priest in the Channel 4 sitcom.

For Conservative leader William Hague, 63 percent picked Tigger, Winnie the Pooh’s bouncy and keen, but not very clever tiger friend. 22 percent went for Bungle, the naive bear from 1970s kids’ programme Rainbow. And 15 percent said Tommy, the bald baby from the Nickelodeon cartoon Rugrats.

Charles Kennedy, leader of the Liberal Democrats, scored 47 percent as Kenny, the poor kid nobody can understand and who ends up dying in every episode of South Park. 11 percent said Postman Pat most reminded them of Kennedy.

But, in a choice that suggests the Lib Dems should work on their publicity, 42 percent thought the most Kennedy-like fictional character was the Invisible Man.

The survey also found that:

On the question of voting, 57 percent of the students surveyed said they intended to vote at the general election. Four percent said they definitely would not vote – but 39 percent said they still didn’t know whether to vote or not.

35 percent said they would vote Labour, 17 percent Liberal Democrats, but none Conservative.

Asked about which issues might get their juices flowing, 85 percent of the students said they would be more likely to vote for a party that was committed to reinstating the student grant.

62 percent would be more likely to vote for a party that was committed to legalising cannabis. 13 percent would be less likely to vote for such a party, and 25 percent weren’t sure.

50 percent would be more likely to support a party that was committed to granting free abortions for women in the first three months of pregnancy. 11 percent would be less likely to do so, and 39 percent were unsure.

33 percent would be more likely to vote for a party that was committed to abolishing the monarchy. 11 percent would be less likely, and 54 percent were unsure.

The survey was conducted among 100 university students aged 20 to 24, based in London.

Brendan O’Neill is coordinating the spiked-conference Panic attack: Interrogating our obsession with risk, on Friday 9 May 2003, at the Royal Institution in London.

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.

Topics Politics

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