When Rosalind Dunn tweeted a ‘selfie’ of herself with the lighthearted caption “thinking about Ed Miliband” she didn’t expect to find herself in the middle of the most surprising phenomenon of the election campaign: Milifandom.
But are Are the Milifans for real? Here Rosalind speaks to Channel 4 News about why the movement humanises Mr Miliband… but she accepts that even he might find it “a bit weird”.
Milifandom is about “both appreciating him as a politician and a person”, she tells me over email.
“I suppose Miliband could take it as a compliment, even if he might find it a bit weird… I don’t think Cameron could have the same effect, purely because I don’t think he has the same following with young people on twitter.
“Older people have a habit of taking politics very seriously and that’s not necessarily a bad thing but it certainly doesn’t create a stir in the same way this has.”
The movement, she suggests, has grown out of an idea that the mainstream media has presented an awkward view of the Labour leader, one his fans don’t recognise. The selfie generation knows the power of “one bad photo” after all: “The fact is that most of the photos readily available of Miliband are chosen by the media to embarrass and ridicule him, and it seems that a lot of us wanted to take these photos and encourage people to look at them in a different light, and understand that bad photos don’t make a bad leader.”
Rosalind is happy with the attention but doesn’t want the Milifan brand to undermine the strength of young Labour support: “The support for Ed Miliband definitely stems from support for Labour, but I don’t think most of us ever expected it to reach the audience that it’s begun to reach now, and especially not start to change perceptions of the Labour leader.”
“I just don’t want people to feel like our views are less valid because it appears to be based on Miliband himself, as opposed to a passion for politics and strong support for the Labour party.”