Marcus Rashford’s campaign for free meals for vulnerable children during school holidays has received widespread support from both the public and the media, with some describing Rashford as rising from sportsman to statesman, the noble quest of a celebrity footballer taking on the might of the Government. Whether he succeeds remains to be seen but it demonstrates the growing power of the celebrity. Advertisers and charities alike have long understood the power of associating celebrities with a product or a cause. They can guarantee visibility and familiarity and their likeability, attractiveness and success are known to influence the way many think and act regardless of whether the celebrities themselves know much about the cause they are championing. But when it comes to public policy should politicians be held to ransom by the power and influence of celebrities? Shouldn’t it be up to Government how it spends its money not the celebrities who are not accountable for their actions? Yet the relationship between politics and celebrities are becoming increasingly blurred. Celebrities are often asked to endorse political campaigns. In America, the history of politics is populated by celebrities themselves achieving political success from Arnold Schwarzenegger to Ronald Reagan and now Donald Trump to name but a few. Some would argue this has reduced political success to whether you like or dislike a politician not on well-rehearsed political arguments or ideologies. Others would argue that it degrades the moral status of government and is a danger to democracy. So who has the moral authority – the politician or the celebrity? With Paul Cullen, Dr Mark Harvey, Prof Natasha Lindstaedt and Brendan O’Neill.

Producer: Amanda Hancox

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