View a full range of our ebooks

View full library


Our Location

The PHA Group
117 Wardour Street,
Hammer House,

0207 0251 350
PHA Digital Studio
Fourth Floor,
47 Dean St,

0207 0251 350
PHA Finance Department
117 Wardour Street,
Hammer House,

0207 0251 350

Does the power of celebrity have a place in politics?

Does the power of celebrity have a place in politics?

Hollywood loves an underdog story. Rocky, Seabiscuit, Trump? Well, perhaps not quite. The world of celebrity (Clint Eastwood aside, no relation) was eerily quiet at Trump’s ascension to the presidency.

It seemed a script that even the zaniest Hollywood writer could surely not have dreamt up two years ago, and cast all manner of doubt on the impact of celebrity endorsement. With the might of the mainstream media and support from figures from Katy Perry, to Beyoncé, to Lady Gaga, to Chris Evans (no, not that one) behind her, Hillary Clinton still could not hold back the tide and beat a very average candidate.

Fast forward to June 2017, and Jeremy Corbyn achieved success in a way that Clinton simply couldn’t. It is worth quantifying that Corbyn did not ‘win’ the election, he was well short of a majority, but he did harness the potential of social media and celebrity to create a movement, amongst young people in particular, that led to a result that no political commentator had predicted (whatever he says now, The Guardian’s Owen Jones didn’t see it coming).

Nobody expected to see hashtags like #Grime4Corbyn taking off, but that’s exactly what happened. When even Grime MCs are wading into the debate, it is worth taking a step back to explore the role that the celebrity now plays in the political sphere.

First and foremost it is an amazing thing that the power of celebrity can play a role in bringing people otherwise totally disengaged into the discussion. The young, and many other people who felt disenfranchised before the election, were invigorated by the momentum Corbyn’s campaign generated.

Celebrities can also use their position to raise crucial issues, JK Rowling is an example of somebody who uses her platform to regularly do so (see below evisceration of Westboro Baptist Church), and Jamie Oliver is another who has done so to great effect.

But there are also drawbacks. In some ways, politics is now more reductive than at any other time in history. The influence of platforms including Facebook and Twitter has changed the very nature of political discourse.

It feels as though we live in a world of increasingly polarised opinion. Cropping manifestos and political opinions into 140 characters might well make things digestible, but there is less room for nuance than ever before. With Brexit and the General Election, there has been a very dangerous recurrent narrative on both sides of the spectrum of ‘them against us’.

The last 18 months have been characterised by a surge in vitriol and division as tensions reach boiling point. The world isn’t split into good and evil, but too often the content we read online gives the impression that it is.

In this atmosphere of heightened pressure, do celebrities have a greater responsibility to think before they tweet so as not to fuel the fire?

There is an elevated risk in what is a pretty poisonous political climate of appearing crass, condescending or even incendiary. Piers Morgan and Katie Hopkins have both built their brands off the back of being controversial firebrands, and by saying what nobody else would (and there’s generally a good reason nobody else would). Milo Yiannopolous did the same until his Twitter ban. All of these ‘provocateurs’ delight in sowing division and taking ‘the left’ to task for all manner of perceived sins.

But fear not, the left is just as happy to fire back. Owen Jones takes great pride in deriding those with differing views, while Lily Allen is another who divides opinion, always ready with a forthright opinion and an unerring ability to upset people.

Even Rowling, the patron saint of millennials, was quick to point the finger at Nigel Farage and the now infamous ‘Breaking Point’ referendum poster in the immediate aftermath of the Finsbury attack. Some may agree with her, but others might contend that such a tweet was insensitive and misrepresentative. Many people disagree with Farage, but to imply that he advocates killing in the streets does nothing to advance the discussion and in the immediate aftermath of an atrocity looks like distasteful pushing of an agenda.

It feels increasingly that battle lines are being drawn. Celebrities have the clout to influence and effect genuine change, the recent election showed that, but with their visibility comes a greater degree of responsibility.

Social media is constantly changing the world around us. The power of celebrity has a place in politics, but exactly how far that power should reach becomes harder to quantify by the day.

In the increasingly factional current political climate, those with the greatest visibility in our society have a duty to think before they speak, pause before they tweet, and to seek to unify rather than divide.

Inspired Online Investing Gives Hope to Smart Start Ups


When the coalition came to power in 2010 a major initiative to encourage entrepreneurs to start their own businesses was introduced through the StartUp Britain campaign.

Aspiring entrepreneurs throughout the land were encouraged to help us get out of recession by launching businesses and thus stimulating growth and creating new jobs.

As Walt Disney famously once said, “the best ideas are born in adversity.” The trouble is you still need cash to get them up and running.

With banks tightening their purse strings along with the rest of us, the key question facing entrepreneurs is how can I raise the investment needed to get my business started?

Of course, there is always the option to submit a request to the BBC to appear on the Den and gain a helping hand from Duncan, Deborah and the gang – but perhaps not the most practical or instant solution for many aspiring entrepreneurs eager to get their business going.

In the day of the internet age, there is an answer. Increasing numbers of entrepreneurs are turning to online investments sites to help get the cash injection they need to drive their businesses forward. Like all good ideas, online investing pretty simple concept.

Rather than go to a bank and ask for a huge fee up front, why not get lots of people to invest a little and help you raise the capital you need? There’s nothing revolutionary in the concept but by applying this model online suddenly entrepreneurs find themselves with a global audience of thousands if not millions of potential investors.

Perhaps one of the most famous examples of this is the emergence of Ebbsfleet United. Since February 2008, the club has been owned by the web-based venture My Football, whose members vote on player transfers, budgets and ticket prices instead of those decisions being made exclusively by the club’s management and staff. Approximately 27,000 members each stumped up £35 for an equal share in the club.

Darlington FC recently underwent a similar process to help prevent the club from closure by seeking to raise £750,000 via finance raising website

We have found that our clients have adopted similar approaches as they look to take their businesses to the next level. One example is, a quirky website that allows people to offer and exchange services with one another for just £5 at a time – an incredibly simple but an extremely powerful idea. Site founder Terry Koutsios is currently seeking to raise £243,000 via crowdcube with a minimum buy-in of £10.

After a fruitful PR campaign led to a surge in new members, fivesquids has seen a dramatic expansion in a very short space of time, meaning more investment is required to help expand the site as it moves into a more sophisticated business model, launching new services of £10, £20 and £50.

Other PHA Business clients like as Caped Koala, a social networking and immersive learning and entertainment company, are also turning to the web to help raise investment by listing on Kickstarter – a funding platform created specifically for creative projects. The Caped Koala team have developed an extremely innovative new virtual online game to encourage web-based learning through the national curriculum, in a 3D world where children can learn, play and have fun. The game itself is free to play, so investment becomes even more critical to keeping their business progression on track.

The birth of sites such as Crowd cube, Kickstarter, Crowd Funder and Crowd are in themselves, great business ideas.


Like all social media, these sites are giving entrepreneurs tools to connect and communicate with new audiences. Content is vetted and proposals are transparent. Investors can see how much has already been raised by a business at any given point in time and their investment is not actioned until 100% of the finance is raised – making any investment both very safe and attractive. Some businesses such as Space Mile Holdings LTD are even offering investors the chance to win a trip into Space!

At a time when the

semantics of double dip, downturn, slump and decline are peppering business conversation – it’s refreshing to know that there is help out there for entrepreneurs.

Surely it’s worth £20 to say you part own a football club? A return trip to the moon for a tenner sounds like a pretty great deal to me too!


Cover image courtesy of: Dennis Skley